MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Messiah Matrix Excerpt - Featured Title on BookDaily!




Mystery & Thriller
Apr. 30, 2013

Today's Featured Title

The Messiah Matrix [Kindle Edition]

by Kenneth John Atchity
ISBN / ASIN: 0957218907
Anyone passing Ryan McKeown, S.J., on his morning walk down Rome’s Janiculum, would have witnessed a worried-looking young man with dark shadows under his eyes. His usual composed countenance had disappeared and his furrowed brow revealed the burden he now bore. Images of the penitent’s death plagued him, more so because of the man’s extraordinary confession and enigmatic last words, “Find Father Ryan…memory in ashes of Jasius…in the Gesù.” Why did this mysterious monsignor use his last breath to deliver this strange message to his killer? What was he trying to tell me? 

It was appalling even to entertain the thought that Holy Mother Church might have ordered the killing of a monsignor. It was just too horrible to contemplate. Surely the Albanian was mistaken? 

Not only was he wrestling with the shock of dual murders but Ryan’s doubts about his faith now consumed his every waking moment and haunted his nights. It was mind versus spirit, and the mind threatened to destroy every feeling his spirit flourished on. Ryan’s mind was filled with a jumble of questions in a jumble of languages—English, commendably fluent Italian, and an ancient dialect insiders would readily identify as the vulgar Latin spoken almost exclusively at the highest ecclesiastical levels in Vatican City.
The names flashing through his brain—Eusebius, Philo Judaeus, Lactantius, Origen, Tertullian—were an esoteric litany of historians, poets, biblical scholars, and philosophers—all from the infancy of Christianity. Ryan’s obsession with tracking down the origins of the Catholic faith permeated his consciousness. 

The area spanned by Via Garibaldi was a living postcard of tiled roofs, bell towers, cupolas and gardens set off in breathtaking contrast against the cloudless turquoise sky. But this morning the young American priest, lost in ruminations about the fateful confession and his biblical doubts, had been oblivious to the spectacular view--and to the breeze ruffling his curly brown hair to more than usual disarray. It would be difficult to recognize Ryan as a recently ordained priest in his casual street clothes and comfortable black Reeboks, much less one enrolled in the pontifically authorized Society of Jesus, known to the world as “Jesuits.” 

Ryan’s questions about troubling inconsistencies in traditional Catholic doctrine had only grown more confusing as he’d turned from his graduate studies of the Latin epic poet Virgil to a temporary stint teaching a course on early Christian theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. At that time he was a Jesuit scholastic, getting in-the-classroom experience, and testing the demands of his calling. Now that his priesthood had been consecrated through the sacrament of Holy Orders and he had been dispatched to the Eternal City to study the New Testament and its commentaries, Father McKeown’s personal doubts and scholarly perplexities were, he feared, all too close to becoming a neurotic disorder. 

“How can I accept ordination with all this uncertainty?” he’d once asked his confessor, a functional octogenarian alcoholic, one of the cadre of emeriti that staffed the Woodstock seminary. 

“How do you feel about your faith?” the old man asked. 

“I feel wonderful,” Ryan admitted. “When I smell the incense in the presence of the Holy Sacrament, I feel…holy…I feel right.” 

“Then act as if you were certain,” the old priest had advised. “It is a corollary of Pascal’s wager. There’s no such thing in this world as absolute certainty. So accept that and go forward acting toward the best outcome no matter what.” 

As the days before his ordination became cluttered with crucial commitments and endless ceremonies, Ryan found he had no more time to entertain his uncertainties. The trouble with me, he ruminated, is that I’ve always had too little time—for everything. Things just keep happening before I’ve got them figured out. He’d always wished there could be an off-calendar eighth day of the week to do nothing but consolidate what you actually think, hopefully believe, and truly feel. 

It was all, to Ryan, a bit overwhelming—especially for a young man who was still intent on figuring out, one piece at a time, the immense puzzle that was the Roman Catholic Church, the religion into which he had been involuntarily baptized as an infant, willy-nilly confirmed as an adolescent, and hesitantly ordained as a priest of its most militant order.
Now it was too late, as far as the priesthood was concerned. He had been confirmed in that direction and, following his old confessor’s advice, determined to make the best of it. To his grateful surprise, even after his ordination his immediate superiors not only encouraged him to continue following his scholarly nose investigating the origins of the Church, but had also mysteriously arranged the residency in Rome. 

