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

Story Merchant Books: Author Interview – Kenneth Atchity on is latest Release – My Obit, Daddy Holding Me


  • My Obit is an autobiography that explores the scenarios on family dynamics. Kenneth, what made you decide to write this autobiography at this stage of your life?

It occurred to me a few years ago that I might just end up dead. As a writer I hated the prospect that someone else might write my obit, and decided it was my job to do it myself!

  • What made you decide on throwing these into the mix?

The story of me is rich and funny and full of surprising twists and turns. One of the richest parts of life for me has been the food I loved along the way so I decided I needed to share that as well—plus my son insisted (he is an excellent cook!).

  • Which recipe is your favourite?

From a sentimental viewpoint, it’s the recipe for my Lebanese grandmother’s beans, “Tata’s beans.” For sheer culinary delight, it’d be the recipe for kibbeh nayah, tartare mixed with wheat.

  • Who was the biggest influence in your life?

Aside from my father and mother, I’d have to say it was the Jesuits, starting with Edmund Ziegelmeyer who stopped by our house every day beginning when I was 10 to teach me Latin and to inspire me to learn many languages.

  • If you could go back, what is the one thing that you would change in life?

I would have liked a role in The Godfather!

  • Would you say that all families are dysfunctional in a way?

Absolutely! Ambrose Bierce (Devil’s Dictionary) defined a family as, “a random group of characters who one would otherwise encounter only in a prison break or a train wreck.” So, to idealize the situation, it’s up to us to go out there and build a family in our own image and likeness—and that becomes your true family (though it may include a couple from the bloodline).

  • Would you say this book is a journey for yourself on self-reflection?

Yes indeed, in every way. That’s why it took so long to write it because it’s all about getting my story straight and recognizing that the happiest life is the one whose self-narration is the strongest and most heroic.

  • If you could go back, what is one thing you would have liked to have more time to pursue?

For sure, I would have liked to study music, play the piano, and learned to dance properly! I’m proud that I’ve composed a half dozen songs (lyrics) some of which appear in my movies and could have led a happy life just writing songs.

  • For many people, family dynamics is a major part of their day-to-day life, society’s expectations etc. In a nutshell, it’s a serious issue. What made you decide to portray it in a comedic, philosophical sense?

It’s only serious if you’re not an optimist with a sense of humor.

  • How long have you been working on this book? Is it something you just sat down and decided to write or is it something compiled over time?

I started it fifteen years ago and have been fiddling with it ever since. It was stop-and-go because I had constantly to wrestle with point of view—from what perspective to tell my story? And, of course, what to include, what not. At one point the draft was 900 pages before I decided it MUST be cut into several books. I’m hoping to publish Vol. 2 by the end of 2022.

  • What do you hope readers gain from reading this book?

I hope they enjoy it, learn something, and laugh a lot. And I hope they learn to take charge of their own stories and realize that power is life’s greatest gift. If you want a happy ending, you have to shape it.

  • What is next for Kenneth?
Aside from producing movies and series, which is ongoing, I’m gearing up to write a novel about the new age we live in, a post-truth age in which heroism is being redefined and communication tested to the maximum.

Read more

DENNIS PALUMBO on “Writers' Block is GOOD News for a Writer” at the APA Caucus on Medical Humanities in Psychiatry - May 24th

INAUGURAL MEETING APA Caucus on Medical Humanities in Psychiatry 
Co-Founders and Co-Chairs: Vincenzo Di Nicola and Andrei Novac 
 APA Annual Meeting – New Orleans, LA, USA 
Grand Ballroom B Tuesday, May 24, 2022 9-11 am EDT 

 A special inaugural lecture for our founding members by Dennis Palumbo 

 A psychotherapist and successful writer addresses an occupational hazard – the writer's block 

 “Writers' Block is GOOD News for a Writer” 

 In this short talk, author and licensed psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo addresses some conventional misconceptions about so-called “writers' blocks.” He’ll explore how and why such “blocks” create anxiety, reinforce negative self-concepts and undermine creative potential in a writer. Then he’ll present a new way to frame what a “block” actually is, and how successfully navigating it results in deeper, more personally relevant writing.

DENNIS PALUMBO, M.A., MFT is a writer and licensed psychotherapist in private

practice, specializing in creative issues. Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is a licensed psychotherapist and author. His mystery Fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime. His series of award-winning mystery thrillers (Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors, Phantom Limb, Head Wounds, and the latest, Panic Attack) feature Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist and trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police. Recently, Dennis was the technical consultant on the upcoming F/X TV series THE PATIENT, created by the writers of THE AMERICANS. For more info, visit www.dennispalumbo.com


Story Merchant Books: A.M. Adair Author of the Elle Anderson Thriller Series Interviewed on Heroes Behind Headlines

 The First Woman To Operate With the Navy SEALs

Heroes Behind Headlines

Before 2006, no woman had ever embedded to operate within a SEAL team, nor had a non-SEAL Counter-Intel officer ever been assigned to a platoon. Until
A.M. Adair.

Listen to her amazing now.

Before 2006, no woman had ever embedded to operate within a SEAL team, nor had a non-SEAL Counter-Intel officer ever been assigned to a platoon. HBH is honored to welcome the pioneer who broke down both of those barriers at once, Chief Warrant Officer Ama Adair.

Ama discusses the immense challenges she faced and tells the incredible story of an operation where she helped a SEAL Team target and take down not one, but two of the most wanted Al-Qaeda targets in Iraq.

Not only has Ama’s career been filled with firsts, but she also continually demonstrated the highest level of skill as an intelligence officer and interrogator and has the medals to prove it.


Author Daniel Moskowitz

Author Daniel Moskowitz in the photo below holding his book Bronx Stagger in an unintentional shameless act of self-promotion.

Moskowitz volunteered to help his former colleagues organize assigned Family Court Attorney's rally for better paySometimes good deeds do go rewarded.  His novel takes place in Bronx Family Court, the busiest court in NYC.

Credit...Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Lawyers who are known as panel attorneys and who represent children and indigent adults, have been departing the system by the dozens over the past decade, leaving many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers without their constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel. The attorneys say that their ranks are thinning because their salaries have not risen in close to two decades, and they are now fighting in court to change that.

Read more


Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll are on the docket of Bronx Family Court, the busiest court in NYC. Schwartz the Lawyer fights for justice for families while struggling with personal demons that place his own family Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll are on the docket of Bronx Family Court, the busiest court in NYC. Schwartz the Lawyer fights for justice for families while struggling with personal demons that place his own family risk.

 Available On Amazon

A Screenwriter's Life in the Waiting Room

How long can I wait?

Screenwriters ask me that all the time, becoming impatient and anxious that their script is taking so long to make it to the screen.

My answer surprises them:

Don’t wait at all.

Waiting is a massive waste of time and can lead to depression and/or existential despair, and who knows what else. Write something while you wait. Plant another seed, cultivate it, and train it to grow straight. And while it’s taking its sweet time to bud and then bloom, do something else. Start a new spec script!

Back in my own “waiting room” in the sixties, I reviewed a great book by Barry Stevens: Don’t Push the River, It Flows by Itself. I translated Stevens’ Zen advice to Hollywood where every project has its own clock and will happen when and only when that clock reaches the appointed hour. Other than keeping that project on track the best you can by responding when asked to or when appropriate, there’s nothing much you can do—other than financing it yourself (a serious option, by the way) to speed up that project’s clock. By the nature of things, the project clock is invisible, which means extra frustration for the creator—unless you refuse to wait.

Recently, I, and my dear producing partner Norman Stephens, produced a sweet little Christmas movie called Angels in the Snow. I had only been trying to get that movie produced for twenty years! I sold it to TNN once and came close to a deal at Hallmark another time. My client Steve Alten’s Meg is currently, after twenty-one years, shooting in New Zealand. What was I doing for the last twenty years? Writing twelve scripts and producing other films for television and cinema, managing hundreds of books, writing and publishing ten of my own, playing tennis, traveling, having a wonderful life. Not waiting.

Waiting makes writers neurotic. If I allowed myself to express my neurosis, as many writers have not yet learned not to do, I would drive those involved in making my or my clients’ stories into films crazy—and risk losing their support or return calls. The question I personally hate hearing the most, “What’s going on?” is one I have to force myself to refrain from asking. Your job, when it’s your turn to move your story forward, is to “get the ball out of your court” as efficiently, as well, and as soon as possible. Then, on that particular project, you have to wait for it to be returned to your court. Very few actual events requiring your help occur along the way, leaving a huge gap of dead time in between them, like super novae separated by vast time years of space. But it’s not dead time if you use it for something else creative.

If the glacial pace of the Hollywood creative business fills you with dread, you’re in the wrong business or you’re dealing with it the wrong way. Don’t wait. Do. As the great photographer Ansel Adams put it: “Start doing more. It’ll get rid of all those moods you’re having.”

Writer/producer/literary manager and former professor Ken Atchity’s most recent book for writers is Sell Your Story to Hollywood: Writer’s Pocket Guide to the Business of Show Business (to accompany his online course realfasthollywooddeal.com. This article is adapted from that book.