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

Steve Alten Teases Seventh ‘Meg’ Franchise Novel, ‘Meg: Purgatory’!

Ahead of the release of The Meg in August, author Steve Alten is soon unleashing the sixth book in his mega shark series that inspired the Jon Turteltaub-directed film. It’s titled Meg: Generations, and pre-orders for that novel are ending today, May 31 at midnight; Generations is being sold exclusively through Alten’s website.

Pre-ordered books will be shipped in June, along with the eBook launch.

But Meg: Generations won’t be the final chapter in the saga, as previously suggested. Alten has revealed over on Facebook that a seventh book is rumbling around in his head!

“As I worked on [Generations], my imagination sparked an amazing alternative ending that will lead to a 7th novel called MEG: PURGATORY,” Alten announced.

In the meantime, Meg: Generations “picks up after MEG: Nightstalkers with David Taylor in the Salish sea attempting to locate and rescue any surviving Megalodon pups before a local fisherman slaughters them. Meanwhile, Jonas is coerced into joining an expedition into the Panthalassa sea in search of a prehistoric predatory species possessing liver enzymes that can cure cancer.”

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The Meg TV Movie Trailer... Your Next Guilty Pleasure!

 After a deep-sea submersible is attacked by a massive shark, expert diver Jason Taylor teams up with an oceanographer and his daughter to rescue the crew trapped at the bottom of a Pacific trench. Taylor faces off against the perils of the ocean and the prehistoric 75-foot-long Megalodon, which was believed long-extinct. In a twist of fate, Taylor encountered the shark once before and must face his fears to stop the terrifying creature. "The Meg," rated PG-13 is in theaters August 10, 2018.

6 indie bookstores you’ll love, all thriving in Pittsburgh

Every independent bookshop, like a good novel, has its own story to tell.

As we explored six of Pittsburgh’s best, we set out to solve a mystery: How have these unique businesses, some nearly a century old and others much newer, escaped the fate of chain stores such as Waldenbooks and Borders?

A few years ago, independent bookstores nationwide were in peril. But instead of becoming anachronistic outposts of literacy, independent bookshops are now thriving.

According to the American Booksellers Association, approximately 570 independent bookstores have opened in the U.S. since 2009, bringing the total number of shops to a little over 2,200.

Author Dennis Palumbo visits Oakmont. Image courtesy of Mystery Lovers Bookshop.

Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Oakmont Opened: 1990

When Natalie Sacco and her husband Trevor Thomas bought Mystery Lovers Bookshop three years ago, they knew there was a tradition to uphold. The cozy shop in Oakmont’s business district has been the pulse of Western Pennsylvania’s mystery community for 28 years. Any attempts to deviate from the mystery genre would not only devastate devoted readers, but also be economically foolish.

 “Mystery Lovers has been able to weather all those storms because of that niche,” Sacco says. “The store has always held on to this very core customer base. You have these mystery fans who want to talk to people. They want to talk about mysteries and get recommendations.” Since it opened in 1990, Mystery Lovers has known how to pick winners: They’ve hosted numerous unknown writers who went on to huge careers, including Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Lisa Scottoline, Craig Johnson, and Ian Rankin.

It’s a great place to meet authors one-on-one. At the ongoing event series, Coffee & Crime, you won’t find “an author standing up there lecturing from a podium,” Sacco says. “They’re sitting down, at eye level with the audience,” as people drink coffee and dive deep into conversation about sleuths and villains.

Sacco credits Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman, who owned Mystery Lovers from its opening until 2012, for creating a strong foundation and a loyal customer base. “They kept it going for 22 years,” Sacco says. “They continue to support us and be good advocates in the community. We’ve gotten a lot of goodwill from authors who know them and want to come to the store because they knew Richard and Mary Alice.”

“I think people want conversation, they want a human connection,” says Susan Hans O’Connor, owner of Sewickley’s Penguin Bookshop. “They want to talk about ideas; they want to talk about books they’ve already read or that they haven’t read that they should read.”