Whenever his scholarly path seemed to disappear before his eyes, he returned to the simple basic questions that had inspired this quest: How could it be that Theophilus, one of the earliest Christian apologists, wrote nearly 30,000 words about Christianity without once mentioning Jesus Christ? How come the name “Jesus Christ,” in fact, doesn’t appear in any Greek or Latin author until after the Council of Nicaea? Why was it that the only near-contemporary account that mentioned Christ, a suspiciously precise paragraph known as the Testimonium Flavianum, in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, had been proved to be a patent insertion into that historical narrative? How could Jesus have been born in 1 A.D. when the Gospels say he was born before Herod the Great died—and King Herod’s death could be pinpointed to 4 B.C.? Even Philip Cardinal Vasta, now known to the world as Pope Pius XIII, had lamented that the greatest obstacle for spreading the Catholic faith today was that the historical existence of Jesus could no longer be made credible. If Ryan could somehow find a way to stamp a measure of documented authenticity on the career of the Church’s founder, he would be serving the Holy Father as well as his own wavering vocation. If he could make that tangible contribution to the church, he might justify his own doubt-ridden existence and give himself a break. 

If he could find evidence to prove objectively that Jesus really existed as a human being, he’d be able to reconcile all the contradictions. Without that proof certain—that had eluded scholars for some two thousand years—every thread of the tapestry of biblical scholarship became just another loose end and his profession based on an allegory at best, at worst, a phantom.
Continues...
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Half of Amazon Book Sales are Planned Purchases



The Media Briefing’s Digital Media Strategies conference is going on in London this week. Although I couldn’t go, I’ve been able to follow along via Twitter and a couple of tweets have really stood out.

The speaker was Douglas McCabe, COO of Enders Analysis, who had other interesting points to make yesterday about the use of data, online market demographics and measuring success. But this single statistic, that nearly half of Amazon’s book sales come from people who already know what they want and are simply using Amazon as a way to get it, has huge implications.

 After conducting more than 250,000 interviews about reading behavior since 2004, Codex has found that a major shift has taken place in discovery in the past two years, as digital books have become a significant part of the book world.

Two years ago, 35% of book purchases were made because readers found out about a book in bricks-and-mortar bookstores, the single-largest site of discovery. This year, that figure has dropped to 17%, a reflection both of the closing of Borders and the rise of e-readers. In the same period, personal recommendations grew the most, to 22% from 14%. Some three-quarters of personal recommendations are made in person, while the rest come by e-mail (8%), phone (7%), Facebook (4%) and other social networks (3%).

Even though it’s not news that more and more readers are becoming “hybrid” readers, meaning they read and learn about books both online and off, the Codex study shows us that despite the hubbub, digital discovery does not carry as much weight as personal recommendations.

I’d recommend reading both links for more details on the Codex Group report that I, sadly, don’t have access to. They makes for fascinating reading!

It’s well known that book lovers are quite happy to spend time in a bricks-and-mortar bookshop to see what sort of interesting titles they find and then go home to buy on Amazon where the prices are often cheaper. Indeed, it’s been identified as such a significant problem that HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley recently made the interesting suggestion that bookshops ought to charge people to come in and browse, an idea that has had a somewhat chilly reception.
48 percent of Amazon book choices are pre-planned

Self-publishers often think themselves unaffected by ‘planned search and purchase’, not least because for most of us the idea of having our books in a bookshop feels like a distant dream. The assumption that self-publishers work to is that the key to cracking Amazon is to rank highly in their recommendation algorithm and many pixels are spilt by self-publishing bloggers telling us how to do exactly that.

But McCabe’s statistics show that only a piddling 10 percent of Amazon book choices are made because of its ‘bought this/also bought’ recommendation engine. Bestseller and top 100 lists influence 17 percent of book choices, with 12 percent down to promotions, deals, or low prices. Only 3 percent came through browsing categories. Planned search by author or topic, however, makes up a whopping 48 percent of all book choices.

The title of McCabe’s slide is “Amazon – only the end of the funnel, so far?”, and it’s an important point for self-publishers to take to heart. Amazon is a destination for purchase, the place you funnel your fans to, not a discovery mechanism in and of itself. People are simply not browsing for books based on Amazon’s recommendations, not in any significant numbers.

Self-published authors have limited resources for promotion and these figures show that you should focus not on trying to woo Amazon’s algorithm, but on building awareness outside of Amazon. Rather than hoping to gain traction within that 10 percent of people who pay attention to Amazon’s recommendations, or trying to crowbar your title into bestseller or top 100 lists, you should be focusing on building an independent fan base. No one can search for your books if they don’t know you exist.

