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

Story Merchant Books E-book Deal: FREE June 27 - June 30! The Nomad's Premonition ⁠by Georges Benay


A thrilling fusion of mystery and intrigue in an exotic setting.⁠
Eric Martin is desperate to forget his past, one that almost cost him his future.⁠

Working in Paris as deputy head of a bank's internal security department, Eric notices a high-speed trader's uncanny ability to predict extremely profitable trades. Even though there's nothing illegal about the activity, he knows the trader's success is more than just luck.

But, no one believes him. Armed only with a handful of data and a powerful instinct, Eric searches for the mysterious trader on his own. He suspects that a predictive algorithm has fallen into the wrong hands.

Eric sets off for Istanbul to find answers promised to him by an informant. He finds an unlikely ally in Interpol agent Stephanie Brule. With Interpol wanting him back in Paris and out of the way, Eric's quest is also hampered by the sudden appearance of his ex-lover, a boss he's not sure he can trust, and a terrorist who always seems one step ahead.

Will Eric put an end, once and for all, to the nightmare that began when he accepted a job that was too good to be true? Or will his need for revenge and justice lead him deeper into a treacherous world he has no way of escaping?

Writers It's Never Too Late to Follow Your Dream


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 at http://www.thewriterslifeline.com/

#FREE June 20 - June 24! TWO ED NOON MYSTERIES!⁠


The Tall Dolores (Ed Noon Mystery Book 1) by Michael Avallone ⁠⁠

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.⁠⁠

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Noon is caught between two lovely suspects trying to kill the other in order to collect the million dollar payoff!⁠

Writers Lifeline: Hollywood High Concept

 Studios today are producing, for the most part, two kinds of films. One type is pre-established franchises (comic books, TV series, famous novels, toys, such as Star Wars, Captain America, and The Hunger Games. The other type is high-concept scripts that are either conceived of in-house by executives, producers, managers, and agents who know what the market responds to — or by “spec” screenwriters determined to break the bank.

Writing even the greatest screenplay that isn’t high concept is choosing either the indie path or willful self-indulgence.

Dealing with “high concept” is one of the most challenging and frustrating tasks of the Hollywood writer, agent, or producer; reducing the story to a compelling logline is what high concept is all about. As a former academic not prepared for a world focused on marketing, it took me years to realize that the term “high concept” means almost its opposite. It means “simple concept,” as in Fatal Attraction: An innocent smile at a party turns a married man’s life upside down and put his family in mortal jeopardy.

Sometimes a title is its own high concept, as with Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel Gone with the Wind, the extended logline of which would be: “Against the backdrop of the great Civil War, a narcissistic Southern beauty obsessed with idyllic love struggles to reconstruct her life and finds that her true love is closer than she thinks.”

High concept is a story that will compel the broadest audiences to watch the movie after hearing a pitch of only a few, or sometimes even one, word(s):

Sleepless in Seattle
Unwanted Attentions
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
American Sniper
Four Weddings and a Funeral
San Andreas
Black Hawk Down
Panic Room
Runaway Bride
Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
Home Alone
Cabin Fever
Die Hard
Ex Machina

These examples of high concept are pitched by their very titles. It’s enough to hear the title—and know that Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson star—to compel audiences to the box office for Anger Management. 

Die Hard on a boat,” was allegedly the logline line that led to the sale of Steven Seagall’s Under Siege.

Titles like The Fisher King, Seven Days in May, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Shipping News may be evocative, but do not express a high concept that will instantly lure audiences. Though such titles may get lucky and become successful movies, in today’s blockbuster market they’d be swimming upstream.

Nothing is more important to marketing your story than a “high concept logline” that makes it immediately stand out from all those stories that are subtle, nuanced, and difficult to pitch, and that depend entirely upon “execution.” Here are some more examples that have led my companies or others to sales:

• “Jurassic Shark!” (the two-word description given AEI client Steve Alten’s Meg by ICM-agent Jeff Robinov, who spearheaded a “preempt” from Disney for $1.1 million; the story was then re-sold to Newline, and then to Warner Brothers)

• When the most obnoxious guy in the world realizes he’s become an asshole on a false premise, he makes a list of all the people he’s wronged and sets out to repay them one by one. (John Scott Shepherd’s Henry’s List of Wrongs, sold to New Line Pictures for $1.6 million).

Life or Something Like It: An ambitious and self-involved reporter is sparked into action to change the pattern of her life when she interviews a street-psychic who tells her that her life is meaningless—and that she’s going to die—soon.

The Madam’s Family: The true “Canal Street Brothel” story of three generations of madams and their battle against persecution by the FBI.

The Lost Valentine: A man and woman find the love of their lifetimes when they’re brought together to memorialize the bittersweet story of a doomed World War II pilot and the wife who promised to wait forever for his return.

Consider these further examples, grouped by “genre”:

A woman or a family in jeopardy

The Shallows: While riding the waves at a remote beach, a young surfer finds herself injured and stranded just twenty miles from shore on a buoy—as a great white shark begins stalking her.

Room: After being abducted, abused, and imprisoned for seven years in a small windowless room a mother devises a bold escape plan.

An ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances

The Danish Girl: What happens if the husband you adore needs to be a woman?
Woman in Gold: Six decades after World War II, a Jewish octogenarian begins a quest to reclaim the artwork confiscated from her family by the Nazis and now proudly celebrated by the Austrian government—including a famed Gustav Klimt masterpiece.

Men on a mission

Saving Private Ryan: US soldiers try to save their comrade who’s stationed behind enemy lines.

Bridge of Spies: At the height of the Cold War in 1960, the downing of an American spy plane and the pilot’s subsequent capture by the Soviets draws Brooklyn attorney James Donovan into the middle of an intense effort to secure the aviator’s release.

Man against nature

The Martian: He was left behind—on Mars.

The Revenant: A frontiersman fights for survival after being mauled by a grizzly and left for dead by his own hunting team.

Man or woman against the system

Spotlight: A Boston news team sets out to expose numerous cases of child molestation and cover up on the part of the local Catholic Archdiocese.

Concussion: A pathologist uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions and comes up against the corporate power of the NFL.

People Vs. Larry Flynt: A pornography publisher becomes the unlikely defender of free speech.

Class Action: A female attorney finds that her nemesis is her own father, and must choose between her corporate client and justice.

A woman escaping from something or someone she loves.

The Perfect Guy: After breaking up with her boyfriend, a professional woman gets involved with a man who seems almost too good to be true.

Enough: On the run from an abusive husband, a young mother begins to train herself to fight back.

Sleeping with the Enemy: A young woman fakes her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it’s impossible to elude her controlling husband.

Filmmakers long to spot in our onslaught of daily email queries a high concept logline that makes a story out of universal—

• human emotions: fear, love, hate, envy, etc.
• deadly sins: anger, greed, lust, etc.
• plot motivators: betrayal, vengeance, discovery, rebirth, survival, etc.
• virtues: loyalty, faith, responsibility, etc.

—and embodies those elements in characters we can care about, relate to, and root for to shape an “original story” that feels both fresh and relevant to today’s global market.

If you can do that, and your writing effectively expresses your vision, you’re only steps away from recognition in the toughest story marketplace of all.

Ken Atchity, The Story Merchant, visits with Mark to share a family recipe and talk about his book "MY OBIT Daddy Holding Me

Anyone who enjoyed Mircea Eliade’s autobiographical multi-volume Exile’s Odyssey, Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook My Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, or Richard Feynman’s Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman, will find My Obit: Daddy Holding Me a page-turner filled with poignant family experiences, explosive sibling rivalry, literary adventures, ethnic cooking, wide-ranging storytelling, the workings of the brain itself--and what can be learned about life from playing tennis for decades. The jokes and recipes alone are worth the entrance price.

Books and Pals Gives Ken Atchity's My Obit: Daddy Holding Me Five Stars!

 Review: My Obit: Daddy Holding Me 

by Kenneth Atchity

Genre: Memoir/Autobiography


The author describes his book this way.

“At the prompting of a marketing friend, I was advised to title this book, My Intensely Madcap, Lebanese/Cajun, Jesuit-Schizoid, Terminally Narcissistic, Food-Focused, East Coast/West Coast, Georgetown/Yale, Career-Changing, Cross-Dressing, Runaway Catholic Italophile, Paradoxically Dramatic, Linguistically Neurotic, Hollywood Academic, ADD-Overcompensating, Niche-Abhorring, Jocoserious Obit. But when my designer pointed out that title wouldn’t fit on the spine, much less on any public display list, I changed my mind. Again! The story of my life.

Which this is at least the first volume of. I hope it makes you laugh, spares you some of my grief, and leads you to insist on telling your story to anyone who will listen.”


“Dr. Ken Atchity loves being a writer, producer, teacher, career coach, and literary manager, responsible for launching hundreds of books and films. His life's passion is finding great stories and storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters--and making films which send their stories around the world.

His books include, most recently, novels The Messiah Matrix and Seven Ways to Die (with William Diehl) and nonfiction books for writers at every stage of their career. Based on his teaching, managing, and writing experience, he's successfully built bestselling careers for novelists, nonfiction writers, and screenwriters from the ground up.

Atchity has also produced 30 films, including Hysteria (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy), The Expatriate (Aaron Eckhart), The Lost Valentine (Betty White), Gospel Hill (Danny Glover), Joe Somebody (Tim Allen), Life or Something Like It (Angelina Jolie), The Amityville Horror: The Evil EscapesShadow of Obsession (Veronica Hammel), The Madam's Family (Ellen Burstyn).”


Memoirs are an interesting beast. Some I’ve read have been people who I have a lot in common with, growing up in the same environment geographically and culturally, where I find myself comparing our respective life experiences and how we viewed them, sometimes adjusting how I view some things in subtle ways or feeling validated that the author and I are in agreement. Other times the memoirist and I have nothing obvious in common, yet I realize in contrasting our different lives that there are still commonalities with everyone that are part of the generic human experience. These can also help me understand people not like me, which has obvious benefits.

This memoir, billed as volume 1 of Kenneth Atchity’s autobiography, fell somewhere in the middle. I’ve written more than a few book reviews in my time, but never for the big publications that Atchity has. I’ve made a few career or life decisions that were outside the norm, shaking things up with a purpose, which Atchity does. But mostly his experiences were much different from mine, growing up in a much different environment, in a different time, with a much different relationship with his family from what I’ve experienced. He’s also risen to the top of multiple fields, overcoming lots of challenges on the way, learning as he goes, making mistakes, and learning still more from them. In the process of learning about his life, I think I learned a bit more about myself, and maybe picked up a few ideas to help guide me in the future based on the lessons he’s learned from life thus far.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


So adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl  

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

Read more of Big AL's Reviews

George Gallo, Nick Vallelonga Team on High-End ‘Gambino’ Film Produced by Julius Nasso with Ken Atchity (EP)

Veteran Hollywood multi-hyphenate George Gallo (“Bad Boys,” “The Comeback Trail”) is attached to direct “Gambino,” a high-end biopic about organized crime boss Carlo Gambino that Gallo is co-writing with two-time Oscar winner Nick Vallelonga (“Green Book”).

The ambitious project, announced in Cannes, is being lead produced by Julius R. Nasso, also a Hollywood veteran, best known for his production partnership with Steven Seagal that went sour. Nasso more recently shepherded “Narc,” and is among producers of Susanne Rostock’s Harry Belafonte doc “Sing Your Song.” 

Nasso has acquired rights to the novel “Gambino: The Rise” by Pierre James which delves into the U.S. story of Cosa Nostra starting from its roots in Italy and the role played by Carlo Gambino, who was its boss from 1957 until his death in 1976 of natural causes in his Massapequa, Long Island, home.

“I have known this story all my life,” Gallo told Variety, speaking from Los Angeles.

Gallo added that Gambino’s world is very different from that of “The Sopranos,” noting that Carlo Gambino came from an educated background and was a quiet, soft‐spoken man with a courtly manner.

“He was a businessman in a darker universe,” Gallo said. “A tremendous Machiavellian money-maker; that’s why he got to the top and stayed there for decades.”

The “Gambino” film will be “a tale of money and power as the world changed around him,” and also, of course, of betrayals and violence. “But there won’t be a lot of people getting whacked,” the director went on to point out.

Gallo also noted that he’s been friends for decades with Vallelonga and Nasso. Nasso in turn has been pals for ages with U.S.-based Italian singer/songwriter and music producer Tony Renis, who is also among producers of the “Gambino” film. Renis is also set to play Gambino as an old man and is in charge of the film’s music score.

Vallelonga, speaking in Cannes, noted that the approach he and Gallo are taking is: “This is not just a mob movie. We’ve seen a lot of that. This is Shakespearean; it’s on that level. We have to elevate the material, and that’s what we are going to go for.”

“Think of ‘Once Upon a Time in America,’ said Nasso who started out in the film business as an assistant to Sergio Leone. “The book starts from when Gambino was a young boy, so there will be three characters playing the one [titular] role,” he added.

Nasso said he is looking to start pre-production on “Gambino” in Italy in January. The plan is for cameras to start rolling no later than July 15, 2023. The producer intends to reconstruct New York between the 1950s and the 70s at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios and shoot the entire film in Italy.

Nasso and his team have also been scouting locations in Italy’s southern Calabria, Puglia, and  Campania regions.

Casting, for which Nasso said he is seeking A-list Hollywood talent, will start as soon as the screenplay is ready. Meanwhile he is recruiting the film’s below-the-line crew in Italy and is in talks with triple-Oscar winner Dante Ferretti who is based at Cinecittà, to come on board as the film’s production designer he said.

“Gambino” is being produced by Julius R. Nasso, Tony Renis, China Bridge Capital founder and CEO Edward Zeng, and Santo Versace, who is an investor, and president of, Italy’s Minerva Pictures.

Minerva chief Gianluca Curti will serve as executive producer, as will Helena Zeng and Ken Atchity.

The film is being produced by Nasso Production, which is as Nasso-Zeng company. Pic is fully financed by Edward Zeng and former Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam, who were both present at the film’s Cannes announcement.

Minerva Pictures will be handling international sales, excluding U.S., on “Gambino.”

(Pictured above from left: Tony Renis; Nick Vallelonga; