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

The Messiah Matrix Has Been Awarded eLit's Bronze Medal in the Mystery / Suspense / Thriller Category!

The fourth annual eLit Awards are a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.

TIPS: New Smashwords Research Helps Authors and Publishers Sell More Ebooks

Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords

Last year at the 2012 RT Booklovers in Chicago, I released a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed sales data for self-published ebooks. Our goal was to identify potential factors that could help authors sell more ebooks.

Two weeks ago at the 2013 RT Booklovers convention in Kansas City, I shared new, updated data in a session titled, Money, Money, Money -- Facts & Figures for Financial Payoff.

Some of the results were surprising, some were silly, and some I expect will help authors and publishers make their ebooks more appealing to consumers.

2013-05-15-wordcloud.pngFor the study this year, we analyzed over $12 million in sales for a collection of 120,000 Smashwords ebooks between May 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013. We aggregated our sales data from across our retail distribution network, which includes the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Amazon (only about 200 of our 200,000 titles are at Amazon). As the world's largest distributor of self-published ebooks, I think our study represents the most comprehensive analysis ever of how ebooks from self-published authors and small independent presses are behaving in the marketplace.

Imagine dozens of levers and dials attached to a book that the author can twist, turn and tweak. When you get everything just right, your book's sales will increase through viral through word-of-mouth. In my free ebook, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, I refer to these tweakable levers as Viral Catalysts. A Viral Catalyst is anything that makes a book more available, more accessible, more discoverable, more desirable and more enjoyable to readers.

The survey attempts to identify Viral Catalysts by analyzing the common characteristics of bestselling (and poor-selling) Smashwords ebooks.

We posed a series of questions to our data to reveal answers that might help authors reach more readers.

The questions included:

    Do frequent price changes help authors sell more books?

    Do longer or shorter book titles sell more books?

    Do longer or shorter book descriptions sell more books?

    How do sales develop over time at a retailer, and what factors might spark a breakout?

    Do longer or shorter books sell better?

    What's the average word count for the 60 bestselling Smashwords romance books?

    What does the sales distribution curve look like, and how many books sell well?

    How many words are the bestselling authors selling for a penny?

    What are the most common price points for indie ebooks, and what changed since last year?

    How many more downloads do FREE ebooks get compared to priced ebooks?

    How have Smashwords sales grown at the Apple iBookstore in three years?

    How does price impact unit sales volume?

    What price points yield the greatest overall earnings for authors and publishers?

    What does the Yield Graph portend for the future of publishing?

Read More For Key Findings

One-Day Deals Making E-Books Brief Best Sellers

Guest Post Cosa Nostra News' Q and A with Hit Man Ray Ferritto's Wife Susan

Raymond W. Ferritto (1929 − May 10, 2004), an Italian American mobster from Erie, Pennsylvania, is best known for the 1977 murder of Irish mob boss Danny Greene.

In the 1970s, Danny Greene began competing with the Cleveland crime family for control of union rackets, resulting in a violent mob war. During this period, there were almost 40 car bombings in Cleveland and eight failed attempts to kill Greene. Finally, Cleveland family bosses Jack "Jack White" Licavoli and Angelo "Big Ange" Lonardo contracted Ferritto to assassinate Greene.

Upon hearing of Ferritto’s arrest for the hit, Licavoli put out a hit contract on Ferritto. When Ferritto learned that the Cleveland family wanted him dead, he became a government witness and testified against his co-defendants in the 1978 trial.

Ferritto served less than four years in prison for both murders. Ray Ferritto left the Witness Protection Program after one year and continued to stay in Pennsylvania.

There is much more to the story: What's past is prologue. He met Susan around this time, the two fell in love and married. Susan wrote a book about Ray -- "Ferritto: An Assassin Scorned" -- and answered some questions for us, below:

1.) Ray is known as the man who killed “The Irishman” then turned informant---that is true. But not many people know why. What was his motive?

Ray was well known as a highly respected underworld figure and member of La Cosa Nostra since the forties. His focus was to someday become boss of his own territory. Over the years, he had proven himself as a loyal soldier and was regarded as a mobster who could get things done, no matter what the job was. During 1976, Cleveland mob wars raged on killing several high profile gangsters and over thirty separate bombings had put the city in a tailspin. In eight separate failed attempts, different Cleveland hit men tried to kill Irish mobster Danny Greene who was stepping on their turf. The bosses were getting desperate and turned to Ray for help.


So when the Cleveland bosses offered Ray a leadership position and his own territory in return for killing their enemy…the Irishman…he jumped at the opportunity. However, the bosses were secretly plotting Ray’s demise once he got that job done, all for the sake of keeping their territory. They intentionally set him up to take the fall on Danny Greene’s bombing death. But it would take the Feds to convince Ray that he too was on their hit list. He felt he had done the Cleveland bosses the biggest favor of their lives when no one else could, and now they wanted him dead.

