MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

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Monday, July 30, 2012

8 Women Dream: An Interview With Dream University Founder Marcia Wieder Part 1

Marcia Wieder of Dream University 


1. What is the story behind the 1 million dream challenge?

The 1 Million Dream campaign is our lead initiative out of Dream University. The idea is to really change how people, think, speak and act upon their dreams. Instead of it being a “maybe someday,” ”when the kids are gone,” or “when I have extra money,” or “when I retire” dream the real question is: How do you want your life to be and what are you going to do about it?

So the idea is that we want people to post their dream on the Million Dreams website.

There is no cost to it at all. We just want you to get your idea out of your head to increase the likelihood of it happening by a thousand percent.

We define a dream much like 8 Women Dream does, as something that you want. It can be a professional dream, or for your health, or for a certain relationship. Not all dreams need to be what we like to call the “Mother Teresa” world dream (the “I want to be President” type dream). The dream can simply be “to spend more quality time with my family.”

2. In my experience with 8 Women Dream, I’ve seen people settle on a dream, only to never work on it, or want to constantly change it to something else they won’t work on either. What causes this? It’s like they can’t really figure out what their dreams are.


Create Your Future Now with Marcia Wieder

I think this is very common.

I’ve seen it in my workshops where half the people don’t know what their dream should be. We are often so mired in reality, so busy living from our clocks and our calendars that we don’t even know what our dreams are.

And some people choose dreams that they have no control over, like winning the lottery, which makes putting together simple steps to build their dream an impossible task.

I think you are very wise on 8 Women Dream in coaching people to take smaller steps.

Bring the dream down to a level where you will feel comfortable working on it.

For me it starts when someone says, “I don’t have a dream. I don’t have a dream!”

Usually these people are judging themselves and they are kind of panicked, and I say, “Look. Your dream is to have a dream!” And they look at me and have that light-bulb moment of, “Ohhhhh. I get it. I actually do have a dream.”

Then it’s more powerful to move towards what you want than to come from a place of moving away from what you don’t want, which is what you have probably watched those dreamers do on 8 Women Dream.

So their dream is really to have a new dream and their job is to spend the next 30 days on a “passion quest” to discover who they really are.

They (or anyone in the same state of mind about the idea of having a dream) should ask themselves the following question –

What makes me feel good?

The answers might be to take a bubble bath, or read a good romance novel. It doesn’t have to be ‘fly to Paris’ — that bigger than life thing.

Start small with what makes you feel good. What brings you joy?

Start doing more of these things and become aware of what your ‘this feels good’ feelings feel like when you are doing something that you love doing.

Another thing that happens during a challenging economy is that people think that their dreams are something soft — like something to do if they have “extra” — like a luxury item.

Until I tell them that people with passions and dreams live 7 – 10 years longer and enjoy a better quality of life and that statement usually gets them to sit up and take notice.

(I tell Marcia that I forgot about her “passion quest” which is an exercise I did myself some years back. It really does bring your dreams down to earth.)

I am so flattered that you’ve read my books because what you’ve created with 8 Women Dream is really quite extraordinary. I’ve been all over your site and I’ve read a lot of your posts and it’s so juicy … and organic … and engaging that I really, really acknowledge you. I hope you are going to come to my workshop in San Francisco on July 21st so we can meet and see how we can support each other.

(I should interject here that when someone you admire, who is living your dream on a mega-level tells you something like this …it’s hard to remember to breathe and take it all in. To know me is to know how much time I spend devoted to making this site the best that I possibly can so that it encourages women to do what brings them joy. And I am not talking about finding that joy in someone else, but in creating that joy for yourself. To have Marcia acknowledge my dream was a moment in the interview where I wanted to cry, but there’s no crying in interviewing.)

3. I know you are big on dream deadlines. I have seen dreamers flounder at the one year point of living their dream. How do dreamers come up with realistic deadlines that they will use for achieving their dreams?

Big dreams or long-term dreams can die when they just plop it on a to-do list, like publishing a book or start a business, which really should be broken down into smaller dreams or dream projects and strategies that can be accomplished in one month or less. Because a month is a short enough time for you to stay passionate and engaged, but a long enough period of time where you can actually produce a substantial result.

So if you choose a really big dream, like “to write a book” then by the end of 30 days say, “I am going to accomplish a smaller dream of having the Table of Contents done. 30 days from that I’m going to have my first chapter started,” and so on.

You chunk that big dream down into little dreams. Because dreaming is an interesting paradox. The difference between a dream like winning the lottery and a dream strategy is the dream strategy allows you to design a way to complete your dream. The paradox is that if you pick a dream where you can never go to strategy the dream just remains a fantasy or a nice idea.

But you also have to be careful because if you go straight to strategy too soon, you often end up compromising the dream down and selling out on it before you’ve allowed yourself the chance to explore the possibilities.

People have to find that balance between hanging in there long enough to open to the vision and the greater possibilities, along with other resources, miracles and short cuts — and all that other stuff that comes up as you take your next step, and then the next step so that you actually stay in action.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dr. Fuddle and The Gold Baton Book Trailer



When the dark musician Jedermann gains control of the legendary Gold Baton, Tyler, his sister Christina, and their friends are drawn into a dangerous, mysterious adventure. Guided by the mythical Dr. Fuddle, these explorers journey to Orphea, saving the land from chaos and destruction, and return to earth with the gift of harmony. 






















