"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Feathered Quill Book Review of Night Terrors

A third book featuring Pittsburgh psychologist, Daniel Rinaldi is headed our way this spring and this reviewer is thrilled to be one of the lucky people to read it first. The title is Night Terrors by Dennis Palumbo. And it is chock full of terror on almost every page.

In the latest installment of this mystery series, Dr. Rinaldi is invited by the FBI, somewhat reluctantly, to treat one of their recently retired profilers. After a stellar career looking inside the heads of serial killers, Special Agent Lyle Barnes is missing a lot of sleep and is having horrible dreams. He dreams about these killers and how they tormented their victims and then wakes up screaming each night. Dr. Rinaldi is trying to get the agent to talk about his years as a profiler and try and remember what he went through in the capture of these criminals. This is not an easy job as the agent is in the cross hairs of an admirer of serial killers who is advertising the fact that he will kill everyone who had a hand in the capture of a recent killer (Judge, Jury and Executioner) and has started to do just that. To make matters worse, Agent Barnes goes on the run and the police and FBI are trying to find him before the killer does.

Dr. Rinaldi is also involved in a case of a young man who is accused of murdering a local businessman. His mother says that he is innocent and, even though the man has confessed, she is adamant about her son being set free. So, Dr. Rinaldi tries to help her prove her son is blameless even though he thinks that the man might be guilty. Dr. Rinaldi is beginning to think that these two cases are linked and both cases are becoming difficult to handle.

As usual, I really liked this book and it was a one-day read. After knowing Dr. Rinaldi for a while, it seems that he is getting a little over confident in the fact that he is good at his job and thinks that he is always right. In his defense, he usually is. Also, this installment is much more gruesome than the previous books.

Quill says: This particular story is lacking some of the humor that the others in the series had, and is also rather grisly in places. It might make an extremely good Quentin Tarrantino movie. As an admirer of Tarrantino, I still have to shut my eyes in some of the scenes in his movies. Good luck with Night Terrors and we will be looking forward to the next installment. 


Guest Post: Simple Ways to Optimize Your Press Release for Maximum Visibility by Penny C. Sansevieri

When was the last time you wrote a press release that got a great response? If you're like most people who write press releases on a regular basis, it's probably been a while. These days, it's so easy to float a press release online that everyone is doing it. The problem is with so many releases online, it's getting harder and harder to get noticed. Years ago when I was first in the business, I'd be able to write a release, push it online and in almost all cases, the media would call me or my clients for a quote or an interview. That's simply not true anymore. If you're eager to get more exposure for your next release, here are some helpful tips that should get more eyes to your release and, hopefully, get the media to call you, too.

Keep in mind that besides pushing the press release online, you'll want to make sure that it's search engine friendly. Here's how to do that:

No anchor text links:
If you're not familiar with anchor text it's the text in press releases that's linked to an external source, namely your website. These are also referred to as hyperlinks. You should have at least two anchor text links in your release.
Too many links: This is where you need to be careful. Anchor text links are great, but too many of them can really kill your SEO.

Don't link to throwaway words: Often I see anchor text that's linked to common words like website, contact and other fairly generic terms (see below my list of the most overused words, these count, too). Ideally you'll want to use keywords for these links instead of just common terms everyone has in their release. Why? Because using anchor text in keywords can really help to ramp up the SEO value of your release. It's one of the best ways to optimize a press release.

Jargon and industry language: One of the quickest way to lose a reader, customer, or possible media interview is to use a lot of jargon in your release. Many business owners and authors like using jargon in releases because it tells the reader that they "know their stuff" - however, this simply isn't true. Jargon is confusing and unless you're interested in only pulling in media and readers who understand these terms, you shouldn't use them. If your target is the consumer market, you'll want to use terminology everyone can understand.

Long headlines: Most newbie press release writers love long headlines but the problem is, search engines don't. When you're writing a release you really want search engines to spider (also called indexing) these searches so you can maximize visibility. The problem is that search engines don't index beyond 65 characters, and I find that most press release writers put their real punch, and often their keywords, towards the end which does nothing to help make your press release more SEO friendly. Ideally you'll want to put your keywords in these first 65 characters. How long should your headline be? Ideally between 115 and 130 characters in length.

Keyword selection: You've probably heard the keyword discussion before; finding and identifying the right keywords for your message is important. What keywords should you use for your release? Well, ask yourself this: What primary keywords answer this question: what is this release about? Pick those keywords and use them.

First paragraph of your release:
This is another important place for your keywords. Whatever keywords you decide to use, per the paragraph above, use a hefty dose of them in the first paragraph. Why? Because search engines index (spider) the first paragraph of your release, but again, just the first 65 words so keep that in mind.

Finally, let's take a look at some of the most overused words when it comes to press releases: Groundbreaking, Cutting edge, Exclusive, Exciting, Innovative, Revolutionary. Now this doesn't mean you can't use them, it just means that you should use them sparingly and, as I already mentioned, don't use them as anchor text.

The idea behind writing a release is not just to write a good one, but one that will get seen and, if you're lucky, get picked up by the media. You may decide to play around with keywords and phrasing until you get it right, and when you do, you'll be glad you spent the time optimizing your release.

George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.

For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read.

When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:

    Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree (Ezra Pound). Accordingly, any words that don’t contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs. I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand:

The man was bitten by the dog. (passive)The dog bit the man. (active).The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don’t want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you’re writing about. You want your ideas to spread right?

6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense.These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. Although I’ve edited this piece a dozen times I’m sure it contains imperfections. But trust me, it’s much better now than it was initially. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than you think.

I hope you find these rules helpful, and through their application we’re able to understand each other a little bit better. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read Orwell’s original essay. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read.

Source:  http://www.pickthebrain.com

Nadine Maritz of My Addiction Interviews the Nobody Nowhere Team

Nobody Nowhere

Three Way Interview – Beverly Nero for the road that led her to Nobody Nowhere, The involvement of Donna Williams author of Nobody Nowhere relating to autism and Dan Ireland the dream director for …. “Nobody Nowhere”

Beverly Nero came to know Donna Williams through her own struggles with her autistic son when he hit age 14. Donna became Beverly’s pillar of strength through some treacherous times.  In this interview we aim to cover various aspects of a mother with an autistic child, the assistance of an award winning author and the road taken toward getting Donna’s story to film.

Beverly, it’s a great honour for MA to be able to host this interview today.

Thanks, Nadine, the honour is surely mine.

From what I have seen in some of my research, you come from a very musical background.

Yes, I'm so proud of my dad, Peter Nero, (Grammy Award winning pianist/arranger/composer/conductor). Growing up hearing his warm up exercises every day was such a gift.  It still is, when we visit.

How did you start your career and when did you actually decide to take the leap towards producer? 

I started taking classes in NY when I was 12, got a BFA in theatre when I was 20 and moved out to the west coast.  I lucked out and booked a couple of commercials and a guest starring role in a pilot, and then spent most of my time studying in Emmy Award winning director Joan Darling's acting class where I learned all I needed to know about the business and about life in general.  During that time I worked on TV, film and a lot of stage. I loved the craft so much; I never thought I'd end up on this end of things.  On the other hand, all of the 'day jobs' I had, kept my utilities on and put me in good stead for producing. 

You have been involved in producing and fundraising for the well-known Deaf West Theatre.

Yes, I'd first been exposed to sign language through music, ironically, when we toured with my dad to Australia. The children we met there didn't care much about what my brother and I were performing for them on piano and drums, but I fell in love with the music of their sign language.  Flash forward to arriving in L.A. and a series of events lead me to Deaf West Theatre where I became the Artistic Directors "right ear."  In the non-profit world, everyone wears multiple hats, so all involved in producing became second nature.

How did you end up getting involved with Donna Williams the author?

My husband and I have a 22 year-old autistic son, Gordy.  When he turned 14 it was a challenging time and I searched online for 'a voice' that could speak for our son.  Sure enough, I found the writings of Australian author/consultant, Donna Williams and it was as if I had found an 'autism interpreter' for Gordy, just as I had interpreted for those in the deaf community.   Our conversation was limited to formal consultations through writing emails back and forth and gradually we became trusted friends online and eventually the screen rights came up for "Nobody Nowhere."  In our emails, I was enthralled by her every word - so ironic that a non-verbal child absorbed it all and was able to express herself so magnificently in the written word.  

I told Donna that if she wrote the screenplay herself, I knew enough people in the business that I felt I could help her bring her bestselling book / screenplay adaptation onto the screen.  So every day for the next 4 weeks I received a jewel in my inbox with a scene from her screenplay.  It was fun for Donna because she got to tell even more of her secrets in her screenplay and depict her more of her experiences, spit back dialogue she'd been threatened not to repeat, and in perfect Australian, Birmingham, Welsh, and German accents. She even does a great NY accent having been there as well.  An ill-fated love story became part of the narrative and her ultimate survival and the way she chose to share her story so bravely in case there was anyone else out there who could relate ... I was in awe with what I read, in awe of Donna's once in a millennium mind, and sure enough, when it was finished, my idol, director Joseph Sargent read it and agreed it was something very special and a story that had to be told.  He introduced me to Norman Stephens who came on to produce with me. Very gratefully, Ken Atchity agreed with Norman and has joined our blessed team.

Nobody Nowhere is an award nominated autobiography written by Donna Williams who herself struggled with autism from as early as she could remember. She was thought to be deaf, psychotic, disturbed and retarded. It was only as an adult that she discovered her difficulties to be caused by autism.

As Donna has taught us, there really is no such thing as 'autism' but a combination of conditions, symptoms, mis-wirings, genetics, birthing circumstances, environmental issues, any combo of which results in each individuals "autism as a fruit salad' of co-morbid disorders.  Donna can go on and on about the many 'fruits that make up her own salad,’ and she was able to help us manage the individual issues rather than dissolve into despair that there is no cure for this label that doesn't really exist, except to make sure that medical services can be covered within a system.

To date the first novel has grown into a spectacular nine books of which, Somebody Somewhere, Like Colour to the Blind and Everyday Heaven are some popular titles. How did Donna manage to link her struggles with that of publishing?

Her friend and journalist, Mary Kay Blakely did a series of fabulous articles about Donna when her first book, Nobody Nowhere, shot up to #1 on the NY Times bestseller list.  I have those articles if you'd like me to scan and email them to you.  She was a sought after guest on talk shows, etc. and at the beginning, it was all very difficult for Donna who would rather have a root canal than be famous.  As time went on, she would write to every single reader who wrote her with questions about her book, and she was compelled to keep writing to keep helping people all over the world who were coming to diagnose themselves and relies that had gone un - diagnosed before Donna's book came out.  Temple Grandin was Donna's U.S. 'counterpart'--about the same age, and their books were published around the same time, but they are as different as night and day, from their family backgrounds and advantages they had and didn't have, and the very nature in which they each experience their own worlds, proving that no two 'autistic' people are alike.  

As Norman likes to say, and some of Donna's book reviewers quipped similarly, Donna writes about 'the human spectrum' and after reading Donna's book, one can't help recognize that we're all just a little autistic. I think her favourite interview was walking along 5th Avenue with the late great Peter Jennings who quickly grasped that no eye-contact was much more comfortable for Donna at that time, and that 'she wasn't a huggie.'  Back to the heart of your question: In the beginning, Donna struggled with sharing her story with strangers, but as time has gone on, she's become the best of anyone I know at that--anything to help anyone with any of the conditions (past present or projected) that she grapples with.  She had cancer last year, double mastectomy, and posted brave videos on YouTube walking people through it as she experienced it. 

From what you have told me about Donna I can see that she is hugely influential. Can you tell our readers a bit more about the struggles she had to fight throughout her life, (apart from being autistic) and why she has been your inspiration thus far? 

She tells me--sometimes life gives you shit.  You just have to make it into sculpture.  And metaphorically, she does just that.  She's a hero for our times because in this age of entitlement, she's someone who takes our excuses away. 

When did you decide to start talking about film rights to the novel Nobody Nowhere, when did you know that this was something you definitely wanted to get to film?

I think that somehow got answered above as well--are you okay with that, or would you like me to separate? I got on a roll....

Donna Williams wrote the relevant screenplay herself. Is this a feasible and common thing to happen once author and film collide or was it her ability to actually do it that made it special?

When it had been optioned in the past, apparently there were many writers who took a shot at the screenplay, but how could anyone come up with something that really lived inside Donna's head?  Autism was on nobody's mind at the time.  An inside out approach to the story, letting her secrets and revelations and death-defying struggles come out (painfully for Donna oftimes, I'm sure) not only helped Donna learn even more about herself, but it created a wholly originally and truthful story, so much more relevant than anyone else could have possibly come up with from their imagination or research.  

She 'maps structures' so all she needed was a general structural guideline, which she equated to her slide shows when she lectures (she's a rock-star when she does-amazing how she can anticipate questions and give everyone answers it appears they've longed for forever). She's got a gift for any kind of writing.  Her poetry slays me, as do her song lyrics.  She is also a painter, sculptor, selling her works all over the world. 

Once you started receiving parts of the screenplay you reached out to Joseph Sargent who worked with you while you were part of Deaf West Theatre. He put you in touch with Norman Stephens, his favourite producer who in return brought you to Ken Atchity. After numerous debates you, Norman and Ken decided on the director Dan Ireland. What made you choose Dan?

I'd been introduced to Dan when he did a fantastic presentation on another project I'm working on with other producing partners. They needed a Londoner for that project, but I'd already fallen in love with Dan.  I attended a screening of "Jolene" and flipped out even more, and interestingly, Dan had always been on Donna Williams' list because of "Mrs Palfrey and the Claremont "   I'd given Dan an early draft of the script and asked him to hold on to it until the time was right.  He kept his word, and when I said 'okay, now'--I was so thrilled when he responded as he did, loving Donna's story.  When he and Donna met on Skype, they both felt an instant effortless soul sister/brother connection and they worked hard together to bring the script to the next level, which they did and Norman and Ken and I were ecstatic.

From what I understand, by now, you are in early casting. When do you expect to launch the film?

We have our male romantic lead attached ' a real live Welshman!' who we'd been eyeing for years, waiting for the right moment to approach, and we're very gratified that the feelings are mutual. We can't wait to announce him when the time comes.  He's brilliant, gorgeous, and beyond perfect for the role. 

Our huge female lead actress for the role of 'Donna' is currently pending in the hands of a wonderful actress and as soon as we can get a definite answer there, we will be able to move forward either way. There is so much incredible talent in that age range, and though an Aussie is ideal, there seems to be acceptance between Aussies and UK actors taking turns playing each other, whereas we'd feel uncomfortable casting Americans in the two leads. Authenticity is critical for this piece.  Donna was a 'nobody nowhere,' homeless at times, and there by the kindness of strangers and her own survival instincts did she live to tell the tale, but each location she had to sink or swim in is a clearly defined character in the story. 

Dan Ireland began his career at the age of nineteen. Dan is the co-founder and co-director of the enormously respected Seattle International Film Festival. The list of credits I noted for him runs over an entire four pages. He is behind the rising stardom of many actors like Renee Zellweger, Emmy Rossum, Rupert Friend and Jessica Chastain.

He has received awards such as:
"The Whole Wide World" – Best Film, Seattle Int'l Film Fest., Best Actor  -Vincent D’Onofrio. Seattle Int'l Film Festival, Runner-up National Society of Film Critics, Best Actress - Renee Zellweger, National Board of Review, Mar del Plata Film Festival.
  "Mrs. Palfrey At The Claremont" - Best Film, Palm Springs Int'l Film Fest., Best Film, Newport Beach International Film Fest., Best Actress - Joan Plowright, AARP Awards, Best Newcomer Rupert Friend, Golden Satellite Awards.
 "Jolene" - Seattle International Film Festival, Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actress - Jessica Chastain
Dan in short, can you tell our readers a bit more about yourself?

Well, I think you’ve said it all above, but if I had to add anything it would be that I feel that I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have the freedom of living my dream. From creating and running a film festival to acquiring and producing films for a major independent distributor, to my journey of becoming a filmmaker, I’m one lucky guy.  I’ve been in love with film since as far back as I can remember, and as clichéd as that sounds, it’s the truth. To be able to have had the freedom of immersing myself in almost every aspect of the world of film has only pushed me further into my obsession of telling a story and creating the world around it. 

What was it about Donna Williams and Beverly Nero that made you agree to work on the film?

When I first met Beverly Nero on another project I was up for, I was immediately struck by her intelligence, her passion and her deep respect for other people’s opinions other than her own.  She was kind, generous and made me feel at home in what was otherwise one of the most challenging meetings I’ve had in recent years. The two other producers she was working with at the time were trying to make me prove I was worthy enough for their screenplay. Beverly was convinced that I was ‘the guy’ to do it, and she wasn’t afraid to say it in front of her partners. She made me feel worthy; she has a dignity and respect for talent. When she believes in you, there isn’t anything she won’t do for you.  You can’t buy that. We connected instantly, and after attending the screening of my film Jolene (Jessica Chastain), she came up to me and told me she had something special that she wanted to show me, but couldn’t just yet. So, she sent me the script of “Nobody Nowhere” and asked me not to read it until she told me it was okay. I loved that subterfuge, and like a patient boy at Christmas (is there one) I waited for the call.  And when it came, I read the script 10 minutes later. With Donna, she had me on the first page of her book, on which the film is based.  Characters like Donna Williams don’t come along every day, and stories like hers are a gift that any filmmaker with a heart, a soul, a sense of adventure (like Donna herself), and a half a brain would leap through hoops of fire to do. And when I finally met Donna on Skype, it was amazing.  There’s this amazing person whose story just shattered, enthralled and inspired you sitting across the computer screen, larger than life, more real than real, and more heartfelt that you ever imagined.  

How has working with Donna Williams influenced you as a director?

Working with Donna inspires me on a million levels and we haven’t even started shooting yet! As a director, you have to have a sense of objectivity with all of the characters you create, you portray. In Donna’s case, it’s already documented, so if anyone thinks I’m making anything up, all you have to do is read her beautiful novel to see the richness of this
 indomitable spirit. Donna’s story is unique in that it has the potential to help millions of people and families who live with autism.  

From my discussions with Beverly you have been involved with all collaborations regarding the screenplay directly with Donna. When it comes to casting how involved are you in selecting lead characters?

Seeing I’ve already been blessed by the casting gods, I think my producers are now looking to me to find the next big star. The simple truth… for that to happen, you must go with your intuition, trust your gut, never have your mind made up before you start to look for your actors, and above all DON’T SETTLE. Be willing to be surprised and more open than you ever dreamed of being.   

If you could take anything with you on working with this specific project what would it be?

If I could take anything with me on working on “Nobody Nowhere,” it would be the bravery, the fearlessness, the joy, the selflessness, and the innocence that got Donna Williams through her incredible journey. This is the story of an unsung heroine, and even though I can’t sing, I sure as hell am going to give it everything I’ve got.

Literary Aficionado Reviews The Messiah Matrix


Destined to be highly controversial - A Very Fine Novel

Review by Grady Harp

Dr. Kenneth John Atchity has created a novel that is not only an absorbing story, but it is also a platform for re-thinking the beginnings of Christianity as we have been taught. This fact will doubtless unsettle many right wing religious conservatives - much the way that Darwin's concept of Evolution has always caused them problems. And if that is an afterburn of reading this novel then we should hope it gains a very wide readership.

Atchity is a scholar, highly regarded among academics, and it is this aspect of his novel THE MESSIAH MATRIX that gives him the edge. The ideas he poses are scientifically grounded and so well developed, based on archeological findings and research, that the themes of this book cannot be disregarded. Add to that the fact that Acuity writes with an elegant style, not only in a manner that makes his story propelled forward at all times but also he creates a compelling atmosphere - both above and below the waters of the sea!

Very briefly the book opens with a gripping Prologue of the intentional murder of a priest who receives last rites from a Fr. Ryan McKeon, a Jesuit whose convictions about his religion and his church are tenuous at best, and as the struck priest dies he utters a secret that starts the story with a mesmerizing concept: who was the human form the Bible calls Jesus Christ but historical research may prove him to be a Roman Emperor, so similar are the facts about the beginning of the Biblical Christianity and Roman history. Parallel to this incident is the work of three archeological investigators, the women member of which dives to discover an ancient element at the bottom of the sea that supports the thoughts that begin with the secret shared with Ryan.

As with all successful novels there are power struggles, love stories, adventures around every turn and to reveal more would diminish the impact of the slowly unraveling mysteries that connect to question the validity of the historical Christian Savior. It is the mixture of investigative acumen and the gift for relating mystery writing in a style so eloquent that it resembles the major books of literature that makes this book so solid. There are those who compare it to the Da Vinci Code genre of books and yes, it is every bit as intoxicating as those. The difference is in the writing style. Kenneth John Atchity could write about any topic and he would be worth of reading, so beautiful is his mastery of the English language!

Grady Harp, February 2013
Read more

Join Ken on Jeff Rivera's Live Google Hang Out ... Friday March 22nd at 9am (pst) 12 pm (est)

How to Beat Procrastination | Dr. Ken Atchity on Managing Your Writing Career in the Midst of Chaos

branding entertainment media content consulting
If you are getting frustrated because you never seem to have enough time to write, then you’re going to want to stay tuned to our class with writing career coach and Emmy nominated producer, Dr. Ken Atchity this Friday, March 22nd at 9am PT/12pm ET. 

Stay tuned to this page then, when we will be doing a Live Google Hangout. You will be able to ask Dr. Atchity all your questions about how to beat procrastination, how to schedule writing in your already busy schedule and what to do if you cannot get an agent in the Facebook comments below.

Larry Thompson's Thriller Thursday!

Messiah Matrix and the Catholic Church

Ken Atchity’s novel receiving renewed attention in light of changes in the church

Novelist and story merchant Ken Atchity rejoins us for a discussion of how controversies in the Catholic Church, some of them surrounding the departure of Pope Benedict XVI (now Pope Emeritus), are affecting interest in his novel, The Messiah Matrix. As a scholar of history, Ken finds that faith, fiction and history intertwine in fascinating ways, and historical events such as the departure of a living pope have an effect on how the church is perceived, and perhaps, in how it will go forward.

Check out Ken’s recent article in the Huffington Post, Good News from the Vatican.

Bookworm Babblings Reviews The Messiah Matrix

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

To what lengths would the Vatican go to suppress the secret origins of its power?

The Messiah Matrix is a myth-shattering thriller whose protagonists delve into the secrets of the past—and expose those who hide them still.

A renowned scholar-monsignor is killed in a mysterious hit-and-run in Rome. A Roman coin is recovered from a wreck off the coast of ancient Judea. It’s up to his young American protégé--a Jesuit priest--and a vivacious, brilliant archaeologist to connect these seemingly disparate events and unravel the tapestry that conceals in plain view the greatest mystery in the ecclesiastical world.

Together they pursue their passion for truth—while fighting to control their passion for each other.

What they uncover is an ancient Roman imperial stratagem so controversial the Curia fears it could undermine the very foundations of the Roman Catholic faith.

From the ancient port of Caesarea to Rome's legendary catacombs and the sacred caves of Cumae, this contemporary novel follows their exhilarating quest to uncover the truth about the historical existence of the real "Christian Savior."

The Messiah Matrix may prove to be one of the most thought-provoking
books ever written.


 I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.    This was a great thrill ride.  The monsignor dies leaving a cryptic message.  It’s up to archeologist Emily, and Jesuit Priest, Ryan to find the connection between his death and a Roman coin.

Although the book starts off a little slow, it does pick up quite the pace later on.  Dr. Atchity weaves a fascinating tale, with a great adventure and lots of action.  The story was so well written that it actually has plausibility if it wasn’t a work of fiction or if someone was faltering in their faith.  I loved the plot and the characters were great, you could connect with them.  If you like archeological adventures like Indiana Jones and you don’t mind the slow start before the action starts, this is a great book for you.

  About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Atchity, former professor of comparative literature at Occidental College in Los Angeles and Fulbright professor to the University of Bologna, is author of 20 books, including scholarly books on Greek, Roman, and medieval Italian literature. In his second career as a literary manager, writers’ career coach, and producer he has launched hundreds of client books and two dozen films. His previous book, completed for New York Times bestseller William Diehl, is Seven Ways to Die. The Messiah Matrix was constructed from his lifelong study of all things Roman Catholic and his repeated visits to Rome while a professor of classics as well as producer.

Huffington Post: Good News/Bad News, Mixed Messages & Blessings in Jesuit Takeover of Vatican

Hate to say I told you so but, exactly as predicted in my recent novel, The Messiah Matrix, for the first time in history we now have a Jesuit pope: yesterday, Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio; today, Pope Francis I.

I confess to mixed feelings about the new man in the Vatican. The good news is that he is a humble man who gave up the cardinals' limo to ride the bus, flies economy, lived in a small flat in Buenos Aires, is an ardent soccer fan, and prays in the back of the cathedral in his spare moments. That he is another testimony to the world's rapid drift toward embracing diversity which I've written about in a previous Huffington Post. That he doesn't mince words in confronting the gap between the haves and have-nots. That he has chosen to name himself after Italy's patron saint, who practiced and preached poverty and simplicity and was chosen by God to repair a church in ruins; today's church, according to the late Milanese cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, is "200 hundred years behind the times." Yet the shadow of the other St. Francis, the first great Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier hovers ambivalently over his papal nomenclature. I like this story.

The bad news is that the Argentine (of Italian immigrant parents) is known to be a doctrinal conservative, upholding tradition, by opposing compromise with homosexuality, with birth control, and with ordaining women. He has a debatable track record vis-à-vis the Argentine church's relationship with the junta in the 1970s Dirty War, which strained his relations with many liberal Jesuits worldwide. I don't like this story.

What's really going on here?

Behind the scenes, the Roman Catholic Church is either coming of age -- if Francis turns it in a liberal direction with his new-found power, or is reaching the end of its two-millennium hegemony of the Christian faith.

The mechanics of my novel's backstory pits the Jesuits against the papacy, and suggests a pact made between the then reigning pope, now to be known as the "pope emeritus" (quite fittingly for Joseph Ratzinger's academic bent) -- and the head of the Jesuit order -- a pact by which the reigning pope would either be silent or resign, in favor of a Jesuit who would push the order's liberal agenda.

The conflict beneath it all is the age-old contest between fundamentalists (aka "conservatives") and "humanists." Christian fundamentalists I define as those who insist that everything in the Gospels (that were not, by the way, written down until the second century!) is literally true. Humanists, on the other hand, hold the Pauline or mystic-mythical or Gnostic view of Christ that asserts that the true Christ lies within us all and is reachable when we pursue our higher (spiritual) instincts and repress our lower (animal) instincts.

That the divine lies within us is anathema to the fundamentalists, I believe, for a very simple reason: If we can all reach Christhood ourselves, what is our need for organized religion or Peter 's pence? All the gold of the Vatican, all its real estate worldwide, its ill-gotten Vatican Bank deposits -- could all be liquidated (just as Bergoglio sold the cardinal's residence and chose to live in an unpretentious apartment) -- and used to equalize the gap between rich and poor. Who the new pope, henceforth to sign himself servus servorum dei, "servant of the servants of God," has sworn to nurture with the gold pontiff's shepherd staff that he now wields.

The Jesuits, intellectuals and humanists from their founding by Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Pierre Favre, have always recognized that the basic spiritual teachings of Christianity, enshrined in the formulaic Beatitudes, are universal and are as evident in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, and every ancient religion from Egypt to Persia, as they are in traditional Catholic doctrine. The Golden Rule trumps the Ten Commandments, and was embraced even by my novel's Emperor Augustus in his final years as his legacy.

Maybe Benedict XVI couldn't take it anymore. Maybe his scholarly soul knew the truth -- that the wondrously magical Christ myth is not literally true, but demands humanity taking responsibility for our own, and the world's, good and evil -- but his training and vocation demanded that he continue to profess the fundamentalist faith to the point that his papacy became a constant stream of contradictions.

Maybe the ambivalence or ambiguity of Francis' chosen papal name was intentional? To keep them guessing, while Jorge himself figures out what to do: return a true spirituality to the sin-battered church -- the "fraternity" he spoke of in his opening blessing, or continue the ambivalent and progressively decadent way of his predecessor toward marginalizing the Roman Catholic Church even further and thereby finally destroying the mighty Roman Empire of which it is but the continuation?

Let's hope the seagull on the white smoke chimney was a good omen.

Let's hope that when Francis speaks the cardinals as well as the birds of heaven are listening.

Dr. Atchity's first novel, The Messiah Matrix (www.messiahmatrix.com), explores the labyrinthine politics of the Vatican, the doctrinal rivalries within the ancient church, and the enforced mysteries masking the true origins of Christianity.

Publishers Weekly Reviews Night Terrors

Night Terrors: A Daniel Rinaldi Mystery
Dennis Palumbo. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0131-8 

In Palumbo’s riveting third Daniel Rinaldi mystery (after 2011’s Fever Dream), the Pittsburgh, Pa., doctor applies his therapeutic skills to a prickly former FBI special agent, Lyle Barnes, who suffers from night terrors after a career of tracking down serial killers. Adding to Barnes’s woes is a murderer out to get every person who helped put serial killer John Jessup behind bars, including Barnes, who goes into protective custody. Meanwhile, Rinaldi agrees to help Maggie Currim prove the innocence of her troubled adult son, Wes, who has confessed to the gruesome decapitation of a local businessman. Answers prove elusive as the murders begin to pile up, and Barnes escapes from FBI custody. Palumbo ratchets up the stakes in this grisly psychological thriller, but maintains the emotional complexity as Rinaldi weighs his loyalty to his patients against his faith in the FBI. (May)