Ray was looking at murder charges along with the death penalty. So it was a choice of who was going to kill him…the State of Ohio or the Cleveland mobsters. At that point, he was a man with nothing to lose. In essence, his associates had betrayed him at the highest level and this was his revenge.

2.) He singlehandedly brought down Licavoli and his outfit?

Well, he did the unthinkable and initiated one of the most notorious takedowns for the feds in mob history. He waged his own public battle by turning states evidence to destroy those who had ordered his death. Unfortunately, his method of revenge took on a life of its own when the bosses started turning against each other to save their own skins. “If the mob knew what they did when they killed Danny Greene or what they were going to start (when they betrayed Ray) they never would have done it,” said Pete Elliott, retired United States Marshall.

3.) Ray amazingly started his own family when he got out. How did he pull that off?

Well, after the trials, he refused the witness protection program and against the Feds advice, Ray returned home and picked up where he left off with prior business associates. He felt he could better protect himself on his own turf. He knew that he was just as capable of handling himself and the persons they would send in to kill him. Ray was a man of no fear and warned others to stay out of his way. Doing the unthinkable only seemed to earn him more respect from past associates when he hit the streets. Erie was wide open then. The older mobsters that were still hanging on to their territories now moved over for Ray and pretty much gave him some reign. He built it back up from there. Prior business ties and a multimillion dollar sports betting operation was his salvation. One thing you don’t do to the mob is cut the hand that feeds them, and Ray had been their moneymaker for years.

4.) Can you describe the night you met Ray?

We met at Orlando’s funeral Parlor in Erie. Ray had only been home a few months from his three year ordeal with the Danny Greene bombings when he found his business partner Bolo Dovishaw dead in the basement of his home. Bolo had been killed gangland style. Several days later, Ray and longtime friend and associate Cy Ciotti were at the funeral parlor when I walked in to pay my last respects to my old friend “Bolo”. Cy made the introductions and it was love at first site. I knew right then that Ray was going to be a big part of my life. Ray asked me if I would have dinner with him when this mess was over with. Jokingly, I said, “Sure kid, I can wait another two years till the feds clean this one up!” I left him with my phone number written in ink on his wrist. He phoned the following day and said, “I don’t think I can wait till the feds clean this one up…can I come over for coffee?” We were together ever since.

5.) What kind of man was he? How would you describe him to those who only saw the movie, TO KILL THE IRISHMAN?

 Ray was a remarkable man and one of many faces. He was always respected by his associates in the criminal world and was equally respected by the real world. He was a man of his word and knew where his boundaries were. His laid back, quiet, polite reserved mannerisms and demeanor made him a likable charming character. And, oddly enough, when in the company of his business associates he was a hard and temperamental dangerous killer, skilled safecracker, loan shark and knew how to organize business for the mob. I can’t dismiss his human side as well. He was a grandfather, a father, a brother, an uncle, a husband who was a caring compassionate, loyal and loving individual when in our presence.

The actor Robert Davi who portrayed Ray in the movie, definitely captured his demeanor and the business side of Ray as well as. But the well documented story focused on the life and death of Danny Greene and left the audience with …what ever happened to his killer…Ferritto?

All they could say about Ray at the end of the movie was that he just got too big for his own pants. Really??? The audience had no idea that the murder of Greene was only the real start of the downfall of the Cleveland regime. And it angered me that Ray was labeled “A Turncoat” in the eyes of the public. The reality was that when you kill the legend, you become the legand.

6.) What made you write the book? And, what does it mean to you?

I felt the need to defend his memory and to give his side of this story. I cannot condone these actions but I wanted to give him some justification. After all…Ray is the only mob assassin to my knowledge that escaped the death penalty and execution by the mob for turning states evidence. Sure, he wasn’t the first or the last for that matter of those who did turn government witness. He is however, the only mobster who went on to become a boss. That in itself is the remarkable story and unheard of in the criminal world. Others that became informants are either incarcerated, dead or hiding in the witness protection program. The need to defend his memory far outweighed my silence. And in this I found the closure that I was so desperately seeking after his passing.

7.) Do you keep in touch with mafia ties?

Yes, I do. Contrary to the belief that when a mobster dies, all his family relationships are severed as well…or shunned as they say. My case has been different. Several have reached out to me over the years and I will respect their privacy at this time.

I will take the liberty of mentioning one in particular as I can relate to his emotional journey back in time. Attorney Dennis Walsh, son of Robert Walsh (Ex-cop turned gangster and longtime associate of Ray’s) recently wrote his own book, recounting some of his father’s war stories and most importantly the quest for justice in his own brother’s murder. The name of his book is “Nobody Walks.”

Those who can't create, calculate ... ? [via David Angsten]

Solving Equation of a Hit Film Script, With Data

Vinny Bruzzese, chief executive of Worldwide Motion Picture Group, and Miriam Brin, head of script analysis.