Get the book here-http://www.amazon.com. 
Find out more about the author here- http://on.fb.me/DrFuddle 
or read the blog! http://bit.ly/FuddleBlog 

Available from Story Merchant Books – http://www.storymerchant.com/books.html 

Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton by Warren Woodruff Middle Grade Fantasy

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Post: Penny C. Sansevieri

Part 2 - How to Optimize Your Message With Blogging, an Interview with Rich Brooks 

Penny C. Sansevieri

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Story Merchant Client Dennis Palumbo's Fever Dream - Portland Book Review

Fever Dream

By Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 350 pages


When psychologist Daniel Rinaldi is called from his practice to the scene of a bank robbery, he has no idea just how much trouble is coming his way. As a consultant to the Pittsburgh Police, he aids with traumatized victims at crime scenes and the police need to question the lone survivor of a gory scene where hostages were killed at the bank. Soon Rinaldi is caught in a swirling morass of suspicion, kidnapping, murder, and politics. Death threats against the District Attorney, who is running for governor, further complicate the investigation. Then a reporter asks Rinaldi to accompany him on a journey to question a man who claims to have evidence of corruption by the DA. The reporter wants a psychologist’s take on the honesty of the man. The journey takes Rinaldi into a harrowing situation where he barely escapes with his life, and any evidence may have been lost or destroyed.

Author Dennis Palumbo is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter, he is the author of the mystery collection From Crime to Crime. His short fiction has appeared in magazines. Fever Dream is his second novel. While the plot of this novel is a complex tale woven from several threads, it is a thoroughly amusing and enjoyable romp. The brisk pace and intelligent writing about the adventurous and heroic psychologist will leave the reader wanting more.

Reviewed by Fran Byram

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Post: Penny C. Sansevieri

How to Optimize Your Message With Blogging, an Interview with Rich Brooks 

Penny C. Sansevieri

I spent some time, pre-BlogWorld, with Rich Brooks; he is the president of Flyte New Media.

Let's just dig right into it. First off, I know that you are running around, managing Flyte and all the Internet changes all the time. But, I saw a blog that you wrote, or that you guest-blogged about blogging. We talk about all kinds of stuff to do in social media, blogging is still important though, right?

I feel as though it is important. It is actually my favorite tool in social media. I love Twitter and Facebook and all those different social media outposts, but what I like the most about blogging is the fact it works as social media because it is very social. You write something and the comments are open and people can respond to it. But it also works really well with search engine optimization, something you don't always get out of Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. They have very limited search engine value. For me I always ask people, "What is it, when you have a question and you go to the Internet; what is it that you do to get the answers?" And it is either "go and Google it" or you ask your friends on Facebook. Of course, you can substitute your favorite search engine or social media outpost, but the bottom line is that is how we work today. It is either search or social. So when you create a blog post, it becomes search engine fodder. If you do it right it answers your ideal customers biggest problem. So when they go to Google or whatever, and they put in that search query, suddenly, Google refers them to your website or to your blog and then you have a new opportunity to connect with an ideal customer. That is why I think it is going to continue to be important, because it is yet another opportunity for somebody to find you. Plus it is great fodder for the rest of your social media conversations.

Very true, and it goes into what everybody is talking about -- content, content, content, got to create content. Blogging is one of the biggest content generators. Right?

Absolutely. I have been guilty of saying, "Create as much content as possible." I have kind of reined it in so I am like, "Create as much valuable content that you can create and still run your business." You have got to find that balance. One of the things that I like about a blog is that when I post something, it stays around for years. If I post something to Facebook, it is usually gone by the end of the day.

I wrote a blog years ago and it still drives about 200 unique visitors to our website every single month. Those are leads; those are people who have come to our site. Many of those fill out contact forms or sign up for our email newsletter. That content continues to generate business for us. If I had posted something like that to Facebook or Twitter, it will be gone.

How many times do you need to blog each week?

I try to avoid a "magic" number. I do think it is more about creating content consistently. So I could say two to three blog posts per week, that is great, that is a lot of opportunity. By the end of the year you will have a couple of hundred articles out there for people to find -- true. But you just can't create content like that. I know a lot of small businesses can't create enough content. What I say suggest is to try to create an editorial calendar; try to post once per week. There are a lot of different types of content that you can create, and a lot of places to get ideas.

One thing that I always tell people is that you get emails almost every day, with customers and prospects asking questions. "How do I do this?" or "What do you think about that?" Don't just hit the reply button. Take that email and put it into your blog (change the names) and then answer it. Now you have got a "Dear Abby"-style post that directly answers this person's question. Now you can go back to that person and say, "Hey, your question was so great I turned it into a blog post. And here is that blog post." That does a couple of things: One, it tells that person that you thought their question was important enough that you wanted to share it with others. Also, if one person is asking you a question, how many hundreds or thousands of others in the next six months are going to ask the exact same question to Google? If you give the answer to that question in your blog, it will help all of those people and in turn help you by driving them to your website or blog.

Yes, absolutely, because a lot of people say, "Well, how do I create content?" And sometimes the best content comes from your end user.

Absolutely, so that can be one place, and this is something that we talk about in our blog, I created a list of 50 different ways that you can create content. Email is an easy-to-use tool. Another thing is find competitor websites, find the frequently asked questions page, you know that page that nobody pays attention to, chances are at some point they gave some thought to that, improve your frequently asked questions page and answer them with your own approach. Make sure that you are not just stealing their ideas, come up with your own better answer and turn it into a blog post and all of sudden you are breathing new life into that question.

That is a really good idea, because we get so close to our own stuff that it is like, "Oh right, people are confused about that stuff." I talk about publishing; people are confused about distribution, or whatever. We live and breathe it every day so we don't give it a lot of thought. That is a great idea for generating content.

When I am trying to generate keywords one of the things I often do is start with my own list, then go to Google Adwords keyword tool and what I do is plug in. I often do this for me and for clients, anytime I am going to write a blog I will often go in and see if I can find a better phrase. For example, I was writing a blog post about Content Management System (CMS) and I just quickly ran a Google Adwords keyword tool, which is a free tool, I put in some of the phrases that I was thinking of using, and I uncovered a phrase that I would not have thought of using. It was, "What is the best CMS for small business?" I never would have thought of phrasing it like that. But once I made that the title of my post that became, for the month, the No. 1 driving keyword to my blog.

Wow!

That was CMS for small business. There were other variations for "CMS" and "small business"; there is a lot of traffic around those phrases. So that is a very valuable keyword tool to generate ideas. How many other keywords could you use?

Keywords are important -- right?

Absolutely. When it comes to the Web and you are talking about search. You absolutely want to do your keyword research, because those are the words that your ideal customer will be using when they go to Google. But even if you are just focusing on social media and you are less concerned about the search I still think you want to do some keyword research, it is a very inexpensive market research. So you may be thinking about writing blog posts about "rhinoplasty" and it turns out that most people are searching on "nose jobs" so they are going to miss the content and you are going to miss the customer. You need to make sure that you are using the language that the customer uses. Doing research in this way is very important.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Post: The Art of the Pitch by Dennis Palumbo

Hollywood on the Couch

The inside scoop on Tinseltown, USA.







How to Survive Pitching Your Ideas 
Pitching your ideas to producers, TV networks and film studios is one of the realities of the creative life. Whether you’re a director hawking a supernatural thriller franchise to Paramount, an actor hoping to produce and star in a prestige historical film for HBO, or a comedy writer trying to sell a sitcom idea to NBC, you’re part of a time-honored tradition of artists offering the promise of their talent to someone with the money to pay for it.

I know this aspect of the creative life quite well. Prior to becoming a psychotherapist, I was a screenwriter. Before that, a staff writer on sitcoms. I’ve free-lanced episodes, too, and done my share of pilots.

In other words, I took meetings. Lots of them. Something like a thousand, over eighteen years. Most were pitch meetings, selling my ideas, my craft, myself to others.

But before I talk about the issues involved in pitching one’s work, from my own experience and that of my creative patients, let me get my favorite “Pitch from Hell” story out of the way:

A producer and I were pitching a film at a big studio. We met with two executives, a male and a female, late on a Friday afternoon (already we were in trouble). About half-way through the meeting, the man left to take an urgent call. Moments later, the woman excused herself to go to the rest room.

They never came back.

After waiting about twenty minutes, the producer and I sort of wandered the halls, peeking into empty cubicles. We figured each exec thought the other would cover the rest of the meeting. In any case, the place was deserted.

As we drove off the lot, I said to the producer, “Gee, they missed the best part of my pitch.” Only I said it somewhat more colorfully.

Pitching is something that comes up constantly in my therapy practice. At the very least, for most artists, it’s a difficult and often dispiriting experience. For some, it’s literally terrifying.

To deal with this, most creative types I know develop little tricks or techniques to get them through the process. Some memorize the entire pitch (and pray nobody interrupts them). Some have arcane theories as to how long to talk about each character, plot point or act break. Others believe in researching the professional (and sometimes personal) successes of the people they’re pitching to, hoping to flatter their egos. Toward the further end of the spectrum we find hypnosis, relaxation tapes, and “lucky socks.”

My problem with these strategies, even the ones that appear to work, is that they’re all an attempt to hide the artist. He or she “hides” behind the pitching technique, using it as a shield against what might emerge in the meeting. By that, I don’t mean its professional outcome; I’m referring to the feelings that might be set off within the artist.

Samuel Johnson said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Likewise, I think pitch meetings introduce a creative person to him or herself. That’s what makes them so frightening for so many people.

Years ago, I had a screenwriter patient who suffered terrible anxiety before every pitch. No matter how strongly he felt about the idea he was proposing, how solidly constructed the story, the pitch rarely went well. Then, during a session about some difficult aspects of his personal life, he blurted out, “It’s as though every event defines who I am.”

A potent realization for him, and one that we saw applied as well to his fears about pitching. He experienced a pitch meeting as an event that ultimately defined how okay he was, how acceptable. Perhaps even how entitled he was to be there.

As a result, his defense against the powerful feelings of shame that might emerge if he failed to sell his idea was to work harder on the story, prepare more diligently, practice the pitch with friends, etc.

What he needed to do instead---which became the focus of our work together---was to challenge the underlying assumption; namely, that if the pitch didn’t result in a sale, this defined him as unacceptable or inadequate.

Every pitch meeting, like every human encounter, is a relational event. We bring all our “stuff” into that room---our performance anxiety, the meanings we give to failure and success, the requirement we may have felt in our families to be the “best and the brightest.”

(Or the reverse. I recall a sitcom director patient who often “sabotaged” her performance in meetings, re-playing her parents’ injunction when she was a child not to “show off,” or draw undue attention to herself, because it might make others “feel badly about themselves.”)

I think it’s important for creative people of all stripes to explore what’s underlying their fears and expectations about pitching, so that they can develop better tools for alleviating the more painful aspects of the experience.

But it’s also important to remember that pitching is a difficult task for just about everyone. To convey to others what’s in your mind and heart is hard enough, let alone convincing them to pay for it. Let’s face it, that’s practically a recipe for anxiety.

However, as the late Rollo May reminded us, anxiety is a necessary component of any creative act. Which even pitching can be, in the right circumstances, when our fears are accepted with humor and compassion, and our convictions and enthusiasms can be engaged.

And the other guy hangs around long enough to see it.

But I’m not bitter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Check Out Story Merchant Client Elaine Edelson's Aries Fire


Saturday, July 21, 2012

QUIT YOUR DAY JOB AND LIVE OUT YOUR DREAMS Available on Barnes and Noble!

Are you a creative person seeking more satisfying work? Do you want to make the transition from a job you find secure but soulless to a life built around your creative dream? Then look no further than this essential guide
purchase on BN.com

This book will show you how to:

- Construct a life that fits your personal vision

- Stand up against negative peer pressure

- Redefine success in your own terms

- Identify and control your conflicting inner voices

- Find time to make your dreams come true

- And much more!

If you’re ready to fall in love with your future, this book can give you the inspiration you need to make that life-changing leap into a better world.



Friday, July 20, 2012

"An American hero hits a literary home run" Washington Life Magazine

Pollywood: ‘Mrs. Kennedy and Me’

An American hero hits a literary home run.
By




Co-authors and with , president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Photo by Cecilie Olaussen)

He called her “Mrs. Kennedy.” She called him “Mr. Hill.” The Secret Service agent responsible for first lady ’s protection was with her in good times and bad. He is credited with saving her life.

In his new book “Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir” (co-authored with Lisa McCubbin), Clint Hill describes his protective service responsibilities guarding the intensely private Mrs. Kennedy from the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in November 1960 until after the election of Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

“It was with great trepidation that I approached 3307 N Street in Georgetown on November 11, 1960,” Hill writes about his first meeting with the wife of the newly elected president of the United States that he had just been assigned to protect. “I wasn’t looking forward to it at all.” Looking back, he feels quite sure that the first lady was filled with even more anxiety about their meeting than he.
“Neither of us had much choice in the matter,” he reflects, but eventually they would share a “tragic bond” together.


Cafe Milano Proprietor held an intimate dinner for Hill on behalf of the National Law Enforcement Museum (Photo by Cecilie Olaussen)

He was with her when her son John was born, when her second son Patrick was born and also unfortunately when Patrick died; he was right there, too, when her husband President Kennedy was assassinated.

You can’t help but wonder how his life is now and whether some of those experiences still haunt him. Does a national tragedy like the murder of a president ever recede into the distance?

“I have great memories, but I have bad memories as well and they never leave,” he said during a recent interview in Washington. “They will go with me to my grave but the fact that I’ve written this book has been a great catharsis. I’ve been able to reveal various things that I have kept secret for over 50 years and it’s been very beneficial emotionally.”

Mrs. Kennedy was an immensely private person and he wondered how she handled being with someone night and day. “It was discretion and my ability to allow her to do those things she wanted to do so that she was both safe and in a private manner,” Hill remembers. “She loved her privacy and that’s the one thing I tried to give her — absolute privacy as much as possible.” It seemed to work for both of them.

On hearing of Mrs. Kennedy’s illness, Hill relates in his book the thoughts that ran through his mind. “For the briefest of moments, I had thought about calling her.” But when he rehearsed in his mind what I might say, he couldn’t seem to find the right words.

“We had been to hell and back, Mrs. Kennedy and me, and while we had both gone on with our lives — if you could call it that — I knew that the mere sound of my voice would take her back to that one day that change everything, and the sound of her voice would do the same to me. It was just too damn painful. I couldn’t bring myself to dial the number.”
Great memories nonetheless remain. Despite that they came from very different walks of life, Hill, who grew up in a small town of just 912 people in North Dakota, says they had a “wonderful relationship.”

“She was very gracious, very classy, extremely intelligent, very athletic and was just a lot of fun to be around,” he adds with profound fondness. “She had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed each and every day with her.”

After rising through the ranks of the Secret Service, Hill retired in 1975 as assistant director responsible for all protective forces. He remains in contact with the current U.S. Secret Service and is actively involved in training activities.

See more in the Summer 2012 Issue of Washington Life Magazine.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wicked Local: Cape Cod Reviews Mrs. Kennedy And Me

phoCDkennedybook_0711.jpg
All of those qualities come through in “Mrs. Kennedy and Me,” the memoir Hill co-wrote with journalist and television reporter Lisa McCubbin about the four years he spent by Jackie’s side, from the time her husband was elected president until the election of President Johnson in 1964.

“Mrs. Kennedy and Me” is a candid, but respectful memoir written by a man who considered Jackie a dear friend, even though he always called her Mrs. Kennedy and she always called him Mr. Hill, usually with a twinkle in her eye.  He traveled to foreign countries with her that he never thought he’d see and she made sure he learned how to water-ski.  He paced outside the hospital room as John Junior and Patrick were born and he spent more time with the Kennedy children than his own during those years.

Jackie was a deeply private person who was surprised and dismayed at the crowds that would gather every time she left the house.  Hill prided himself on finding ways for her to just enjoy her privacy, and even did her personal shopping for her at times when the scrutiny was intense and the kids needed Christmas presents.

In what became the worst hour of his life, he also was part of the motorcade in Dallas and was the Secret Service agent closest to the limousine when the President was assassinated.  He managed to jump onto the back of the limo before the third shot was fired but it was just too late for him to do anything but get Jackie back in her seat as the car accelerated.



“They came to me for assistance because I had been in Dallas and the other agent had not,” Hill says. “I had information that nobody else had and Lisa convinced me that the information I had was historical and should be documented.  It’s been 50 years since most of that happened, so it’s time.”

Hill and McCubbin traveled to all the most important sites in the book so McCubbin could see them in person.  They started in Hyannis, but then visited Palm Beach, New York City, Dallas and Middleburg, Virginia, where Jackie was trying to build a private retreat from the prying eyes.

During their research, they also reached out to other Secret Service agents and Hill relived those glory days and swapped stories.  McCubbin says she was like “a fly on the wall,” and those stories enhanced the book immensely because they brought up other memories.

Then they set up an office in D.C. with two computers and worked side by side for nine months, doing research to make sure Hill’s memory matched news archives and the other agents’ notes and recollections.

“It was really a collaboration where we’d both do some writing and research and then we’d say, you read this and I’ll read that and add things, change things,” McCubbin says.  “It was wonderful.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top Notch Review for The Messiah Matrix On Books Bones and Buffy



THE MESSIAH MATRIX by Kenneth John Atchity – Review
 

Although I knew from the book blurb more or less what The Messiah Matrix was about, I wasn’t quite prepared for the unique combination of carefully researched material and breathless adventure story. The subject matter of The Messiah Matrix is controversial, even for someone like me who has no religious leanings, and I expect it will cause a stir in the religious community, and with those of the Catholic faith in particular.

Father Ryan McKeown goes about his daily duties as a Jesuit priest in Rome, not realizing that his life is about to change forever.  One fateful day, he hears the confession of a man who claims to have just killed a priest, and then witnesses the murder of the same man on the streets of Rome. Before he takes his final breath, the murderer whispers the message he came to deliver to Father Ryan, a message that will send Ryan on a dangerous search for the truth about the origins of Jesus Christ.
Emily Scelba is an archeologist working on an undersea excavation in the Mediterranean Sea when she discovers a Roman coin called the Augustan aureus, whose existence may throw into a tailspin everything the world has come to believe about religion. Emily takes the coin to a trusted friend to have it cleaned and examined, but her “friend” turns out to be a dishonest opportunist and steals the coin and tries to sell it.

Ryan and Emily are thrown together as they search for the coin and try to unearth the connection between the aureus and the murdered priest, a man named Oscar Isaac that both of them knew and respected, and who was also searching for the aureus.  Their discoveries lead them on a hunt through the streets of Rome and  into hidden crypts and catacombs, and put them face to face with the men who not only ordered Isaac killed, but who want to keep hidden the dangerous secrets of the Catholic Church that could lead to religious chaos if discovered.

Although filled with exhaustively researched details about how the story of Christ came to be, I was surprised by what an exciting and page-turning read this was. Atchity does a great job of interspersing the historical facts with nail-biting action sequences that propel the story along. One particularly terrifying scene has Emily and Ryan trying to escape a secret catacomb by diving into a boiling, underground river and swimming to safety. The characters of Ryan and Emily are fascinating and well drawn. Ryan is a man who takes his vows of priesthood very seriously, but who has also been on a personal mission his whole life to validate his beliefs. While his days as a priest should be worry-free and filled with the joy of the duties he performs, he comes across as a tortured soul who has a deep need to know the truth. When his belief system begins to crack, he realizes he may need to adjust his thinking in order to cope with the new information he and Emily have discovered.
Emily too is an interesting character.  She’s a smart and beautiful woman, also driven to seek the truth, but her pursuits are more scholarly than Ryan’s. When they get together the sparks fly in more ways than one. Infusing romance between lead characters is nothing new, in fact most readers come to expect it. But Atchity throws a wrench into the romance by making his male character a priest, and this gives Father Ryan something else to worry about: he is attracted to a woman, but according to his vow of celibacy he can’t do anything about it.

The author imparts much of his researched information through flashbacks to the days of Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. These chapters not only immerse the reader in the rich history of Rome, but give great insight into the main premise of The Messiah Matrix: that the “myths” of Jesus Christ and his birth that we are familiar with from the Bible came from a combination of many sources over time, originating with Augustus. Atchity smartly imparts this controversial information without too much emotion, leaving each individual reader free to decide for himself what may or may not be true. The only flaw in the story, in my opinion, is the ending, where his secular and scholarly observations turned a bit preachy.  But I was riveted by the tales of religious iconic imagery, like the cross and Jesus’ crown of thorns, and the actual origins of these images (at least according to Atchity). The author also includes a table of events at the back of the book that gives the reader an easy-to-understand comparison between his researched facts and the events of Jesus’ life highlighted in the Bible.

For anyone who loves thrillers, romance, and a story that may forever challenge the way you look at religion, The Messiah Matrix is highly recommended.
Many thanks to Mr. Atchity for supplying a review copy.
You can purchase The Messiah Matrix here and learn more about the book here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Protecting Mrs. Kennedy: Cape Cod News

By Heather Wysocki
hwysocki@capecodonline.com


Cape Cod Times/Zhenru Zhang


HYANNIS — In 1961, President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed he was "the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris."


But another man was there every step of the way as well, to protect her in happier moments and comfort her in tragic ones.

"She was an elegant, classy, very intelligent lady who eventually became a good friend," Clint Hill, one of two Secret Service agents assigned to protect the first lady, said.

On Sunday, Hill and Lisa McCubbin, who co-wrote the new book "Mrs. Kennedy and Me," spoke to a packed Fellowship Hall at the Federated Church of Hyannis about those days. The talk was sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation.

Hill's image was burned into the country's collective memory on Nov. 22, 1963, when the photo of him diving across a car to protect the Kennedys from additional gunfire was published across the world.

Hill had joined the Secret Service at age 27 after a stint in the Army, and he was assigned to protect President Dwight Eisenhower.

Upon Kennedy's election, though, his assignment switched, to his chagrin.

"Before, the wives' protectors went to tea parties and fashion shows. ... She didn't want me there and I didn't want to be there but we had to find a way to get along," he said of Jackie Kennedy.

Hill was there, he said, for the happier moments of the first lady's life, from travels around the world to trips to the Cape.

"If 100,000 people showed up when Mr. Kennedy was there, double that showed up to see her," Hill said.

He traveled with her to India, Greece, Pakistan and Italy, and on Sunday chronicled the more amusing times.

"I was thinking, 'How am I gonna get that damn horse back? We were just given two tiger cubs," Hill said of two memorable gifts Kennedy was given from Pakistan and India, respectively.

The moments that stressed out Hill were the ones that delighted his charge the most.

"She was spontaneous. She just wanted to have fun," McCubbin said.

Hill's favorite moments were the quiet ones spent with the Kennedy family and children in Hyannisport, he said in an interview after the talk.

"That's when they really had the opportunity to be themselves," Hill said. "She wanted her children to grow up as normal as possible."

He was also in attendance for many of the family's tragic moments — including infant Patrick's death and the president's assassination, which Hill watched from just feet away.

"I reacted as quickly as I could," he said of his choice to dive onto the car. "You're trained to cover and evacuate."

Reliving those moments for the book, which he and McCubbin began discussing during her work on another book about the Secret Service, "was tough," Hill said. "But it was necessary, I think, for people to understand."

Hill retired from the Secret Service in 1974.


Copyright © 2012. Dow Jones Local Media Group, Inc

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post: The War Between Faith and Doubt by Dennis Palumbo


Hollywood on the Couch

The inside scoop on Tinseltown, USA.


It's not a war, it's a balancing act.


A misspent childhood watching Saturday morning cartoons has left an image indelibly imprinted on my memory: a character is in conflict between doing right or wrong, prodded to do good by a tiny angel whispering in one ear, while an equally tiny devil argues the opposite position in the other.

Of course, since these stories were aimed at kids, the ethical dilemmas were usually pretty clear-cut: i.e., whether or not to tie an over-sized napkin around your neck and eat your co-star. However, there was still an almost theological aspect to the sight of funny talking animals — rabbits, ducks, and “puddy cats” — with competing imps sitting on their shoulders, caught in some Warner Bros. version of moral angst.

This image occurred to me again recently, when I came upon something written by Lillian Smith. “Faith and doubt, both are needed, not as antagonists but working side by side, to take us around the unknown curve.”

Often, working with my actor, writer and director patients, it sometimes seems as though little twin entities — one named Faith, the other Doubt — sit on their shoulders, whispering their respective messages, like those winged imps in the cartoons.

Which can be a real problem. Because what gives these cartoon scenarios their curious power, what makes them so compelling, is the illusion of moral clarity they provide. The animated image of these imps is of two competing forces, of which one must inevitably win out. And, of course, one is represented as unequivocally better than the other.

With anyone struggling to grow and maintain a Hollywood career, it’s frequently the same. We all want Faith to win out over Doubt. We want Faith whispering constantly in our ear — inspiring us, encouraging us, instilling hope. And make no mistake, these are blandishments every creative artist needs. It’s too daunting a task otherwise.

The mistake, I think, is to strive to banish Doubt, to see it as the enemy. Because, just as courage has no meaning without fear, faith has no meaning without doubt. They’re the yin and yang of all aspiration.

As creative types, we naturally long to sequester our doubts and fears, to disavow pain and worry. Unfortunately, to vanquish doubt is to leave the domain of the human being. Conversely, to embrace both one’s doubt and faith, one’s fear and courage, is to relate to the totality of the human experience.

The paradox of struggling with doubt — as with all so-called “negative” feelings — is that only by inviting it in, exploring and illuminating its meanings, can we be enriched as creative artists. This is especially true for those writers and actors among you, whose work involves creating life-like characters. The plain fact is, the more willing you are to mine the landscape of your own doubts, the truer and more recognizably human your characters will be. (And the more impact your characters’ faith, if such is their destination, will have.)

Keeping the tension between Faith and Doubt alive within you, without either falling prey to blind optimism or succumbing to despair, is not easy. We veer so often in one direction or the other that, in their exaggerated forms, Faith and Doubt can look like two sides of the same coin.

“But how can that be?” you might be asking. Faith and Doubt are so different, such opposites. Not necessarily, not when taken to extremes.

Let me give you an example. Picture two recent therapy patients of mine, both struggling screenwriters. One is full of confidence, with the faith of a saint in the ultimate success of his career goals. He “feels great” about everything he writes. All he has to do is wait for show business to discover him.

The second patient is full of doubt. He took an evening screenwriting class at his local college, but left after two meetings. He won’t show his work to others because “they’ll probably hate it.” He’s just wasting his time even trying to write, because the odds against success are so huge.

Faith and Doubt, two sides of the same coin. Whether an artist subscribes to one or the other, he’s engaged in a kind of “magical thinking” that leaves him out of the equation. In any creative endeavor, as in all aspects of life, an unquestioning faith is the same as unwavering doubt — both are belief systems employed to try to protect a person from the complicated, sometimes contradictory, always unpredictable ebb and flow of actual experience.

“Faith and doubt, both are needed...”

Which brings us back to those Saturday morning cartoons. Because the truth is, if we each had winged imps named Faith and Doubt parked on our shoulders, competing for air-time, the ideal situation would be for their voices to stay at more or less equal volume. For our attention to shift from one to the other, and back again.

And, ultimately, for us to integrate what each has to say, and to struggle to create and thrive from that place within us where all feelings, including faith and doubt, reside.

Friday, July 13, 2012

DVD Review – The Kennedy Detail


Often when I review TV shows they have to be really good for me to hold onto the DVD afterwards, instead of selling it. So when I picked this DVD to watch, I pretty much knew it would be a solid one to review, but was going to hit my ‘To Sell’ pile pretty quickly. Because really, what new information could this tell me?

“JFK’S Secret Service Agents Reveal the Inside Story of an American Tragedy Secret Service Agent Clint Hill was just ten feet from President John F. Kennedy, desperately trying to hurl his body in front of the gunfire, when the president’s head exploded before his eyes. Covered with blood and pieces of the president’s brain, Agent Hill pushed Jackie Kennedy into the back seat and, clinging to the trunk of the open top limousine as it sped away from Dealey Plaza to Parkland Hospital, all he could do was slam his fist in anger, and give the thumbs down sign to the agents in the follow-up car behind him. For nearly fifty years, the close-knit group of men who protected JFK have refused to talk about that tragic day. Until now.”

Despite my own feelings about the assassination of JFK, this Discovery special, 'The Kennedy Detail', was a heartbreaking watch. Seeing grown men of the secret service, nearly 50 years after the fact, crying and sobbing as they recount their stories was hard to watch. The show was both insightful and thought provoking, but really it just reaffirms in me that we lost one of the great people of the world that day. And yeah, I happily put this DVD into my collection.

A From Me!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hysteria - Promotion With Heart! - Thank You Mr. Woodruff!!


Story Merchant Client Dr. Warren Woodruff's Dad bought three billboards for the town in which he works to get some hype built up for HYSTERIA.

Literally thousands of cars per day pass this sign in the tiny town of Spencer, Indiana, which is the crossroads from Indianapolis to Bloomington and Evansville. No way to get to these cities except passing through Spencer!

He took four women he works with to the IU theatre in Bloomington, IN—the only place around showing the film. They all loved it!  Te theater normally would have  28 -30 people go to see this kind of Indie films, but the place had over 100 people per night. 

 Not such a fancy “billboard” but his heart was in the right place and it filled the theatre three nights in a row!





You gotta love the advertising copy here!


Guest Post: The Secrets to Getting More Book Reviews (Even if Your Book Is Already Out) by Penny C. Sansevieri

We hear it all the time: "the window for reviews is shrinking." And yet we still see reviews appearing everywhere. So how can you capture a share of this market? It's true that often reviews from big-name bloggers go to equally big-name authors. Well, can you blame the blogger? If someone had a choice between reviewing Shades of Grey and one of my recent books, I'm sure Shades would win and I totally get that, but it's hard when you're starting out. You often get reviews when you get reviews, so the old adage of "media draws media" is very true. Then where do you start?

Year ago, when I was first in the industry, it was pretty simple. You could find a reviewer, send him or her a copy and that was that. Now, it's a lot different. Bloggers get hundreds of books mailed to them by publishers on a monthly basis, while book review departments in newspapers have either shrunk or been removed entirely. It's a whole new world. The good news is that there are still great opportunities to get reviewed, but you need to understand the new rules of exposure.

Blogger reviews: Blogger reviews are still great (even though bloggers are busier than ever) but in order to get your fair share, I recommend networking with the bloggers. How do you do that? By following their blogs and posting authentic and helpful comments on their posts -- or by retweeting a review of a book that you particularly loved. Get to know the bloggers you'll be pitching to. They will also appreciate that you took the time to read their blog, instead of just pitching them. It's true with any kind of networking. You tend to go to the front of the line when you know someone, right? So get to know the bloggers.

If you have a series of bloggers you are following who are influential but don't necessarily review books, you could ask them if they might let you guest blog or perhaps run an excerpt of your book on their website or you might coordinate a book giveaway with them. As a blogger myself, I love it when someone writes me for an interview and has actually read our blog. How do I know they've done this? Often they'll weave that into their pitch. For example, "Dear Penny, I saw that you wrote about mobile marketing in January and interviewed Gillian Muessig in May, I think my topic would be a nice addition to your blog because..." See? Now that's much better than: "Dear Penny, I have an idea for your blog I think you might like..." there's a chance I will love it, but a far greater chance I won't because the person pitching just spotted our website and thought: "They might like this." It takes a bit more work to do it the other way, but your returns will be greater and you're also building relationships as you go, making the tradeoff worth it.

Review other books: In order to get reviews, you might need to become a reviewer. I know this might sound crazy. Who has time to review books? Well, that's how we got here in the first place, remember? Reviewing other people's books (who write about similar topics to you) is not only a great thing to do for your industry but a great way to network. I review every book that's appropriate to my market (on Amazon). People love peer reviews, trust me. Imagine if the person you're reviewing reviewed you? See how that works? Make sure to send them the review when you're done. It's a boatload of great karma that could help you get some reviews, too.

Media connections: With newspapers eliminating review departments, how on earth can you get some traction for your book? How about articles and write ups? And even when newspapers do reviews, it can still be a hard road to get them. Especially if your book is self-published, POD or eBook. With 1,500 books published each day, it's tough to weave through the maze of authors out there trying to get attention for their book, too. Here's what I recommend. Get to know the media in your market. Pick a series of newspapers in your immediate area or state. You can find a pretty good listing here: www.newslink.org. You can also select other areas, depending on your book, the reach of your topic or your business. Often smaller regions of the US will still have active review departments so be sure to check all appropriate papers for both reporters who write about your topic, and review department criteria (where they want you to send the book, etc.). By getting to know the reporters who write about your topic, you can network with them early (pre-release) by commenting on articles they've written, or offering them ideas or statistics for future pieces. Remember the networking piece for bloggers? That works here, too and it's a great way to gain attention for your book and get a mention or review in a local or national paper.

Media Leads: I wrote an article on media leads, how to get them and how to respond to them. You can see it here and suffice it to say that the sooner you start with this (yes long before the book is out), the better. It's another great way to network with a reporter.

Amazon Reviews: We've all heard of the big, top ten Amazon reviewers, but like any big-name reviewers they get inundated, too. Amazon is a great portal to expand upon and you should do whatever you can to populate your page with reviews because rarely do readers buy books "naked" (this refers to the book page, not the state of dress). I highly encourage you to review the Amazon list of top reviewers (folks who do post reviews on Amazon) and then pitch the ones that are right for your market. The lure of the top reviewers is that they possess a certain clout, but because of that, the other folks who are solid, faithful reviewers tend to get overlooked. Consider your options with Amazon, and definitely do your research and find some reviewers.

Social sites: Websites like Library Thing and Goodreads offer another great opportunity. First, these communities have millions of very active members and a great place to garner reader reviews. Both sites have a great Reader Giveaway program that we love and use often; in exchange for handing over a free copy members (winners) are encouraged to post a review of the book. Very win-win if you're looking to get the word out there about your book.

While the world has changed a lot in regards to reviews, there are still a lot of opportunities out there for getting to the right people and getting those people to talk about your book. Not only that, but building a strong community of media and blogger contacts will help you not just for your current book, but for future titles as well.


This Blogger's Books from Amazon

Friday, July 6, 2012

Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin will give a slide/video presentation in Hyannis, MA on July 15th


MRS. KENNEDY AND ME – Speaker Series

  ... book signing to follow. Click on the link for details and to RSVP. 

RSVP RESERVATIONS REQUIRED – CLICK HERE FOR RESERVATIONS
space is limited and reservations must be made


MRS.-KENNEDY-AND-ME-Featured

By Clint Hill
Special Agent, United States Secret Service
with Lisa McCubbin

When:
Sunday July 15, 2012
4:00p.m

Where:
Fellowship Hall of Federated Church
Main Street, Hyannis, MA (directions)
Authors book-signing immediately following at the
JFK Hyannis Museum, Main Street, Hyannis, MA (directions)


In MRS. KENNEDY AND ME (Gallery Books; On-sale: April 3, 2012; Hardcover; $26.00), Clint Hill gives a first hand account of the four years he spent as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s Secret Service Agent.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960 and for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Clint Hill is the agent who courageously ran onto the back of the presidential limousine in the midst of the shooting on November 22, 1963. While he was too late to save the president, he positioned himself on the back of the car in such a way as to ensure that any remaining shots would hit him instead of the First Lady and the already fatally wounded president.

Hill is best known for the role he played that dreadful day, but the story of his earlier time alongside Jacqueline Kennedy is rich with amusing anecdotes from within the Kennedy compound, abroad in locations like India, Pakistan, Greece, and Italy, at the First Family’s country home in Middleburg, VA, and everywhere else the First Lady traveled during that time. He was there for it all.

Written with award-winning journalist Lisa McCubbin, MRS. KENNEDY AND ME gives context to many of the countless iconic images of Jacqueline Kennedy as Clint Hill was there, behind-the-scenes in most cases. Some of the highlights and revelations from the book involve: a conversation President Kennedy had with Hill regarding Aristotle Onassis prior to a trip to Greece in 1961; Jackie’s attitude towards taking shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis; JFK’s last birthday party, aboard the U.S.S. Sequoia; and many other never before told stories of funny happenings and tender moments.

An intimate memoir of their unique relationship, MRS. KENNEDY AND ME offers insight into the Jacqueline Kennedy few people knew.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Story Merchant Client Warren L. Woodruff Talks About Dr. Fuddle and The Gold Baton

Author Interview - Warren L Woodruff - On My Addiction Books!



Dr. Warren L. Woodruff is a passionate music instructor whose affection for classical music led to the creation of Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton. We are honoured to be able to do an interview with someone of such talent.

Welcome Warren.


Warren, how long have you been in the classical music industry?

I’ve been teaching for 26 years, but playing classical music for almost 40 years.

What inspired you to cross the boundaries from musician to author?

I’ve always wanted to inspire others through the joy of great music, not just through my many students, but in written word. I’ve also faced a lifelong challenge like Beethoven, a degenerative hearing disorder, which threatens my musical career, so I wanted to leave a written legacy, since I am not a genius composer like Beethoven.

Do you find the title of author to merely be an added side to your musical side or do you treat them as separate personas?

They are definitely separate personas. I will always be, first and foremost, a musician, even if my hearing disorder has other plans! But being an author is very important also. Other than writing the series of Dr. Fuddle novels, screenplays and picture books, I have many other written projects I would like to complete, all of them musically oriented, except for one, an unpublished manuscript on religious philosophy.

What is your goal behind this novel of Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton?

My goal is to create something classic and very different in today’s market--not something that will just be “hot” for a few years and forgotten. The driving force behind each story is mystery and adventure, to engage and entertain young readers. But I also want to pique their interest in music, particularly classical music, INSPIRE them to excellence, and to find their lifelong passion, as I found mine at a very early age.

From the synopsis I was provided the novel seems to create an adventurous flow between music and an exciting storyline. Can you please tell our readers a bit more? What can they expect from reading it?

They can expect a very fun reading experience, even if they have no knowledge of classical music. This book is not an educational tool to promote my art form. It is an adventure from beginning to end, which happens to be set in the musical, magical land of Orphea. They can also expect to feel a longing to hear the music described in the book and a desire to see the whole story played out as a major motion picture, which is in development.

Does the novel contain some of the beautiful sketches that are beside your characters on your blog? 

Yes. All of the artwork is incorporated into the book at the appropriate places in the storyline.

What age group and genre are you targeting?

This first book, middle grade, from 6th-8th grade, but I’m quickly getting feedback that my adult readers are enjoying it every bit as much as the target age group, just like the HARRY POTTER series. As my series continues, the protagonists will age, and the target age group will become Young Adult.


How has the novel been doing in the open market?

We had thousands of downloads the first weekend and have already gotten twenty-three five star reviews, plus feedback from many readers saying they can’t wait to see the movie!

From a little googling I noticed that there is also mention of another novel called First Lady of the Organ, Diane Bish: A Biography can you give our readers a bit more insight to the novel.

This biography was an extension of my Ph.D. dissertation on the most important and visible female organist in history. She is still alive, performing and signing these biographies at her concerts. The book was self-published in 1994, but is still selling. Talk about a project with longevity!

Where can people find your works?

Right now, DR. FUDDLE AND THE GOLD BATON is available exclusively as an e-book for one year at Amazon.com, but the hard copies are also available at Amazon, and other web stores. Autographed copies will be available through drfuddle.com and            drfuddlesmusicalblog.blogspot.com.

Are you working on anything else currently that we should be on the lookout for?

Yes. I’m working on the next book in the Fuddle series, which will be a prequel to the first book, the back story of how things “got to how they got in Orphea” in the first novel. I’m also redrafting my stage play entitled BEETHOVEN. The dramatic rights will be made available to smaller, off-Broadway type venues. It is the moving account of the life of Beethoven, my greatest hero, in six scenes, with narration and music. Eventually, when the timing is right, I will publish my book on religious philosophy.

How has your journey been on becoming an author?


From a general public perspective I always assumed it was something easy. You write and then you send it in, if people like it they go for it, if they don’t you try someone else. The perception is not at all the case, writing in its own sense is an art.

I’ve mostly just written with ease from the heart in a state of inspiration. Oftentimes the writing experience has seemed--for lack of a better word--supernatural. Parts of DR. FUDDLE AND THE GOLD BATON felt as though I was receiving the words from an unseen source, like it was writing itself. This was particularly true of my book on religious philosophy, too, as though my fingers were moving rapidly on the keys, like an automatic dictation for hours on end, as strange as they may sound. But there were also some times, not often, where writing just seemed like hard work.

Do you have any messages that you would like to leave our audience with?

Open your hearts, minds and imaginations to the totally new world of Dr. Fuddle and Orphea! Be ready to experience literature and music in a way you never dreamed possible.


Thanks so much for taking the time to do this small interview. We wish you well in all your future endeavors.