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

Story Merchant Books June Amazon eBook Deals

FREE  June 1 - June 5

The Fat Death by Michael Avallone (Ed Noon Mystery)

Ed Noon finds that high fashion and murder mixed with low-down sex can be murder a la mod.

“Beware the Fat Death” reads the thousands of leaflets fluttering down from the sky over Manhattan. A thin man, giant freak, who calls himself the Slim Savior, has begun a huge campaign because he has some idea about making America diet conscious, but nothing that innocent is the byplay that ensues from his doctrine.


FREE June 5 - June 9

Fossil River by Jock Miller

This pedal-to-the-metal speculative thriller revolves around the discovery of a highly territorial colony of predatory dinosaurs in Alaska that has survived undetected for millions of years. ~ Kirkus Review


 FREE June 6 -June 10

Homer's Iliad: The Shield of Memory
by Kenneth Atchity​

This book presents a refreshingly original interpretation of Homer's Iliad, inviting today's reader to rediscover the beauty, intelligence, and power of Western civilization's greatest epic poem.

"I know of no other book as good."--John Gardner


FREE June 8 - June 12!

Tony Molina's South Texas Drag

Take a trip through the South Texas terrain through the eyes of drug runner.

Toño Garcia. His distinctive South Texas slang adds a unique charm to this dark story, but the appeal and originality doesn’t stop there. This guy knows more about style than Carrie Bradshaw, which adds massive flavor and a whole new twist to a tale about “crime as a way of life” in South Texas.


FREE June 15 – June 19
 Yes, Mr. DeMille by Phil A. Koury

At the right hand of a Hollywood God.

Phil Koury was Cecil B. DeMille's attorney, and stood close as DeMille made some of the most successful movies of his time. This is a first-hand account of the ups and downs of one of our most controversial Hollywood legends. Not to be missed if you love learning about the mechanics and foibles of the film business.

FREE June 22 - June 26
Project Nephili by T.L. Farmer

Combines elements of the creation mythologies of ancient cultures into a thriller that takes you from a secret hidden in the dust of a late Stone Age dig to the slave trade of West Africa, to current day Georgia.

FREE June 29 - July 2

Milton E. Lyles' The Cruelest Lie

The story centers around the deaths of three young men and the small town corruption and avarice that threatens to destroy an innocent boy setting in motion a deadly struggle between integrity and iniquity, truth and deceit.



Memorial Day: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)

Massachusetts supplied almost 150,000 troops to the Union Army during the Civil War. 

One of the state’s most honored regiments, the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, fought in nearly every major campaign, including Ball’s Bluff in 1861, Antietam and Fredericksburg in 1862, Gettysburg in 1863, and the Battle of the Wilderness campaign in 1864.

The regiment’s valor came at great cost: of the two thousand active Union regiments, the 20th Massachusetts ranked fifth in casualties. While still in college, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., son of the prominent writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, joined the 20th Massachusetts and served for three years before injuries forced him to leave the army.

In a stirring Memorial Day address to fellow veterans in 1884, Holmes attributed great value to his experience in the Civil War. This speech contains one of Holmes’ most enduring lines: 

“Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.”

When Holmes was laid to rest in 1935 in Arlington National Cemetery, infantrymen raised their rifles and fired three volleys, one for each of the battles in which Holmes was wounded.

Read more

"Selling Your Story to Hollywood: A Conversation with a Movie Producer" Audio Replay

“Selling Your Story to Hollywood: A Conversation with a Movie Producer” Audio Replay 

I've had such a great response to my interview with Build Book Buzz's Sandra Beckwith on how to sell your story to Hollywood teleseminar that I'm sharing the replay link for those of you who missed it or want to revisit it.
Here’s the audio recording for “Selling Your Story to Hollywood: A Conversation with a Movie Producer". 


  Click here for the audio REPLAY to Listen to Your Recording

Prefer to Download the Audio? Click Here to Download Your Recording
(If the recording opens in a new tab in your browser instead of downloading, simply right-click the link above and choose “Save File As” or “Save Target As” and choose your preferred save location.)

We hope you enjoy the recorded conversation about the book-to-movie process. Feel free to share this link with authors who want to know more about how to sell their stories to Hollywood.

Talk about a high-concept ... Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o are set to star in a buddy movie for director Ava DuVernay after a tweet of the two went viral.

The Pitch: “Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scams.”

The Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-nominated actor were pictured together at a Miu Miu fashion show in 2014, which was then used as part of a meme movie pitch on Twitter in April.

Both stars then expressed interest in the idea via Twitter, followed by Selma director DeVernay and Insecure writer Issa Rae.

Nyong’o acknowledged the tweet about the potential film, writing, “I’m down if you are @rihanna.” Rihanna responded, “I'm in Pit’z.” After that, it was suggested that Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) and “Insecure” creator/star Issa Rae get involved. Both showed interest.

Now, the Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o buddy film could soon become a reality. Netflix reportedly bought the rights to the movie during a bidding war at Cannes.

Women in Hollywood The more you know ...

Sometimes when you’re having a conversation — let’s say about how women are treated in Hollywood — it can be hard to come up with anything but generalizations. Even though it’s completely accurate to say, “Women TV characters are usually white,” or, “Female directors aren’t getting the same opportunities as men,” sometimes you need a number to really drive your point home.

Below is a Women and Hollywood-created infographic that provides the need-to-know facts about women in the entertainment industry in 2017. After compiling data from academics and researchers, Women in Hollywood.com put together an on-the-go reference about women onscreen and off, from the big screen to television. We hope it’s helpful.

Guest Post: Reading is bad for your eyes but... by Jerry Amernic

When Jean Chretien was Prime Minister of Canada he once said something about the country’s founding in 1864, but Canada became a country in 1867. Every Canadian knows that. Right? Well, apparently not. By the same token U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t exactly up on American history.

His interview the other day with The Washington Post revealed that he doesn’t know why the Civil War took place and that Andrew Jackson was “really angry” about it. This is quite a stretch when you consider that Jackson died in 1845 and the Civil War began in 1861.

One week earlier Trump was interviewed by Reuters. In that one, he wondered why the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting all these years.

“There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever,” he said.


Isn’t it important for world leaders to know a thing or two about history? One would think it should be a prerequisite for office. How can a world leader make informed decisions if he or she doesn’t know anything about the past?

Welcome to the brave new world of the 21st century. It’s a world where we have more information at our fingertips than ever before and people seem to know less than ever. Why? Here are a few reasons.

1.    The education system is sadly lacking (I’m being generous when I say this).

2.    There is so much choice out there, in terms of what information we want and how we get it, that many take the easy route. Put another way, in the old days you went to the library, but now you go to Wikipedia.

3.    Extension of point no. 2 – There is so much choice and so little time that people, by and large, no longer read anything of substance.

A 1968 film called Charly with Cliff Robertson was about a man who is intellectually slow and who undergoes a medical procedure that makes him a genius. He is asked what was raising the standard of living (this was 1968) and he said: “A TV in every room.” Then he is asked about the current state of education and he said: “A TV in every room.”

Which is kind of where we are today, only worse. For the record, here are a few items from my bookshelf that I recommend to young people and current world leaders.

•    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
•    Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
•    Roots by Alex Haley
•    The Source by James A. Michener (a novel)
•    Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (another novel).

It’s only a beginning. But it’s something.

Jerry Amernic is a Canadian writer of fiction and non-fiction books. He is the author of the  Holocaust-related novel 'The Last Witness' and the biblical-historical thriller 'QUMRAN'

THE MUSIC MAN Turning children on to classical music

 The Dr. Fuddle Music Scholarship has been officially established! This is the first step in moving forward with the goal of establishing tuition-free conservatories of music worldwide and The Dr. Fuddle Foundation for the Arts.

Dr. Warren Woodruff aka Dr. Fuddle shares his joy of classical music with children through scholarships and books.

Pianist, musicologist and author Dr. Warren Woodruff of Buckhead is a man on a mission: to instill a new generation with a love of classical music. A teacher for the last 30 years, he spreads his message wherever he goes and volunteers to help students with extraordinary talent.