LOS ANGELES — Forget zombies. The data crunchers are invading Hollywood.

The same kind of numbers analysis that has reshaped areas like politics and online marketing is increasingly being used by the entertainment industry.

Netflix tells customers what to rent based on algorithms that analyze previous selections, Pandora does the same with music, and studios have started using Facebook “likes” and online trailer views to mold advertising and even films.

Now, the slicing and dicing is seeping into one of the last corners of Hollywood where creativity and old-fashioned instinct still hold sway: the screenplay.

A chain-smoking former statistics professor named Vinny Bruzzese — “the reigning mad scientist of Hollywood,” in the words of one studio customer — has started to aggressively pitch a service he calls script evaluation. For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success. His company, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers. What do you like? What should be changed?

“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”

Bowling scenes tend to pop up in films that fizzle, Mr. Bruzzese, 39, continued. Therefore it is statistically unwise to include one in your script. “A cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero,” one like Superman who acts as a protector, he added.

His recommendations, delivered in a 20- to 30-page report, might range from minor tightening to substantial rewrites: more people would relate to this character if she had a sympathetic sidekick, for instance.

Script “doctors,” as Hollywood refers to writing consultants, have long worked quietly on movie assembly lines. But many top screenwriters — the kind who attain exalted status in the industry, even if they remain largely unknown to the multiplex masses — reject Mr. Bruzzese’s statistical intrusion into their craft.

“This is my worst nightmare” said Ol Parker, a writer whose film credits include “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” “It’s the enemy of creativity, nothing more than an attempt to mimic that which has worked before. It can only result in an increasingly bland homogenization, a pell-mell rush for the middle of the road.”

Mr. Parker drew a breath. “Look, I’d take a suggestion from my grandmother if I thought it would improve a film I was writing,” he said. “But this feels like the studio would listen to my grandmother before me, and that is terrifying.”

But a lot of producers, studio executives and major film financiers disagree. Already they have quietly hired Mr. Bruzzese’s company to analyze about 100 scripts, including an early treatment for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which has taken in $484.8 million worldwide.

Mr. Bruzzese (pronounced brew-ZEZ-ee), who is one of a very few if not the only entrepreneur to use this form of script analysis, is plotting to take it to Broadway and television now that he has traction in movies.

“It takes a lot of the risk out of what I do,” said Scott Steindorff, a producer who used Mr. Bruzzese to evaluate the script for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” a hit 2011 crime drama. “Everyone is going to be doing this soon.” Mr. Steindorff added, “The only people who are resistant are the writers: ‘I’m making art, I can’t possibly do this.’ ” 

 Audience research has been known to save a movie, but it has also famously missed the mark. Opinion surveys — “idiot cards,” as some unimpressed directors call them — indicated that “Fight Club” would be the flop of the century. It took in more than $100 million worldwide.

... “All screenwriters think their babies are beautiful,” he said, taking a chug of Diet Dr Pepper followed by a gulp of Diet Coke and a drag on a Camel. “I’m here to tell it like it is: Some babies are ugly.” 

Read More


The Bruce Collins Show- “The Lost Interviews”- Part 2- Guest: Dennis M. Walsh, “Nobody Walks: Bringing My Brother’s Killers to Justice”

“Walsh’s is a storyteller and the story he’s telling is as compelling as any police procedural with its unraveling of family secrets and lies.”
—Criminal Element

“Every once in a great while, a true crime is written that pulls at the heartstrings, while it also provides a tale of suspense that will be remembered for a good long time. This is that story.”
—Suspense Magazine

“Walsh, a criminal defense attorney for 30 years, tells the blistering true story of the 2003 murder of one of his brothers, Christopher, who was discovered in a trash barrel in a California storage locker. Despite law enforcement’s reluctance to pursue the case since the author’s father and younger brother were in prison on drug charges, Walsh shoulders the burden and delves into the nadir of the criminal underworld, quizzing thieves, skinheads, Nazi bikers, hookers, and porn queens to construct something meaningful from various lies and schemes. Good leads dead-end and seemingly ironclad confessions crumble, but the author’s resourcefulness and determination to catch his brother’s killers keep this sordid tale moving along at a quick clip. Walsh keeps his law practice operating throughout the ordeal, but still finds time to persuade reluctant witnesses to offer their testimony and cooperate with authorities; after four years of sleuthing, the trial finally begins. The hearing is a real corker, chock-full of twists and turns, and written with passion and an eye for drama. Taut and relentless, this chronicle of a former cold case puts one man’s resolve and the American idea of justice to the test.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Pulpy, engrossing account…Walsh captures the arc of his family’s involvement in an act of senseless malice, calling into question the cultural endurance of macho violence within certain subcultures and the difficulty of holding men responsible for horrific acts within the legal system’s overtaxed framework. Gritty, effective, personalized tale of the outlaw lifestyle and its consequences.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Nobody Walks is a triumph, a grimly fascinating true tale of one street-wise criminal defense attorney’s quest for justice in the brutal murder of his brother. Dennis Walsh’s tireless four year odyssey plunged him headlong into an underworld populated by dopers, porn stars and gangsters   and culminated in an explosive courtroom drama and the arrests of hundreds. Walsh’s captivating style engages, inspires and unnerves as he lends new meaning to the term ‘brotherly love.’”
—Kerrie Droban, author of Running with the Devil and A Socialite Scorned and co-author of Prodigal Father, Pagan Son

DENNIS WALSH has been a practicing criminal defense attorney for thirty years. Walsh was drafted in 1972 while he attended CSUN and joined the Navy. Upon returning home he received his BA from CSUN and went on to graduate from the University of Santa Clara School of Law. Walsh lives in California.

BRUCE COLLINS is a former pro wrestling promoter, an author of three published books (one of them with Brett Wagner, the host of The Speed Channel’s PASS TIME and voice of Monster Garage and another book with Ric Drasin, the middle Hulk in the 1970’s Incredible Hulk tv show with Bill Bixby and the creator of the Gold’s Gym logo) and the former book reviewer of Monster Radio, which was nationally syndicated in 84 radio markets. Bruce has hosted The Bruce Collins Show (and its’ genesis known as The Big Finale) since January, 2006. The Bruce Collins Show graduated to AM radio in 2009 and spent two years broadcasting at WSMN 1590 AM in Nashua, New Hampshire and WWZN 1510 AM in Boston, MA. Currently, the program resides online at www.fringeradionetwork.com . Based on the AM radio exposure, he was approached by the History Channel’s Decoded TV (with bestselling author Brad Meltzer) to audition for their program. After learning he would have to interview occultists and numerologists without expressing his own opinions, he turned down the invitation. Bruce is the self-proclaimed Baron of Broadcasting.

Izumi Watanabe--Japanese vocalist Sees Her Own Voice

Blogcritics Reviews How to Quit your Day Job and Live Out Your Dreams

Are you in an unsatisfying job and would like to get out of your current line of work? Do you want to transition from a job that is secure but soulless, from a life that is created by others to one that is created by you which allows you to follow your creative dreams? If you do, this book is for you.

Kenneth Atchity was also in a job he despised. He was a tenured professor. He should have been on top of his game and happy. He had security, and everything he wanted financially. But he was still fundamentally unhappy because he felt drained and didn’t feel as if he was fulfilling his creative purposes in life. How sad? He always wanted to be a story merchant and film producer. Then one day he dared to take the necessary steps to make his dreams come through. And this is how the idea for this book was born.

Kenneth Atchity’s book is for everyone who feels that their creativity has been squelched at their current line of work. How to Quit Your Day Job and Live Your Dreams will show the reader how to create a personal vision and recreate your life so that it fulfilling your vision, face negative peer pressure, identify and control conflicting inner voices, redefine what it means to live successfully for yourselves, steal time to make your dreams come true, and a lot more. The book is full of advice for the person who is still working at a dead end job and wants to take fruitful steps to get out. Kenneth Atchity shows the reader how to do this through consistent planning, a bit of hard work, and perseverance.

The good news is that we can all reclaim our lives, and we don’t have to stay in dead end jobs for the rest of our lives and live unhappy and unfulfilled days. We can be bold and recreate our lives so that they are what we want them to be. So, if you want your life to change for the better, pick Kenneth Atchity’s book today and get ready to transform your life one step at a time.

Let Story Merchant Books turn your script into a novel!

Script Lit Turns Unused Screenplays Into e-Novellas

Looking to transform Hollywood’s pile of unproduced scripts into publishable e-books, James West, a motion-picture industry entrepreneur, has launched Script Lit. The company licenses optioned, but never produced, scripts, to turn them into commercial fiction. At the end of April, Script Lit released its first e-book novella—Mom of the Year by screenwriter Denise Pischinger—and plans to offer three more titles later this year. It’s no secret that Hollywood studios option a lot of scripts that never become movies—scripts that may be quite good but are victimized by bad timing or arbitrary decisions of the studio, West said. West has been making his pitch to Hollywood studios since last fall, asking them to give him access to their scripts and hoping to sell the studios on the potential for finding bestsellers in an otherwise inert mound of content. “There are compelling stories in these scripts. The studios love the idea,” he said, though he acknowledged that some have been slow to act, adding, “there’s a lot of legal stuff to go through.”

Mom of the Year is the story of a 30-something woman who gets into a battle with another mother in her school volunteer group. The book is available for sale at all major e-tailers, and right now, Script Lit is offering a free download of the title. The company is also publishing Ambrose Fountain by Brian Sieve, due out in June, the story of an ordinary guy who comes to believe that a fountain on his property can grant wishes; and The Enders by Rich Farrell, slated for August, about five people in different countries and their reaction to the news that the world is ending.