I’ve written before about how self-publishers, and traditional publishers for that matter, should refocus on direct sales in order to collect valuable customer data. These stats bolster that position — if the majority of Amazon’s sales come from planned search, that indicates a clear intention to buy on the part of the searcher. That intention has been formed outside of Amazon, perhaps due to reviews, social media or word of mouth. And once your readers have formed an intention to buy, you can take action to funnel them to your own shop. For those of a rebellious nature who’d like to give Amazon the two fingers, that’s reassuring.


 http://www.forbes.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: “Dead Peasants” by Larry D. Thompson


Larry D. Thompson in his new book, “Dead Peasants” published by Thomas Dunne Books brings us into the life of Jack Bryant.

Synopsis:

Lawyer Jack Bryant retires early to Fort Worth to kick back, relax and watch his son play football at TCU. Bored with retirement he opens a pro bono office in his RV. When Jack finds an elderly widow at his doorstep, clutching a check for life insurance proceeds on her husband but payable to his former employer, Jack files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A seemingly accidental death of his client’s husband thrusts Jack into a vortex of serial killings. He and his new love interest find themselves targets in the same murder for hire scheme. To stop the killings Jack must unravel what in their past makes certain people worth more dead than alive.

Somehow the term, dead peasants and legal thriller do not seem to go hand in hand.  Dead Peasants seems to lend itself to a tale of knights and kings and feudal society don’t you agree?  It seems that dead peasants is a legal insurance term for when an employer takes out an insurance policy on his employees and continues to pay the premiums even after the employee’s dismissal or retirement. The employer hopes to collect the benefits upon that person’s death. This practice has been deemed illegal in most states.  Jack Bryant is brought into the case when he finds that the former employer of June Davis’ deceased husband had a very large life-insurance policy, a dead peasant policy, on her husband, which made the employer the beneficiary.  Now as Jack goes to court to collect the benefits rightfully due June he also has to battle to stay alive as he has walked into a murder mine field.  This is one exciting book.  An action, adventure, mystery, courtroom thriller as Jack’s life is in deadly danger.  I do not recommend you drink coffee while reading this book as there is more than enough excitement to keep you going.  Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this book as you will want to finish it before going to bed.  “Dead Peasants” is an exciting adventure from start to finish.


 http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/


Monday, April 22, 2013

Honored To Be A Sponsor of Yoga Gives Back Sister Aid



Filmed in November 2012, this 7 minute video tells inspiring stories of YGB fund recipients, as well shedding light on the harsh reality they live in. YGB's direct funding program "Sister Aid" is making a positive impact on so many mothers and daughters in India.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nook Users Book Club Reviews Larry D. Thompson's Dead Peasants

Jack Bryant was born and raised in Ft Worth, Texas.  Some might say he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks.  Jack, soon to retire, is a successful plaintiff lawyer practicing in Beaumont, Texas.   He moved back to his home town to watch his son play college football and to show all of those people (from the right side of the tracks) how well this former poor boy did as an adult.  His son, JD Jr., is a walk-on at TCU and is balancing his training with spending time with his father.  Upon arriving home Jack meets Colby Stripling, a woman with a secret, as well as a real estate agent who sells him the oversized home that he pays for with cash, just because.

When Jack realizes that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be he decides to become a pro bono lawyer for the less fortunate.  His first case is for June Davis, the widow of a local man (Willie Jr.) Jack has become friends with. June finds out by accident that his former employer, Allison Motors, had a life insurance policy on her late husband that paid $400,000 when he died.  Jack attempts to get Allison Motors to relinquish the funds to June however, during the course of the trial it is determined that there is more going on than just one Dead Peasant policy.

This is a fun and fast paced novel without a lot of unnecessary filler.  The characters had very distinct personalities, even those that were not so prominent such as Willie Jr. You could see the confusion he suffered with the changing racial times and what he was brought up with.   The descriptions of the area are rich and accurate.  Being a Native of Fort Worth, I loved reading about Fort Worth, the local streets, buildings and areas that are so familiar to me.  On the other hand, I found some of the other details to be exaggerated. We understand that Jack is filthy rich and he likes things a certain way, but it felt like overkill or name dropping with the incessant use of name brands or school names.  It felt a little bit like product placement in the movies.  However, these negatives are not enough to distract from the story line.  The novel made us guess and then guess again as twist and turns led to the eventual killer.  This book is not too long (~210 pages) and would make for a great read weekend read. Excellent job!