Stephanie Flom, executive director of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, agrees that conversation and that the sharing of ideas are key.

“Independent bookstores are essential to the health of our community,” Flom says. “We say that the mission of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures is to create community, stimulate public discourse and inspire creativity and a passion for the literary arts. Isn’t that what happens in indie bookstores every day?”

Ready to go exploring? Here’s a guide to some of Pittsburgh’s coolest literary hangouts.   Read more!

Nancy Nigrosh: An agent's perspective on diversity in Hollywood

Female directors are finding more opportunity in Hollywood, including on TV's "Jessica Jones." Zetna Fuentes, left, Mairzee Almas, Millicent Shelton, Liz Friedlander (seated), Rosemary Rodriguez, Jet Wilkinson. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Regarding "Things Are Getting Better for Women Behind the Camera in TV" [March 11]: Kudos to the current crop of prominent showrunners on their commitment "to break old habits" of gender-based bias by influencing their TV studio employers to hire more diverse directors. However, given my 23 years as a literary and talent agent, I was struck by the reference to industry gatekeepers as "typically agents with a tried-and-true Rolodex." Hardly. In my experience, agents have always pushed back on the institutionalized mind-set to exclude women and minority clients.

Without the agent perspective on how hard won the recently open climate truly is, the story is incomplete.

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Steve Alten's MEG Comics!

With a major motion picture coming out this Summer!  The best way to prepare yourself, is to make sure you pickup your copies of Steve Alten's The "MEG" comics.

The comics are currently available for order via comic book stores (www.comicshoplocator.com).

Issue #1 Rough Layouts


Feathered Quill Reviews Larry D. Thompson's White Witch

purchase on Amazon.com

Every country has their own legends they pass down through generations, and the original story that starts each legend probably has some truth to it, but over the years the stories change slightly. The country of Jamaica was no exception, and one of their most well known legends was that of the White Witch. The legend says that she was a ruthless sugar plantation owner who lived over 300 years ago.  This White Witch instilled fear in the slaves she owned through cruelty and dark magic. The story goes that she was a priestess who could wield dark magic, and possessed a snake dagger with ruby eyes that she used to kill slaves who disobeyed.  Finally, a brave slave decided it was time to rid the world of this terrible priestess, and he killed her. Unfortunately, he lost his life in the struggle as well, but gave specific instructions to four other slaves on how to bury her body so that her soul would never return from the grave. However, these men were spooked by the recent events and did not follow his instructions, and legend has it because of that the White Witch has been free to haunt the island ever since.

Meanwhile, the slaves began to create a community in the rainforest, calling themselves Maroons. Over the years they fought off the Spaniards and then later fought against the British. Using guerrilla warfare tactics, the Maroons were successful in their efforts and the British began to realize that fighting the Maroons in the jungle was a losing battle for them, and they were not truly interested in the rainforest anyway. A treaty was struck between the Maroons and the British saying that the Maroons owned the land, and they would have control of it for as long as they wish. Now, 300 years later a mining corporation is threatening to build a mine in the middle of this Maroon country, and it may be time to fight for their land once again.

When Will Taylor came to Jamaica he had no idea about the stories surrounding the White Witch legend - he was there to do his job and that was it. He was hired as head security for a large mining company call Global American Metals, and it was his job to make sure all employees of this company stayed safe. With the background of a Navy Seal, he was ideally suited for this job and did it well. However, when he arrived on the island he could not shake the feeling that this job would be much more difficult than originally thought.

His intuition turned out to be right as within a couple days of being there a Global employee was found dead, and it appeared to be no accident, it was murder. Whisperings that the White Witch has returned spread through the island, but Will did not believe in this superstitious talk. He knows there is a living, breathing human who is behind the murder and he plans to discover the truth. As he begins to look for clues, he realizes he is a little out of his element.  Soon another employee is found dead, but still there are no leads on the murderer. Before it is over Will gets some much needed help from a local Maroon and comes face to face with the dagger of the White Witch.

This book put together such a wonderfully entertaining array of characters that I found myself loving every page.  It was more than just a murder mystery - it also had action, superstition, and romance that were all beautifully combined to make a great read.  Author Larry D. Thompson did a wonderful job of bringing the emotions of each character to the forefront, and I felt as if I was right there beside them throughout this story.

Quill says: White Witch combines all of the best things I love about reading!

To learn more about White Witch, please visit the author's website at www.larrydthompson.com

Warner Bros. has released new hi-res stills from The Meg, teasing the terrifying giant shark.

It may seem like the Megalodon might just be too much for the film’s protagonist team to take on. But with Jason Statham playing the lead, fans are looking forward to seeing The Transporter actor battle the gigantic apex predator.
In Empire’s recent issue, Statham shared his excitement in being part of The Meg movie. Moreover, he also seems to be confident about the movie’s ability to pull in the audience.

I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a movie about the biggest shark that’s ever existed? And I get to be in it? This is as good as it gets,” said Statham. The stills below were first shared by Empire magazine.

The Meg Water Ride!

This prehistoric beast sends thrill seekers into a near-vertical, zero gravity experience! Hold on tight as your raft surges up the wall, hangs weightless then drops suddenly swinging into a narrow exit. This attraction will be the largest in the park and will definitely live up to its nickname as “The Meg”.

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The Meg – Exclusive Image From Jason Statham’s Giant Shark Movie

When Bruce first swam into Amity Island for a small bite to eat, it took Chief Brody and co. several days to track the toothy bastard down. What they could have done with is a precision shark-fighting tool: Jason Statham.

Thankfully the Stath is on board to battle another aquatic apex predator for this year’s popcorniest popcorn film. Cinema’s premiere brawny action star is going face-to-face with a gigantic Megalodon (that’s a huge prehistoric shark to you and me) in The Meg — and it could prove the summer’s most exciting showdown. “I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a movie about the biggest shark that’s ever existed? And I get to be in it? This is as good as it gets,” Statham told Empire.

We’ve got a brand new shot of the titular 'don, as seen in the new Summer Movie Blowout issue of Empire which hits shelves later this week.

REVIEW: Dog Training the American Male by Steve Alten

purchase on Amazon.com

Dog Training the American Male is a humorous fictional tale about a Doctor. Her profession as a counselor is going well but, her own personal life is not. Once Jacob Cope, another dashing character comes into play, things change. The two have to blend their families together passing through all the fluffy parts of the initial stage, move in together and make things work with the additional new dog.

The plot and storyline seemed very simple. There wasn’t anything novel about it. What made it enjoyable to read was the way it was told and the writing skills Steve Alten demonstrated in his book. The New York Times best-selling author did not shy away from making you laugh and ponder on certain aspects of the story.

The content was suitable for a more mature audience and the humor suited the situation built from the storyline. I particularly enjoyed Jacob’s personality and his behavior before and after meeting the protagonist.

The big sloppy German Shepherd was a nice addition bringing all of the elements of the story together. The love of an animal was a beautiful and insightful way to validate how animals do, in fact, influence us and affect us.

I recommend this book to anyone seeking a good fun read. There is nothing more delightful than reading a book like this, on a day when you really don’t feel like doing anything.

Written by Jeyran Main

A Meeting of Holy Men... From Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann.

I was Richard Ellmann’s assistant at Yale. I actually remember reading this years after, and I adore Oscar Wilde. He it is who said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth learning can be taught.” I put that on the top of every syllabus I created in my 17 years of teaching. 