West said he has been looking to partner with traditional book publishers. His original plan was to get access to the scripts through a studio, pick the best unproduced content, and act as a kind of “producer,” while working with a New York publisher to secure a ghostwriter, edit, and publish the book. West met with “most of the Big Six,” who he said have been “overwhelmingly positive” but also reluctant to act. (Although he said one publisher wanted to get involved but only if the script was also being produced as a movie—of course, if that were the case, West was quick to note, publishing wouldn’t be a problem.) “It will take a visionary publisher to do it this way,” he said.

So West decided to launch Script Lit and publish the books himself as e-book original novellas, with POD paperbacks to come. West said he licenses the rights to each script directly from the writer’s agent or manager and hires a ghostwriter to create a narrative context for the story. He noted that screenwriters aren’t necessarily novelists, so he’s put together a staff with two in-house novelists who have experience writing in a variety of commercial genres. “We keep all the script’s original dialogue in the book—the dialogue is important—and take the setting and tone, and I have a staff of writers enrich the story and turn it into literary and narrative prose.” He emphasized that the original screenwriter is credited as the book’s author.

“We typically offer the original screenwriter up to 50% of royalties,” West said, noting that his terms will likely change once he’s able to get an agreement with a conventional publisher, who may want to offer an advance or split royalties differently. “I always ensure that the original writers get the best deal possible,” he said, adding that Brian Sieve will get “a 50-50 split of all future royalties.”

Zach Tann, literary manager and partner at Magnet Management, which manages the careers of screenwriters, represents Sieve. Tann said, “It’s hard to sell a screenplay to the studios these days if it isn’t a huge franchise. There’s a lot of good material that isn’t known. So here’s a script that can be turned into an e-book and read. It seemed like a good way to get more attention, and there’s not a whole lot to lose.”

“I’m surprised this hasn’t been done before,” Tann added. “So many scripts are never sold, and they may be good. Selling to the studios is about timing, you may have a great script but it may be the wrong time.” He said that Sieve worked closely with West and his staff during the novelization of the script, providing them with notes and feedback. “At the very least a lot more people will get to actually read it.”

West, who is also cofounder of TitleDoctors, a firm that researches and provides marketable titles for films, said he’s offering free downloads of Mom of the Year and the book is getting some attention on Goodreads and Facebook, as well as generating good reader reviews on Amazon. He admitted that it was never his intention to become a publisher, emphasizing that “the goal is still to get the studios and conventional publishers involved in Script Lit.”

“Once these books hit their stride,” he said, “I’d like to go back to the studios and say, ‘See, we did it. Now, open your archives and let us see which scripts are bestsellers waiting to happen.’”

NOBODY WALKS' Dennis Walsh with prosecutor Stephanie Sparagna

Deputy D.A. Stephanie Sparagna at the Biltmore Hotel where the LA County Bar Association named her and her co-counsel, Natalie Adomian, Prosecutors of the Year for their work in convicting a female CHP officer who had murdered her husband.

Raven Reviews Interview!

Interview! Ken Atchity Discusses His Latest Book: The Messiah Matrix

Ok, I loved Dan Brown’s books. How sacrilegious, I know. And I call myself a Christian. To me, his books were nothing more than great fictional thrillers. It sparked a few conversations about “what if…” But, that’s it.

So, when I heard another book exists that rivals Dan Brown’s stories, I could not pass up the chance to meet the mind behind that one. Meet Ken Atchity!

Here are the interview highlights:


What’s the name of your most recent book?  If you had to sum it up in 30 words or less, what would you say?

The Messiah Matrix, an iconoclastic thriller that questions the origins of Christianity when the lead characters converge to uncover a secret the Vatican has protected for over two millennia.

What has inspired you to write this book?

My childhood fascination with the parallels between the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church.

Are you religious?

I’m definitely not religious, though I’m interested in the spiritual core and ritual of all religions. I’d call myself spiritual.

Have your religious views impacted this book (Messiah Matrix)? How?

My view of the dangers and damages of organized religion were a major impetus behind this book, which ends with a vision of how humanity can be spiritual without being fanatically organized.

How much of this book (Messiah Matrix) is fact vs. pure fiction?

That’s for the reader to decide. Anyone interested can request my long list of sources.

How has Dan Brown influenced your writing?

I decided to write this novel DESPITE its being similar to Dan Brown’s books, because I believe its premise is more revolutionary and thought-provoking than the premise of THE DA VINCI CODE, a book I admire.

Did you picture any specific real-life people when you created your characters?

I did have a person in mind for Emily Scelba, the heroine; and a few other characters as well. The most remarkable thing to report is that the book predicts not only a JESUIT pope but an ARGENTINE JESUIT pope. Don’t know what I was channeling at the time!

What was the oddest thing you ever had to research while writing?

Probably the diet of Caesar Augustus…

Who designed the cover on your book? (Who designs the covers on your books?)

A British designer designed the cover, James Reid. It rocks!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change in your latest book?

I’d change the background on how Emily found an ancient Augustan aureus—and I may still do that.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

It can range from a year to several. Messiah Matrix took about two years.

Do you have a day job? Family? How do you balance it all?

My day job is working with writers to develop their stories into books and films.  A family? I’m married to a wonderful woman, and have two great children, and four grandchildren…  How do make time to write? I prioritize it and keep my stopwatch running.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Steve Job’s autobiography.

If you were shipwrecked on an island, what three books would you want with you?

Wow. Great question. Probably Moby Dick, Don Quixote, and the Odyssey.

If you could have any author as a mentor, who would it be and why?

I had a wonderful mentor in John Gardner (On Moral Fiction, Grendel, Nickel Mountain, etc.). If I could have another, it’d be Dan Brown because I love how he thinks.

Has there ever been a movie that you thought was better than the book?

Yes, Prince of Tides is one example, though I loved the book too; and Birdy.

What tips do you have for aspiring writers?  What have you learned along the way?

I’ve learned the only rules are never give up, and go for it! Great things are accomplished only by writers who don’t quit no matter how hard everything becomes.

What’s next for you?  Any current/future writing project?

Always. I’m finishing a book of quotes for writers, then will edit and publish my second book of poetry (the first appeared in 1978), then another book for writers. I’m not planning to write another novel until I find another great story.


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 and 14 books.


First Jesuit Pope predicted in THE MESSIAH MATRIX!

To what lengths would the Vatican go to suppress the secret origins of its power? Current papal politics has made this thriller eerily prophetic! The Messiah Matrix is a myth-shattering novel whose protagonists delve into the secrets of the past—and expose the fundamentalists who hide them still.

A renowned scholar-monsignor is killed in Rome while 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—much like the secrets emerging from the Vatican in today’s news.

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.”



Book Review: Dr Fuddle and the Gold Baton by Dr Warren L Woodruff by ajoobacats


When the dark musician Jedermann and his fierce Seirens of Dis gain control of the legendary Gold Baton, Tyler, his sister Christina, and their friends are drawn into a perilous adventure foretold by an ancient prophecy.

Guided by the mythical Dr. Fuddle, the explorers must leave earth and journey to Orphea. Will the Messengers of Music be able to save the world of the immortal composers from chaos and destruction? For them to have even a chance at victory, they must master the most difficult instruments of all—themselves.


A delightful tale of good versus evil, by a music teacher, where the power of good is conveyed through classical music. This is a lovely book for children from the age of 10, who are advanced readers, the illustrations are lovely but I wish there were more.

It’s difficult conveying a story like this without actual music but Dr Woodruff does it well. For those children who are musically inclined this is a good story which aids and enthuses children learning music. It isn’t the most imaginative story for children around but it ties music and reading together adequately, despite the lack of audio.

A good lesson about finding your voice no matter what disabilities maybe in your way.

Harriet Klausner Gives Dennis Palumbo's Night Terrors Five Stars!

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Police Procedural, May 18, 2013
Night Terrors
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen, May 7 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9781464201318

In Pittsburgh, the FBI quietly asks psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi to help former FBI special agent Lyle Barnes deal with his experiences of hunting serial killers. Barnes was the best because he could get inside the heads of these predators, but now in retirement they get inside his head every time he tries to sleep. Adding to his Night Terrors is a serial killer targeting anyone involved in ending John Jessup's homicidal reign; which includes Barnes who captured the psychopath and by extension Rinaldi may be on the murderer's list.

At the same time, Wes Currim confesses to decapitating businessman Edward Meachem in Wheeling. Wes refuses to show the body unless the shrink who works with the Pittsburgh PD accompanies them. Thus at the request of Chief Block, Daniel arrives in nearby West Virginia as an obviously disturbed Wes takes him and WPD to the severed corpse. Wes' mom Maggie believes her troubled son never killed the victim and pleads with Rinaldi to prove her contention while in Pittsburgh, the Jessup body count rises and Barnes vanishes from federal protective custody.

The third Daniel Rinaldi mystery (see Fever Dream and Mirror Image), is a fabulous police procedural as the protagonist struggles between patient confidentiality and law enforcement needs. Fast-paced throughout, readers will relish this twisting thriller as Wheeling and Pittsburgh keep Dr. Rinaldi and two police departments overworked trying to prevent further homicides.

Guest Post on Music Plus Books

The Messiah Matrix Visit the Messiah Matrix Facebook page for some timely postings about the new pope, Francis, and his attempt to restore spiritual power to the ancient Roman Catholic Church, that in recent decades has shown so many signs of decadence and cynicism. 

My novel explores that ancient institution, tracing its roots to the Roman Empire itself and in particular to Emperor Caesar Augustus who instituted tolerance in Rome once he'd completed his conquest of the world. Why would anyone take the time from their busy day to read this book? It's romantic. It's a thriller. It's contemporary. It pits a doubting young Jesuit priest against a vivacious archaeologist who's found evidence that the origins of Christianity are not what we've been taught. Together they find the truth behind centuries of mystification, unmask corruption in the church, and change the world to a clear understanding of why organized religion stands in the way of the very values it professes to uphold. 

I've been thrilled at readers' reactions to the novel, even when they don't accept its premise because my purpose was to get people thinking about the truths they accept without question. We must choose to make the world more tolerant, recognizing that everyone has the right to worship the divine potential in human nature in the way they choose. Tell me your thoughts! 

The first five to respond to this post will receive a free signed copy of the book if you copy your response to me at drk@storymerchant.com

Sci-Fi's Underground Hit

Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores.

Simon and Schuster has put down six figures for print rights to a post-apocalyptic thriller called "Wool" that it believes could draw the same readers that made "The Hunger Games" trilogy a success. WSJ's Alexandra Alter reports on Lunch Break. Getty Images. 

Hugh Howey's postapocalyptic thriller "Wool" has sold more than half a million copies and generated more than 5,260 Amazon reviews. Mr. Howey has raked in more than a million dollars in royalties and sold the film rights to "Alien" producer Ridley Scott.

And Simon & Schuster hasn't even released the book yet.

In a highly unusual deal, Simon & Schuster acquired print publication rights to "Wool" while allowing Mr. Howey to keep the e-book rights himself. Mr. Howey self-published "Wool" as a serial novel in 2011, and took a rare stand by refusing to sell the digital rights. Last year, he turned down multiple seven-figure offers from publishers before reaching a mid-six-figure, print-only deal with Simon & Schuster. 

Story Merchant Clients Lisa Cerasoli and Dennis Walsh Talk Books on Peter Anthony Holder's Podcast

 Listen to Podcast

The Interrogator's Notebook, by Martin OttWriter and filmmaker, Lisa Cerasoli, is the author of As Nora Jo Fades Away, a non fiction account of caring full time for her grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers.

purchase on Amazon.com

 Dennis Walsh is a criminal defence attorney and the author of Nobody Walks: Bringing My Brother's Killers To Justice, the true story of how he avenged the murder of his youngest brother.

purchase on Amazon.com

Peter Anthony Holder

Welcome to my website! I'm a Montreal based broadcaster and the host of The Stuph File, an eclectic program that's a mix of interesting interviews and odd news. 

Guests I've had the pleasure to talk to in 20 years of hosting a late night radio show include the likes of Star Trek's George Takei; Steve Allen, the first host of The Tonight Show; Burt Ward, Batman's original Robin; Buddy Ebsen; the legendary Carol Channing; astronaut Alan Bean, who walked on the moon; Lindsay Wagner, The Bionic Woman; Cloris Leachman; Karl Malden; Peter Bogdanovich; Gilligan himself, Bob Denver and more.

Congratulations Royce Buckingham on Your 2013-14 Sunshine State Young Readers Award and Sasquatch Book Award Nominations for The Dead Boys!

Sasquatch Book Award Nominee

Titles are selected by Librarians in the State of Washington in order to encourage students to read some of the best new books published each year.


The Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) is a program co-sponsored by the Office of Library Media and the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). This program for students in grades 3-8 is designed to entice students to read high interest, contemporary literature for personal enjoyment.

AEI Client Dennis Palumbo's Night Terrors Reviews on Kirkus


Pittsburgh clinical psychologist Daniel Rinaldi (Fever Dream, 2011, etc.) finds to his sorrow that even serial killers have fans.

Now that Wesley Currim has confessed to killing wealthy Wheeling coal-mine executive Edward Meachem and led Chief Avery Block and Detective Sgt. Harve Randall to the headless corpse, you’d think the case would be closed. But Wes’ mother, Maggie, swears he’s innocent and provides him with a cast-iron alibi he’s determined to repudiate. Do Block and Randall have the right man in custody? Dr. Rinaldi, who went along with them since Wes had refused to talk unless he was called in, can’t say. And he has no time to yield to Maggie’s pleas and break Wes’ confession because he’s been snatched off the street by FBI agent Neal Alcott and plunged into a different nightmare. Even though John Jessup, convicted of killing four prostitutes, has been beaten to death during a riot in an Ohio prison, the pen pal calling himself “Your Biggest Fan” is determined to avenge him by carrying on in his tradition. In short order, the prison guard who killed Jessup, the judge who sentenced him to four life sentences and the Cleveland ADA who prosecuted him are shot. Not surprisingly, Lyle Barnes, the retired FBI profiler who helped nail Jessup, is having night terrors, and Alcott wants Rinaldi to meet with him and calm him down. For his part, Rinaldi wants to be left alone to consummate his stymied romance with Detective Eleanor Lowrey of the Pittsburgh PD. How likely is that when the entire tri-state region is full of serial killers and killers-in-training?

Some thrillers are beach reads. Palumbo’s are strictly for late at night and for readers who have no pressing engagements early the next day.

Crown Publishing will be releasing the biography of Robert Ripley titled “A Curious Man!, authored by Neal Thompson May 7th

“A Curious Man is the rollicking, terrific story of one of America’s greatest men…Ripley brought back to an awed nation the richness of an endlessly exotic world, and Neal Thompson tells the story with a perfectly-pitched sense of what makes such a man, and a nation, tick.” –Peter Heller, New York Times bestselling author of The Dog Stars

“Anyone who wants to understand America needs to read this book… Neal Thompson gives us a vivid portrait of this complex, restless man in all his maniacally conflicted glory.” –Ben Fountain, National Book Award Finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award winning author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

A shy, insecure, bucktoothed boy, Robert Ripley willed himself to become a man of the world: a talented artist, an athlete, a rabid traveler, an unlikely ladies’ man, a heavy drinker, a playboy-millionaire, a shrewd businessman, entertainer, and media pioneer. He was Howard Hughes crossed with PT Barnum; Peter Pan crossed with Marco Polo. A goofy everyman, a bit of a yokel, his obsessive curiosity about the world and it’s oddities earned fame and fortune. Yet, as his housekeeper once said, the greatest “Believe It or Not” of all was Ripley himself.

Raised poor in northern California, LeRoy, as he was known, survived the 1906 earthquake a year after losing his father. Forced to quit high school and to find a job, he started his newspaper career as a sports cartoonist in San Francisco. After moving to New York in 1912, he toiled in relative obscurity until his ‘Believe It or Not’ cartoons, created in 1919, became increasingly popular through the 1920s.

His first book of cartoons and essays, published in 1929, became an instant best-seller and led to his hiring by William Randolph Hearst, who paid him $100,000 a year. By the mid-1930s, he had become one of the highest-paid entertainers of his day, earning $500,000 a year from his cartoons, best-selling books, lectures, films, radio shows, endorsements, and museums. He received more mail than any single person in history (millions of letters a year), and in 1936 was voted the most popular man in America.

By the start of WWII, he had become one of the most eloquently traveled men alive, visiting obscure corners of more than 200 countries. He crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans dozens of times and belonged to the Circumnavigators’ Club and the Explorers’ Club. He collected oddities from around the world–as well as beautiful women–at his eccentric mansion on a private island off Mamaroneck, New York (where he moved after living for fifteen years at  the New York Athletic Club in midtown Manhattan).

He died after suffering a heart attack in 1949 while filming the 13th episode of his TV show, which featured a story about the creation of the funeral song, Taps.

Believe it!

Charles M. Schulz’s first-ever published cartoon appeared in Ripley’s ‘Believe It or Not’

As a radio pioneer, Ripley broadcast shows from the Grand Canyon, from underwater, from overseas, from inside caves and from the decks of ships.

A talented athlete, he once tried out for the New York Giants and in 1926 became New York City’s handball champion.

Ripley’s popularity foreshadowed such pop-culture phenomena as YouTube, reality TV, Fear Factor, Jerry Springer, Oprah, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and Jackass
From the Epilogue:

The revelations that made Ripley gasp – burning ghats in India, shrunken heads in Ecuador, armless/legless girl wonders – seem tame compared to the extremes of shows like Jackass and the exploits of the masses on YouTube.

And yet, the phrase Ripley coined remains part of the English lexicon nearly a century later. In 2010, “believe it or not” appeared 138 times in The New York Times, and a Google search landed more than 5 million “believe it or not” hits. His spirit lives on in shows like MythBusters and River Monsters. Also thriving are the aspirations Ripley embodied – to show people something they didn’t know, to entertain and educate and titillate, to question and challenge the truth – as are the driving passions of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and the base appreciation of freakishness, oddities, and pranks of nature.

The man who considered himself a rube and a farm boy, who indulged in a lifestyle as risky as any character in his cartoons, who taught readers to gape with respect at the weirdness of man and nature, who contributed to the adoption of America’s national anthem and the creation of the memorial at Pearl Harbor and so much more… he may have been the most unbelievable oddity of all.

 ~~ Read a brief EXCERPT [PDF]. For the password, visit neal’s new Facebook page. ~~

“Neal Thompson constructs an elegant argument: the world Ripley created is the world in which we now live.” –David Shields, New York Times bestselling author of The Thing About Life Is that One Day You’ll Be Dead