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

Steve Alten on Your California Life

Enjoy an underwater adventure like no other with sharks, sea monsters and thrills all included. Aubrey Aquino chat swith Steve Alten about this new virtual stay under the sea! 

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A Write Time Reviewed by The Screenwriting Struggle



I’ve reviewed many books about the writing process, from the broad and overarching to the highly specialized, focused on a singular step of the journey. I’ve read the greats’ musings on everything from formulating the idea, to plotting it out, to emphasizing the emotional element, to remedies for writer’s block. Each is great in its own right, but what if I want a mentor to really make it personal, get in my head, delve into the intricacies of my own unique process, troubleshoot my pet neuroses that seem to chronically hold me back from reaching what I know to be my true potential, and clue me in on how to harness and optimize the writer’s most precious resource; time. Simple request, right? Simple for Kenneth Atchity, author of Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision – and Beyond.

This book reads like a writer’s counseling session (the constructive kind), in every sense of that term; from cold hard business prudence strategies to processing deep-seated self-defeating thoughts. It grabs you from the Author’s Note which, as with any great forward or introduction, does more than just preview what’s to come. Dr. Atchity‘s credibility is firmly established here. He lets us know that 1) he feels our pain, and understands what we’re going through as creative souls who want to be professional artists, and 2) he’s been around the block enough times to know how to get us to where we want to be.

Once we get rolling, Atchity dispenses with the BS right out of the gate and lets us know that, while writing might be based on intuition and creative passions, it’s a craft and a discipline that must be honed through a rigorous and deliberate regimen. But here’s the good news – he’s going to take you by the hand and lead you through the process of establishing a productive and rewarding routine, and he’s going to leverage your own psychology to do it, turning your debilitating issues and hangups to your advantage. The book takes a deep dive into the human mind, points out how its natural workings must be considered, accommodated, and manipulated to develop habits and tricks to make your mental apparatus work for you instead of against you in achieving your creative goals, and some of his strategies will really surprise you!

Atchity provides an intriguing illustration of the interplay between parts of the brain that activates the motive power of creation. Just as conflict is the foundation of story, so it’s also the spark that sets your creative will into motion – this is the conflict between your rational faculties (which he nicknames the Continent of Reason) and your free-wheeling intuition (dubbed the Islands of Consciousness). The original quirky ideas of the islands are translated into the comprehensible and relatable language of the Continent through the intermediary function he calls the Managing Editor. Getting a grasp on these dynamics allows us to work toward striking a balance between “tricking” our brains into action and riding the wave of their natural functioning to channel our mental energy into our writing. Sound intriguing? That’s just the beginning!

As the title indicates, Write Time charts a detailed path to writing success, leaving no stone unturned, from initial dream all the way to polished product. It’s a comprehensive guide to the creative, technical, business, and personal aspects of the craft. Sound too rigid and formulaic for your taste? What if I told you it entails A LOT of variation at the numerous stages, and more than a few mandated vacations? The aim isn’t that you match a prescribed workflow to the letter. It’s to show you a proven real-world model and leave you to dovetail what’s useful with your own strengths, fill in any gaps in your process, make adjustments, and replace what’s not working for you. This section is all about establishing a writing agenda that your mind is geared to stick to and thrive on, and how to not become a statistic who perpetually and eternally has a “work in progress.”

Of course, one of the main threads of the book is the teaching of time management. It’ll show that you don’t really lack the time to achieve your writing goals. The time is there, you’re just not coordinating your cognitive resources in such a way to generate the necessary output within that time. Maintaining a reasonable perspective on the work/ time relationship is paramount. There are methods of mindset, planning, strategy, prioritizing, and step-by-step exercises to optimize your available chunks of time (even if you have to steal them). This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

From there the writing process begins, and we’re off to the races. Here’s what’s in store as you make your way through Write Time:

  • Approaching drafting and revision
  • Style – how it comes about, and its rightful place in the writer’s hierarchy of values (pretty low, but valuable)
  • A sample step by step process of creating a nonfiction book, explaining the reasons for the order, actions, and method at each waypoint; with an accompanying comparison to fiction writing
  • The most important elements of fiction, and how to pack your story with maximum drama by tapping into your intuition to find its natural shape and structure (which has nothing to do with chronology)
  • What your main priority should be to succeed in writing (Hint: It’s not using big words and feeling clever)
  • A lengthy chapter on getting your book published. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing and skipping this one as irrelevant to the plight of a screenwriter. There’s a wealth of information here about…
    • Dealing with gatekeepers with respect and professionalism (in person and through correspondence such as query letters and emails)
    • Legal forms and contracts for deal-making
    • Handling rejection, and the higher pressure situation of handling acceptance
    • Seeking representation, consulting attorneys
    • Customizing your workspace.
  • The importance of understanding mythology for shaping and clarifying your story, with a striking illustration of how a film can go astray due to the inconsistent retelling of a myth.
  • Methods and tricks for getting in touch with your subconscious through dreamwork and other avenues, along with some brilliant case studies of psychological techniques employed by writers having story problems, that’ll leave you inspired and cracking up.
  • Overcoming psychological traumas of the past by channeling them into our writing and bridging the gap between conscious and unconscious.
  • Some nice practical nitty-gritty stuff on screenwriting – character development, structure, twists, layers of effective storytelling; all through the prism of the key questions on the minds of the producers/ executives evaluating and vetting your work for production and/ or broadcast.
  • The card system revisited, with workflow tips distinguishing the processes of novels vs. screenplays.
  • Insights about revising (keep a particular eye out for the “conflict or cut” rule), and how many revisions are enough.
  • The crucial golden Hollywood skill of pitching and how it must not be overlooked in one’s pursuit of a screenwriting career, with a really fun illustration of the pitch-to-production process (it involves a relay race).
  • A baker’s dozen of straightforward rules for breaking into Hollywood; covering the personal, psychological, mindset, business, and more.
  • A critical therapeutic chapter on Recapturing Creativity – what to do when your motivation to create (inevitably) wanes. A veritable troubleshooting manual for the writer’s perspective. Something to be revisited any time you feel you’ve lost your way.
  • He closes with an amazing collection of his favorite quotes from great figures to leave the reader feeling inspired, encouraged, and motivated to carry on with the struggle.

Overall, Write Time amounts to a rather economical mentoring session with a writing sage who’s been there, done that, and wants us to get there too. It’s a premium blend of tough love, advice, encouragement, clarification, and delusion-busting. It approaches the needs of the writer from every angle and gives us what we’re yearning for, whatever that may be. For the writer at any stage of the game looking for guidance, this one is not to be missed.

Ken's Weekly Book Recommendation: Medusa: Heroines of Classical Greece Book Series by Scot Hines


In one of the most compelling tales from classical Greece since Mary Renault's Bull from the Sea and Fire from Heaven, author Scot Hines retells the legend of Medusa in a way that makes her feel like a contemporary millennial girl with very special problems.

Award winning writer/ director/ producer, Nicole Conn on KFXM Radio Talks about her New Lesbian Dating Show!

Nicole Conn... Few people are immune to the blush of new love. It’s a primary driver for all of humanity. But what does it feel like for a woman the first time she’s with another woman? What does our Lead’s first kiss with a woman feel like? First Date? First Dance? Viewers get to share in our Lead’s elation and confusion, lust and distrust, and everything in between as she discovers her authentic self and identity. And between two women, romance can multiply tenfold, creating endless scenarios for fun, mischief and romance. It’s about finding true love during a life altering transition that ups the ante.

Listen to "Radio Show 11-07-2020 with guest Nicole Conn and the Lesbian Dating Show" on Spreaker.

Pulp Today 01: The Tall Dolores

 David Avallone introduces, and reads the first pages of, his father Michael Avallone's classic 1953 novel THE TALL DOLORES.

Enter Ed Noon on the world scene. The tallest burlesque queen in the universe hires Noon to find her even taller lover, who has vanished under strange circumstances. He turns up stabbed and dead on the steps of the Museum of Natural History, and sets Noon on a twisted murderous missing diamond-encrusted trail that ultimately leads to the Statue of Liberty. Noon meets Lt. Mike Monks of NY’s Homicide Dept who will become not only a Captain, but also Noon’s greatest ally and friend over the next four decades.

Want to read the rest of the book? Available on Amazon

Steve Alten on Into Everything with Pete & Kels Podcast

Listen here

In this episode they sit down with New York Times bestselling author of the MEG series, Steve Alten! They talk about his books and his new interactive website! 

In this episode we discuss:

  • The Meg - both the book and the movie
  • The Loch and other novels
  • Steve's involvement in education/literacy for teens
  • Sea Monsters Cove
  • What's coming out next

Guest Bio:

Steve Alten is a New York Times and internationally best selling author. He has written more than 20 novels and is most well known for his MEG series, The Loch, and the Domain trilogy. He is part of the Adopt-An-Author teen-reading program used across the US.

Check out his new interactive website:
You can also find Steve at:
Instagram: @stevealtenofficial
Twitter: @meg82159

Q&A Session with Career Change Coach Dr. Ken Atchity

Dr. Ken Atchity, son of a war vet, has seen the rocky adjustment some troops face when transitioning to civilian life. He is a Fulbright professor of American culture, a story editor, and career consultant who has helped get over 260+ stories published. He has also produced over 30+ feature films and television shows, and written 20+ books. 

Dr. Atchity focuses on helping veterans find “fulfilling” post-service careers. He offers strategies and tactics to help you find your right career path, ready to coach you into whatever career you would love to be doing. He believes stories change the world and wants to offer all veterans a free opportunity to benefit from his experience


Ken's Weekly Book Recommendation: Writing Treatments to Sell by Ken Atchity and Chi-Li Wong

As Hollywood insiders know, the first step in selling your story idea for film or television is preparing a treatment, the brief pitch that sells the concept to a busy producer or agent.  ⁠

This manual is a step by step guide to writing the perfect treatment, and to using it to perfect your dramatic art and market your work to entertainment buyers and gatekeepers.⁠

Available on Amazon

Help, we're stressed out! Election stress and anxiety in America

 Feeling a little stressed? Anxious? So are we!

Psychologist Meg Van Deusen on understanding existential stress and anxiety and how to deal with it.

Seattle's Meg Van Deusen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, mindfulness practitioner, and the author of Stressed in the US: Twelve Tools to Tackle Anxiety, Loneliness, Tech-Addiction and More helps us deal with our feelings of stress and anxiety around the election, the pandemic ... everything!

She also fills us in on how stress is impacting different parts of the population and what role technology might play.

Stressed in the US Book Cover

Stressed in the US: Twelve Tools to Tackle Anxiety, Loneliness, Tech-Addiction and More

Stressed in the US addresses the relevant cultural phenomena that are contributing to stress in the US since the turn of the millennium, such as tech addiction, loneliness and anxiety. Meg Van Deusen talks about what we can do to mitigate this pervasive problem.

“In this compelling book, Meg Van Deusen delivers on her promise of sharing effective navigational tools to help us make our way safely across the troubled waters of our times.”

 Dr. Vincent Atchity, President and CEO, Mental Health Colorado

About the Book

Seventy-five percent of Americans are moderately stressed. Seventy-five percent of Americans are lonely. More than 33 percent of us sleep less than six hours a night. In addition, 77 percent of us use social media daily and 81 percent of us own a smartphone. Why are these statistics important? Because loneliness, sleep-deprivation, social media use, tech use, and even gut-imbalance—which the Huffington Post refers to as “the modern plague”—are all causes and results of stress. Stress is the reason for at least 75 percent of today’s doctor’s visits, costing the US billions per year in employee absenteeism, accidents, and illnesses. 

9/11, climate change, a historic economic crisis, numerous mass shootings, an inordinate amount of school lockdowns, a foreign attack on our election, a politically divided country, tech-induced anxiety and addiction, and information overload: since 2000, these unique-to-our-time phenomena have created a petri dish of stress in the US, causing a host of emotional and physical ailments.

Here’s the problem: while the well-researched, psychological theory on attachment tells us that secure attachments to each other and to our nation create resilience to stress, our current American culture is creating barriers, not pathways, to human trust and closeness. Stressed in the US: Twelve Tools to Tackle Anxiety, Loneliness, Tech-Addiction and More investigates current, cultural phenomena that are causing a convergence of increased stress with decreased interpersonal connection from an attachment theory perspective.

Dr. Van Deusen explains why and how our relationships are breaking down at a time when we need them the most. The good news? As a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and mindfulness practitioner, she offers insights and solutions to a complex, pervasive problem.

• Restorative practices protect us
• Nature calms us
• Mindfulness connects us 

Dealing With Your Type-C Creative Mind: Anxiety


For all storytellers—novelists, screenwriters, journalists, nonfiction writers, and children’s book writers.⁠

Learn more about One-on-one coaching to help understand a Type-C personality and equip you with practical tools to make yourself more productive and less frustrated with storytelling.⁠⁠