    
About the Author:  Larry D. Thompson is a veteran trial lawyer and has drawn on decades of experience in the courtroom to produce riveting legal thrillers. Dead Peasants is is third After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Thompson founded the Houston trial firm where he still serves as managing partner. The proud father of three grown children, he lives and works in Texas but spends his summers in Colorado, where he crafts his novels and hikes the mountains surrounding Vail. His greatest inspiration came from Thomas Thompson, his brother, who wrote many best-selling true-crime books and novels.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ken Atchity on the Apple e-books case and its impact on the book industry

More on the changing landscape in literature and publishing

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Story Merchant Ken Atchity takes time out from working on the movie, “The Kennedy Detail” in Louisiana, to talk with Larry and Dave about the Apple price-fixing case and its potential and real impacts on traditional publishers and booksellers.

Ken’s Story Merchant Books imprint is part of a major shift to digital publishing, requiring a different mindset and marketing strategy. Ken talks about his passion for stories and introducing new authors, and how Story Merchant Books offers the author higher payback and more control over the content than sales through traditional publishing channels.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nadine Maritz's My Addiction Author Interview – Donna Williams on Nobody Nowhere.

Three weeks ago we did a huge interview with Beverly Nero and Dan Ireland on your autobiography Nobody Nowhere going to film. It’s therefore a great honour to do a formal interview with yourself. Donna thanks so much for granting MA this interview.
No problem. Nice to meet you
Donna, from the discussions I had with Beverly a view week’s back, you have fought through various difficulties in life. People thought you to be deaf, psychotic, disturbed even retarded. You fought through cancer, endured a double mastectomy and still managed to bring a message across to others. How do you manage all of this?
I was diagnosed as psychotic at the age of 2, had primary immune deficiencies since infancy, later came the usual that goes with that, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and, yes, cancer, the diagnosis of a connective tissue disorder, dysautonomia, central apnea... I call it 'fall apart syndrome'. It’s all clay, shit if you like, but to a sculptor of life it’s like clay... take shit, make sculptures. So it doesn't defy life, derail life, it IS part of the fabric of life. It shapes me, but I also learn who I am in defying all of it, I reinforce the sovreignity of my personhood. It gives me enough crap to experience my hero moment, to become the person I'd most want to take to the battle front, the person who would have earned my respect, trust, belief in. Sharing that with the world is part of awareness that life is short, humanising the tough stuff for others, awareness that we are all star stuff, being a citizen of the community.
As a child you obviously went through a lot considering people never understood autism at that time, how did you manage? When did you get to the point of understanding that this was in fact autism and not some kind of psychotic disease?
I didn't have functional speech until I was around 9-11 years old and even then was so dominated by Exposure Anxiety that I couldn't ask anything complex or personal until my late teens and twenties. Something happens to you when you grow up like that, especially if there's nobody to wipe your butt for you. I had one parent probably on the autism spectrum, the other parent I experienced as psychopathic. It was like growing up in a sideshow, a dangerous, wild, colorful sideshow. There was so much survival to deal with. So although I had the need to understand, it wasn't until my 20s that I had enough speech, enough conversational skills and enough capacity to ask personal, emotional questions and that's when I learned that I was diagnosed as psychotic at age 2 and that people had thought I was autistic (which was then an adjective used to describe psychotic children). But learning I was intelligent, I realised that at age 11, that I wasn't disturbed or crazy, that took longer... especially because I WAS traumatised, dissociated, had anxiety and compulsive disorders but was not actually psychotic. That's a hard one to fathom.
And at first, when my autism was finally compassionately explained to me in my 20s, I accepted it as a condition, a developmental disability. But progressively I thought, no, this condition is actually a whole bunch of different things, a 'fruit salad', a 'jumbled jigsaw', which when mixed up enough and overwhelming enough derails usual development and presents as what we know as autistic. Sure, I could be autistic and have curly hair, shortness and be my own flavour of crazy too.
I also realised that everyone has some 'fruit salad' and that I didn't have to be 'normal' to be equal, nor could I presume the world would naturally acknowledge my equality. I realised I would have to advocate for my own version of 'normal', and equality in difference.
How would people know that they are in fact dealing with a child that suffers from autism?
Each child with autism has their own collection of fruit salad... I was faceblind, meaning deaf, saw my world in bits, had a lot of jumbled sensory messages, was echolalic and had involuntary avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses – quite 'feral', 'bizarre', 'odd' – and the health issues made me rather out of it. The inability to cope meant I spent a lot of time in self-directed chatter, caught up with my reflection, sensory 'buzzing', dissociated from body, mind, emotions. But another autistic child may have obsessional interests, be unable to read facial expression, body language, intonation and come across more as literal, obsessive, a little professor. Another may give up all their skills and development out of fear of losing a monopoly over the carer and fight to stay at the developmental level of a toddler. Another may be capable but reclusive, silent and struggle to emotionally connect to others. Another may have little control over their speech or behaviour but through typed communication demonstrate a high level of ability, intelligence and empathy. As an adult I became an autism consultant and worked with over a 1000 kids with autism so I can tell you the reality is they are very different fruit salads and very different personalities and for every stereotype they fit there will be a stereotype they shatter.
Where could people reach out for assistance when they think they or their children suffer from autism?
The question of whether kids with autism suffer is worth addressing... sometimes its the family that suffers more than the child with autism, or the siblings, sometimes the child with autism is the least challenging child in the family! Some kids with autism will have overwhelming 'fruit salad' that makes up their autism and they will suffer from some parts of that but indulge, enjoy, even thrive because of other parts of their autism. So it’s very diverse which is one of the things I hope people get from the different characters in the film. As for where can families get help... well that would be from their local autism chapter, from online groups, from talking to a range of adults on the spectrum who may have experienced some of what their children are dealing with.

Your autobiography Nobody Nowhere has been getting great reviews, it’s said by many to be an eye opener, was this always the intention? To write about it, get the word out there or was it something you did for yourself? A way you managed to deal with your own problem?
It was an international bestseller and 15 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List when it came out, so it was a ground-breaking, evocative and shocking book. I wrote it as a means of giving myself permission to jump in front of a train on the London Underground. An inner voice said I didn't have a right to throw my life away until I let at least one human being really know me. It was like I couldn't leave this world until I ticked that last box. I had such a degree of involuntary avoidance, diversion, retaliation responses that I couldn't dare let anyone know me with any depth in any on-going way... I felt invaded if the external world got entangled with my own world it triggered rampant fight-flight responses... so the only way I could do it was to purge my life on paper. I wrote the book in 3 weeks, typing night and day, barely eating, washing, and sleeping. Then I thrust it at a child psychiatrist to have them tell me 'what kind of mad I am'. My belief was he would tell me I was mad, hopelessly so, and then I could shred the manuscript, burn it and rather smugly go ahead and do what I wanted to do which was to exit the body I felt entrapped me, made me vulnerable by virtue of its very existence, I wanted to erase it, to steal my spirit away from the body through killing the body, to set it free, become a ghost and leave it discarded. But the reaction of that psychiatrist utterly floored me. He read it and told me there was nothing like it in the world, that it would change the way autism was seen for all others with autism. I felt, well, I was about to thrown my life away, how dare I steal from others this opened door, this chance at their own autism being understood. I decided to 'sacrifice' the manuscript, I left it behind in the UK and went back to Australia. The psychiatrist passed it on in my absence and several passes later I was shocked to get a fax from a UK literary agent who now had it, had four publishers bidding for it, and was desperate for me to agree to its publication. I was talked into conceding to that. Progressively it took a lot of work to come to terms with going from someone so afraid of being known I was ready to give up on life to someone who became a public speaker, autism consultant and author, in the end, of 9 books in the field of autism.
Your helpfulness towards others led you to Beverly Nero, what was your first impression when you decided to put your book onto film?
The book was near impossible for another writer to put into film because the language, the way of thinking, of perceiving was so utterly foreign to non-autistic reality. It really needed an autistic writer, but more than autism it needed Donnaism... I am strikingly idiosyncratic, what people refer to as 'what a character'... and ultimately it really takes that same person to write the script in that same voice. I had written a few scenes some time before so I knew I could write powerful scenes... I just didn't know I could write a powerful script or that the script could be as gobsmacking, as magical as the book. I think what was so wonderful was that being echolalic and echopractic (mirroring voice and actions of others) ironically made me an ideal script writer... I could easily convey the characters from the book as they were... even when I took characters and merged them into one, they were taken as being 'real people' which I think is when I knew I really could write film.
Beverly mentioned that you write your own screenplay for the film. Was it something you had to do some research on or did it come naturally – writing the screenplay?
Just as I wrote the book in 3 weeks, I wrote the first draft of the screenplay in around 4 weeks. At that time I had no idea other people have to think and write... for me it was more like... dissociate, stare into space and let the writing write itself out from your fingers. That's the way I sculpt, paint, write... its more like a dream state... like I'm typing directly out of a dream state, hypnogogic really. So, naturally? Sure, my version of natural.

How involved are you in casting the actors for the film? Beverly did mention that your character in itself was a difficult and they require an actress with authenticity
Bev and I have spent years talking casting. I navigate by sensing... I map people like a cat does. Maybe because I grew up meaning deaf, face blind, seeing my world in bits. But it means I can encounter an actor or actress for 30 seconds and I've mapped them... their tone, their 'music of beingness'... it’s like a 'tune', a 'signature' unique to each person, but people's 'music' can resonate, be harmonious, or be dissonant. So I have a good sense of who fits, their range, their patterns, their feel. Of course I also look at them logically, their range, their achievements, and their level of life experience too. I returned to school in my 20s and became a sociologist, later a teacher. I think I bring those skills to casting input too.
Dan Ireland is a well-known director, how was it to work so close with him?


Dan is gorgeous... we hit it off like old time pals... he's fun and funny but he knuckles down, he dares to challenge, but he's an open channel too, he listens, he's timely, a doer. I think 'Donna time' blew him away a bit... I don't think he's ever worked with anyone who turns a script around as quickly as me. It was a great synergy working with Dan. He really got not just Donna but the plethora of characters in the film. He savoured them like sweets in a candy store. Our enthusiasm bounced off each each other and a lot of the time we were on fire!
Upon me asking Dan what he would take away from turning your autobiography to film he gave us the great reply of:
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.”
This is quite an emotional statement, something that shows he looks up at you in many ways. What do you take away from all of this? From getting published, going over to film, working with people like Beverly, Ken Atchity and Dan Ireland?
Oh dear, I'm so simple really on that level... I just liked these folks, Beverly Nero, Norman Stephens, Ken Atchity, Dan Ireland... I found them to be like new flavours in one of life's ice cream stores and I was passing through and enjoying the flavours and out of it formed these creative partnerships, each of them challenging me in new ways, new adventures in the world of film. I think my father, the character 'Jackie Paper' in the film, is quite 'Willie Wonker'... he was in real life... and as his daughter I'm rather 'Willie Wonker' too... so I guess all things are 'normal' in my world, or maybe there is no 'normal' so all things just 'are'... and my life took me into the film world and I took it in my stride and enjoyed the adventure. I'm just glad these folks were autie friendly, diversity friendly, Donnaism friendly. I'm glad they've enjoyed the experience too :-)

Where to from here?
Hmm... well in addition to all I mentioned I also became a singer songwriter with several albums, two songs in an international TV series, have sold my artwork around the world, had two books of poetry published, celebrated 10 years of a great marriage to a wonderful partner, got a great chatty cat we adore, live in a simple house in the hills among parrots and gumtrees on the outskirts of Melbourne and I enjoy the Taoist perspective that sustains me and shapes all I experience. But where to from here is presently dealing with autoimmune disease and knowing what all that means. My health disorders may not allow me to make it to 65, perhaps not even 55, so I've retired at 49 and am presently teaching art. Like the woman who died the same day I was born – Edith Piaf – Je n'regrette rien - I have no regrets about my lot. What more can one want from this life, this world, than that?
Last but not least where can people stay in contact with you or follow your work?
They can come visit Donnaville at my website www.donnawilliams.net where they'll also find links to my blog, my Facebook pages, my Twitter.
Thank you for the interview Nadine and all the best in your own life and future.
Donna, Thanks so much for granting us this opportunity to know more of yourself and your journey. M.A is grateful for everything you have done towards society and the courage you show in everything life throws your way. We can but only hope that more people will be inspired by what you do and who you are.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Messiah Matrix Four Star Review

THE MESSIAH MATRIX
A Thriller by
Kenneth John Atchity
OVERVIEW: (from The Messiah Matrix Home)

What Lengths Would The Vatican Go To Suppress The Origins Of  Their Faith??

That's the story behind THE MESSIAH MATRIX,  a thriller that delves into the secrets of the past, and brings forward those who hide  them still. You will follow a young Jesuit priest and a brilliant archaeologist as they seek their passion for truth.  At the same time they are trying to control their passion for each other. During their trek for truth they uncover a well kept secret.  A secret that the Vatican has been keeping. A secret that the Curia has never wanted to be known.front cover

From the first page to the last you are on a quest from the ancient city of Caesarea to Rome's catacombs and beyond.  It is a confirmation for those who ever wondered about the historical existence of the "Christian Saviour".
This book may be the most thought provoking thriller ever written.  Classical scholar and Yale Ph.D. Dr.Kenneth L John Atchity is the only author alive today capable of  creating this literary and historically-based masterpiece.

"All that is hidden must now be revealed."


REVIEW:

Author, Kenneth John Atchity, Ph.D., writes a brilliant novel, THE MESSIAH MATRIX.  It is a story that makes the reader view religion differently. Mr. Atchity is an accomplished author, scholar and producer.  There definitely isn't any disappointment in his writing.

The book is definitely a page turner.  It puts that gray matter to work. As the author seeks truth and origin of Christianity, the book draws the reader into corruption, murder, romance and rich history.  The setting is in Italy. The author has done much research to write this story about such a controversial idea.

You will find that you can't put the book down.  The story of Christ is different than the story told by the Bible. The author weaves a web that at times is hard to unravel. The characters become united even when you least expect it.  The book has a lot of mystery and yet a lot of  usage for the brain.  You get to thinking, maybe it was this way.

THE MESSIAH MATRIX's subject matter is highly controversial.  I believe some people will be upset with the subject matter.  You have to read it with a open mind.

I would recommend this book to anyone who can go into it with an open mind.

 



I would give this book a 4 STARS

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

About The Story Merchant

branding entertainment media content consulting
The ancient Phoenicians were legendary merchants, often credited with the first evidence of advertising and branding east of the Indus - not to mention the invention of the alphabet! On their iconic ships, they delivered stories and culture from every port they visited, along with in-demand goods to distant consumer markets.

Ken Atchity inherited that marketing spirit from his father’s Lebanese ancestors, and his philosophy today is represented by its convergence with the Cajun tradition of creative ingenuity from his mother’s side.

With more than forty years experience in the publishing world, and twenty years in entertainment, Dr. Ken Atchity is a self-defined "story merchant" - writer, producer, career coach, teacher, and literary manager, responsible for launching dozens of books and films. His life's passion is finding great storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters.

Ken has produced 30 films, including "Hysteria" (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Informant Media), "Expatriate" (Aaron Eckhart, Informant), the Emmy-nominated "The Kennedy Detail" (Discovery), "The Lost Valentine" (Betty White; Hallmark Hall of Fame), "Joe Somebody" (Tim Allen; Fox), "Life or Something Like It" (Angelina Jolie; Fox), "The Amityville Horror" (NBC), "Shadow of Obsession" (NBC), "The Madam's Family" (Ellen Burstyn; CBS), "Gospel Hill" (Danny Glover; Fox), and "14 Days with Alzheimer's" (with Story Merchant client Lisa Cerasoli).

Films in development include "Memories of 100," "Meg," "Boobytrap," "Demonkeeper," "Dr. Fuddle and the Golden Baton," and "Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not!" (starring Jim Carrey; Paramount). Full film bio at imdb

His 14 books include books for writers at every stage of their careers.

Based on his own teaching and writing experience, Ken has successfully built bestselling careers for novelists, nonfiction writers, and screenwriters from the ground up. Clients include bestsellers Steve Alten, Jerry Blaine and Lisa McCubbin, Royce Buckingham, Alaya Johnson, Clint Hill, John Scott Shepherd, Noire, Shirley Palmer, Dennis Palumbo, James Michael Pratt, Larry Thompson, Tracy Price-Thompson, Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not!, Cheryl Saban, and Governor Jesse Ventura.

Ken's Story Merchant companies, AEI, and The Writer's Lifeline have provided full-service development and management machine for commercial and literary writers who wish to launch their storytelling in all media--from publishing and film and television production, to Web presence and merchandising & licensing.


Lisa Cerasoli - Executive VP 

branding entertainment media content consulting
In 2003, Lisa Cerasoli and Dr. Atchity met for the first time about her script. He thought it read like a novel, tossed her a book and said, “Write it like this.” Two weeks and fifty pages later, Lisa was hooked. Recently, with Dr. Atchity in the executive producer seat, she directed and produced, “14 DAYS with Alzheimer’s.”

Originally a Michigan girl, Cerasoli moved to L.A. in ’95. She nabbed two series, Acapulco Bay and General Hospital, and recurring roles on The Pretender, Diagnosis Murder, Pensacola, Boomtown and more...Family matters drew her back home. Since then, Lisa’s received 25+ national/international awards including:

On the Brink of Bliss and Insanity (Five Star Publications, 2009)
Winner Best Romance: Los Angeles, London, Hollywood Book Festivals
Silver Medal - Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year
As Nora Jo Fades Away: Confessions of a Caregiver (Five Star, 2010) 
Foreword by Leeza Gibbons
Winner - Paris and Hollywood Book Festivals
“14 DAYS with Alzheimer’s” A Documentary Short
WIN: Randy Becker TV Web Series Competition 2013
Women’s International Film Festival, Los Angeles
Detroit Windsor Film Festival
Grand Rapids Film Festival 

BEST OF FEST: Seattle Film Awards 

AUDIENCE CHOICE: Boulder, Life & Death Matters Festival
As Executive Vice president of Story Merchant, Lisa dedicates her immense energies, management and editorial skills, and visionary focus to helping writers move their careers forward. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Guest Post: Getting Out of Your Own Way by Dennis Palumbo



Hollywood on the Couch

The inside scoop on Tinseltown, USA.
by Dennis Palumbo

For an artist, "being yourself" may be simple, but it's not easy.