When young Oscar Wilde, the controversial Irish poet, playwright and novelist, visited Philadelphia in 1882 to lecture, he made a special point of visiting the much older poet Walt Whitman at his simple residence in nearby Camden, New Jersey. It was on this American lecture tour that Wilde first gained a wide degree of fame:

"Wilde's next lecture was scheduled for the Horticultural Hall in Phila­delphia on 17 January. But he had another errand to carry out first. When he arrived at the Aldine Hotel in that city on the 16th, he was asked by a new batch of reporters which American poet he most admired. He replied without hesitation, 'I think that Walt Whitman and Emerson have given the world more than anyone else.' Longfellow, admirable as he was, was too close to European sources to have much effect in Europe. Wilde actually valued Poe, 'this marvellous lord of rhythmic expression,' above the others, but Poe was dead. 'I do so hope to meet Mr Whitman,' Wilde confided. 'Perhaps he is not widely read in England, but England never appreciates a poet until he is dead. There is something so Greek and sane about his poetry, it is so universal, so comprehensive. It has all the pantheism of Goethe and Schiller.' Two of his friends, J. M. Stoddart and George W. Childs, both publishers, were planning parties in Philadelphia for Wilde, and both invited Whitman to come from Camden, New Jersey, and attend them. Whitman declined both invitations, but asked Mrs Childs to give Wilde 'my hearty salutations and American welcome.' On 18 January, how­ever, perhaps after reading Wilde's encomium in the press, he sent Stoddart a card, 'Walt Whitman will be in from 2 till 3 1/2 this afternoon, and will be most happy to see Mr. Wilde and Mr. Stoddart.' ...

"They drove companionably (across the Delaware River) to Camden (Wilde Londonized it later to Camden Town). At this time Whitman was living with his brother and sister-in-law.  ... Wilde initiated the conversation by saying, 'I come as a poet to call upon a poet.' Whitman replied, 'Go ahead.' Wilde went on, 'I have come to you as one with whom I have been acquainted almost from the cradle.' He explained that his mother had purchased a copy of Leaves of Grass when it was published; presumably this was in 1868 (Wilde put it two years earlier), when William Michael Rossetti edited a selection of Whitman's poems. Lady Wilde read out the poems to her son, and later, when Wilde had gone up to Oxford, he and his friends carried Leaves of Grass to read on their walks....

"[After they drank a bottle of home made elderberry wine], Whitman proposed that they go to his den, where they could be on what he called 'thee and thou terms.' ...

"After two hours of talk Whitman said, 'Oscar, you must be thirsty. I'll make you some punch.' 'Yes, I am thirsty.' Whitman made him a 'big glass of milk punch,' Wilde 'tossed it off and away he went,' as Whitman recalled afterwards. But as he departed the old poet called out after him, 'Goodbye, Oscar, God bless you.' On the ride back to Philadelphia with Stoddart, who had played silent partner in these eager confabulations, Wilde unwontedly kept still, full of emotion at what he called 'the grand old man.' Stoddart, to lighten his mood, remarked that the elderberry wine must have been hard to get down. Wilde brooked no such criticism: 'If it had been vinegar I should have drunk it all the same, for I have an admiration for that man which I can hardly express.' The next time he was interviewed by a re­porter, he said of Whitman, 'He is the grandest man I have ever seen, the simplest, most natural, and strongest character I have ever met in my life. I regard him as one of those wonderful, large, entire men who might have lived in any age and is not peculiar to any people. Strong, true, and perfectly sane: the closest approach to the Greek we have yet had in modern times.' "

Marily Oppezzo: Want to Be More Creative? Go for a Walk.

Your next big idea could be around the corner -- as long as you walk the half a block to get there.  

In her research, behavioral and learning scientist Marily Oppezzo tested groups of people as they brainstormed creative uses for everyday objects. She found that those who performed the exercise while seated averaged about 20 creative ideas in four minutes, but those who brainstormed while walking on a treadmill came up with close to double. 

When the treadmill group tried the exercise while seated, they still beat the average -- meaning the potential creativity benefits tended to last even after they stopped walking. Oppezzo suggests taking a walk before your next big meeting or whenever you’re stuck, but she says it’s important to intentionally choose a problem or topic to brainstorm about as you move. To avoid forgetting any ideas you float, she suggests using a voice recording app.