In 2016, Woodruff endowed The Dr. Fuddle Music Scholarship to the Atlanta Music Club. The award was named after the hero of his children’s novels. Woodruff was instrumental in raising funds to develop a music therapy program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), as well as helping the hospital’s Tower of Talent event raise more than $1 million.

“I’ve seen firsthand how transformative and healing classical music can be,” Woodruff says. “It gives children joy and carries them through tough times. The power of music is the most untapped resource on the planet.”

The Magic Piano, a play written by Woodruff, debuted in Atlanta in 1999 and was so well received that he expanded it into a fantasy novel and screenplay titled Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton. A sequel to the book, a feature film and toys will debut this year.

“In the story, children go to a magical land where the great composers live and learn how to solve real world problems through music and nonviolence,” Woodruff says. 

purchase on Amazon.com

Read more

For more information, visit drfuddle.com.

BY: Mickey Goodman
Photo: Tim Wilkerson Photography

Great News for Indie Producers! Amazon Studios is bringing three award-winning indie production companies into the fold.

The company has signed exclusive first-look deals with Bona Fide Productions, Killer Films and Le Grisbi Productions, Variety has learned. The pacts put the streaming giant in business with the makers of such film classics as “Birdman” and “Far From Heaven.”  They come just two weeks before the Cannes Film Festival where Amazon will be on hand to premiere Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck,” which Killer Films produced, and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here.”

Bona Fide Productions is backed by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. The company is working with Amazon on Marc Webb’s “The Only Living Boy in New York,” a drama with Jeff Bridges, Callum Turner and Kate Beckinsale. Its credits include “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Nebraska.”

Killer Films is the label of veteran producers Christine Vachon (pictured) and Pamela Koffler. In addition to “Wonderstruck,” which stars Julianne Moore, the company has produced “Still Alice,” “Carol,” and “Wiener-Dog” (an Amazon acquisition out of 2016’s Sundance Film Festival). The company also produced “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” a biography series about Zelda Fitzgerald, for Amazon’s original series arm.

Bona Fide Productions will have a first look deal and Killer Films will have an exclusive first-look deal in both film and television for two years.

Le Grisbi Productions is the shingle of John Lesher. Its credits include “Fury,” “Black Mass,” and “Birdman.” Upcoming releases include Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles,” a Western with Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike, and “White Boy Rick,” a crime drama with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The company will have an exclusive first-look deal for any “indie-sized” films it is making. The pact runs for two years.

Amazon has only been releasing movies theatrically for a little over a year, but it’s already made a splash, picking up three Oscars this year for “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman,” as well as releasing movies from the likes of Woody Allen and Spike Lee. The deals are a sign that Amazon is increasingly interested in getting involved in films from their inception as opposed to simply acquiring completed films on the festival circuit. It’s also a signal of the company’s big ambitions. Like major studios, which routinely hand out production deals, it wants to forge enduring business relationships with top talent.

“Bona Fide Productions, Killer Films and Le Grisbi Productions each have a long history of making critically acclaimed and award-winning films with accomplished filmmakers,” said Roy Price, head of Amazon Studios in a statement. “We’re proud to be working with each of them and excited about our future creative collaborations.”

Read more

Story Merchant Books May Amazon eBook Deals!

FREE May 16 - 20!  

American Pathfinder (Pathfinders Series Book 1) by Frank Mitchell

In April of 1798, Napoleon appoints Lieutenant Charles MacDonald, a nineteen-year-old graduate geographical engineer, to be the pathfinder for his personal Brigade of Guides during the invasion of Egypt.


FREE May 18 - 22!

Karling Abbeygate​'s Debut Horror Novel The Fly King

Deft of wit and wicked as hell, Karling Abbeygate's The Fly King is a seductive and sinister debut.
--Richard Christian Matheson

Rachel lives a mundane life in Chicago. She doesn't know she has a murderous brother living in the slums of East London who is coming for her. She doesn't know about the ancient curse of the Fly King or the unthinkable events about to take place. What she does know is that she's being inexplicably drawn clear across country to a desolate little town in the wooded mountains of Washington and that her boyfriend Gavin is not happy about it.


FREE May 23 - 27!

Assassins Don't Die In Bed by Michael Avallone, An Ed Noon Mystery

Ed Noon is the detective who reports directly to the President. He's got a dead man's job - play body shield to the VIP who mustn't know he's marked for murder!


Second Chances by Jeffrey Schiller

FREE May 25 - 29!
Set against the backdrop of a sport awash in billion dollar television contracts, multi-million dollar salaries for coaches and professional players, and kickbacks to agents and boosters, Second Chances explores the consequences of a corrupt and secretive culture where everyone is susceptible to the lure of fame and fortune…and also to the threat that their secrets and machinations will be revealed.


FREE May 29 - June 2 

Dragon Heart by Linda A. Malcor​

There is a scrap of a boy who dreams of riding a dragon, but he feels his dreams are far away, especially in the land of Drumnonia where there are dragons, riders, AND demons, gods, and elves. In the end, he becomes a dragon rider, and not just an ordinary rider either: he is the Dragonheart!


FREE TELESEMINAR May 18th!! “Selling Your Story to Hollywood: A Conversation with a Movie Producer”

THURSDAY, MAY 18 at 7pm ET, 6pm CT, 5pm MT and 4pm PT 

Register below. You'll receive a confirmation e-mail with the information you need to participate.

“Selling Your Story to Hollywood: A Conversation with a Movie Producer”
Hollywood producer Ken Atchity will talk with Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz about the book-to-screen process...
  • What's involved?
  • How can you increase the odds that you'll sell your story to Hollywood?
  • What is Hollywood buying from authors and why?
  • Plus much more!


Three Important Details
  • It will last no more than an hour
  • We'll record it and send the replay link to everyone who registers
  • You'll be able to ask questions

About Your Host, Sandra Beckwith
Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested. 

Dennis Palumbo on Between the Lines

Barry Kibrick talks with Dennis Palumbo, renowned psycologist and oscar nominated screen writer, about his new book, . Now, with his new book, "Phantom Limb", and delve deep into the psychology of life through his writing. 

Curious Hart Reviews Kenneth Atchity's The Messiah Matrix

purchase on Amazon.com
view trailer

The Messiah Matrix is similar in genre and plot to The Da Vinci Code.

The main themes involve question~answer and problem~solution on a local level because they are resolved within the context of the story. However, they do touch on global issues.

The characters are interesting and only slightly clichéd. The best thing about the protagonists is that they display a sense of humor.

The language varies between fresh and formulaic, but that is probably due to the technical information necessary to understand the plot and the conflict.

The narrative is brisk and engaging, and there is no graphic or gratuitous sex, violence, or profanity. There are no noticeable or distracting grammatical or typographical errors.

The conflict of the story is based on a social compact that demands community participation and obedience from its members, those communities being the Roman Catholic Church and the Society of the Jesuits. Both are bound by rules and secrets that set them in opposition to one another.

Overall, I found Messiah Matrix a satisfying read and recommend it to fans of The Da Vince Code.

One thing I noticed in the unfavorable reviews was that some of the reviewers were offended by the subject matter; they responded to it as if the book were non-fiction. They disagreed with its basic premise; one reviewer, in his ire, revealed the whole plot of the book. (I don’t think the author appreciated that.)

H.L. Mencken wrote: “I believe that an artist, fashioning his imaginary worlds out of his own agony and ecstasy, is a benefactor to all of us, but the worst error we can commit is to mistake his imaginary worlds for the real one.” What I Believe

Despite Mr. Atchity’s careful documentation of facts and evidence, I did not mistake Messiah Matrix  for the real world, and that is most likely why I enjoyed reading it.

Story Merchant Books May Amazon eBook Deals

Us, a Duography by Benedict Freedman 

FREE May 4 - 8!

The story of how Benedict and Nancy Freedman came to write the American classic MRS. MIKE, still in print in the original edition after sixty-four years, an international bestseller, major motion picture starring Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes, and excerpted in high school classes all over the country.


Platinum Blackmail by Jay Atleson 

FREE May 11 - 15!

A story of high-tech power, sex, Wicca, murder, and love that displays the intimate psychological thought processes of a somewhat self-consumed man, forced to mature and realize one of life’s important lessons: be careful what you wish for since nothing is as it seems.


Karling Abbeygate​'s Debut Horror Novel The Fly King 

FREE May 18 - 22!
Deft of wit and wicked as hell, Karling Abbeygate's The Fly King is a seductive and sinister debut.
--Richard Christian Matheson

Rachel lives a mundane life in Chicago. She doesn't know she has a murderous brother living in the slums of East London who is coming for her. She doesn't know about the ancient curse of the Fly King or the unthinkable events about to take place. What she does know is that she's being inexplicably drawn clear across country to a desolate little town in the wooded mountains of Washington and that her boyfriend Gavin is not happy about it.


Second Chances by Jeffrey Schiller 

FREE May 25 - 29!

Set against the backdrop of a sport awash in billion dollar television contracts, multi-million dollar salaries for coaches and professional players, and kickbacks to agents and boosters, Second Chances explores the consequences of a corrupt and secretive culture where everyone is susceptible to the lure of fame and fortune…and also to the threat that their secrets and machinations will be revealed.


Why authors shouldn’t obsess over one-star reviews

one-star reviews

Authors, prepare yourself for the inevitable one-star review. In the publishing industry, one-star reviews are practically a rite of passage.

And no one is immune. Whether you’ve got 10 best-sellers to your credit or it’s your first book, you can expect at least a single one-star review.

There are the one-star Amazon reviews that make you roll your eyes.

“If possible, I’d give this pile of garbage zero stars.”

“Not really of much use for me. Seems like just a lot of useless information to fill up a book.”

“The best part of this book is the cover photo.”

Then there are the one-star Amazon reviews that have a little more substance.

“If you know nothing at all and are not good at Googling this might be a good choice.”

“I really didn’t like this book. I don’t understand why it’s so highly rated. I found the characters to be either overly dramatic, willfully ignorant, or utterly apathetic. They were just too extreme.”

“I was expecting a great deal of sociological analysis that relate to the author’s personal experiences but instead got a 272 rambling, inconsistent, humble brag of a memoir sprinkled with a few facts and statistics for good measure.”
What’s the difference between the two?

You can’t learn anything from the bad reviews that seem nonsensical or just plain mean.

But if one-star reviewers consistently comment that they were disappointed because your book didn’t include information they expected — and each bad review refers to the same missing information — you should update the description to forewarn readers: “This book is not about ‘X.’ ” (And perhaps add that missing information to a revised edition.)

Or, if reviewers repeatedly comment that the book is poorly written, is so riddled with typos that they couldn’t finish reading it, or that the dialogue was stilted, it’s time to take note.

Sometimes the feedback is useless, sometimes it’s helpful, right? The challenge is to be objective enough to see it for what it is.
3 reasons to embrace one-star reviews

But even useless or mean-spirited one-star reviews serve a purpose. Here are three reasons to embrace the lowly one-star review:

1. Readers aren’t stupid.

When you see a one-star review that says, “I bought this as a gift but it arrived too late,” what’s your reaction?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you probably don’t think any less of the book or its author. Perhaps you think less of the reviewer for reviewing the delivery schedule, not the book’s contents.

Readers can see past silliness as easily as authors can.

2. They make the four- and five-star reviews believable.

Be honest: When you see a book with 60 reviews and they’re all five stars, does a quiet little voice in your head say, “Really? Not even one four-star comment? Or a couple of threes?”

That’s because you’re smart enough to know that this is a subjective business. You might hate what I love, and vice versa. So it seems kind of odd when everybody agrees that it’s a great book.

A 4.6, review average, especially when there are lots of reviews, is more credible than 5.0. (Because, as noted in point 1, readers aren’t stupid.)

3. They can provide feedback that helps you improve the book or its description.

As noted already, if you get the same negative feedback from several people, pay attention. Consider taking action on it.

For example, if you’re charging $14.99 for a 90-page paperback and you’ve got a slew of one-star reviews saying the book isn’t worth $14.99, it’s time to evaluate price versus perceived value.

Look for patterns in those negative reviews to see what you can learn from them. Sometimes, it’s nothing. But sometimes it’s something — even a big something. You can use that feedback to your advantage.