I want to talk about the most important thing a creative person must know how to do---which, for lack of a better phrase, is just to get out of his or her own way. Or as cellist Pablo Casals said, about playing music well, “Learn the notes and forget about ‘em.”

Simple, isn’t it? You have a story to tell, plot beats to tell it, characters to live it, and the will to create it. (You may even have a deal to deliver it.) All you have to do is get out of the way and let the creativity “happen.”

See? Simple, right? Not exactly. Because, as a former teacher of mine once remarked, “It may be simple, but it ain’t easy.”

For years, as a Hollywood screenwriter, I struggled to “get out of my own way,” without really understanding what that meant. The phrase always had a kind of down-home, common-sense, don’t-make-such-a-big-deal-out-of-it quality that I was often frustrated with myself for my difficulty in achieving it.

(Similar to my response to the advice to just “be myself,” whenever I was anxious about some upcoming interpersonal conflict. Again, simple but not easy.)

As it’s generally understood, “getting out of your own way” implies somehow putting aside the anxieties and doubts,ego concerns and career pressures, “mental blocks” and “critical inner voices”---pick your favorite pet term---that stand between you and the effortless flow of work. As though, if you just did enough therapy, or meditated deeply enough, or visualized sincerely enough, or manifested enough positive energy, you could disavow all the “stuff” that gets in the way of your creativity.

If only, in other words, you were different than who you are.

Because the simple fact is, we do bring our “stuff” to our creative endeavors, “stuff” that runs the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime, the irritating to the overwhelming. Some artists can’t get past their fear of failure; some struggle with a nagging sense of inadequacy regarding their talent; some feel the pressure of being unknown and thus feeling powerless. (Or even, ironically, the reverse: Norman Mailer once talked of the feeling of creative paralysis that came over him after he’d achieved fame. “It wasn’t just me sitting down to write,” he said. “It was Norman Mailer sitting down to write. I had to live up to him.”)

Add to that the relationship issues, financial pressures, marketplace fluctuations, and sense of isolation that creative types must contend with on a daily basis---and suddenly the amount of “stuff” you’re supposed to put aside in order to “get out of your own way” starts to feel like a veritable mountain of personal baggage.

That’s because it is. Each of us lugs around enough baggage to warrant the name Samsonite. It’s the trait we share with every other human being. Our “stuff” is who we are. Our hopes and fears, faith and doubt, empathy and envy, loves and hatreds and fantasies and habits and prejudices and favorite movies and the way we tie our shoes and whether we like asparagus and on and on and on. That’s us. Human beings.

One particular subset of human beings, creative artists, have all the same “stuff” as the rest of the tribe. Except for the need and desire to create art out of it. We may produce stories or screenplays. Or films or TV pilots. Or novels, poems, and songs. But what all artists, regardless of approach, really do is try to make sense of their “stuff.” In a language or medium or form that is understandable to the audience. In other words, “stuff” talking to “stuff.”

Now comes the paradox. If I, the artist, get out of my own way---that is, put my “stuff” aside so I can create---what’s left to explore creatively? My “stuff” is the raw materials of my work.

In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and just say it: there is nothing but stuff. Which is great, because that means I’ll never run out of raw material. As long as I’m a human being, I have an inexhaustible supply.

I began this column by stating that the most important thing an artist had to do was get out of his or her own way. Haven’t I just challenged this statement? No. I’m only challenging the conventional view of what that means.

Let me explain: From my perspective, a creative artist who invites all of who he or she is into the mix---who sits down to work engulfed in “stuff,” yet doesn’t give these thoughts and feelings a negative connotation; who in fact strives to accept and integrate whatever thoughts and feelings emerge---this artist has truly gotten out of his or her own way.

From this standpoint, it’s only by labeling a thought or feeling as either good or bad, productive or harmful, that you’re actually getting in your own way. Restricting your creative flow.

Getting out of your own way means being with who you are, moment to moment, whether you like it or not. Whether or not it’s easy or comfortable, familiar or disturbing. And then creating from that place.

As I said, simple but not easy.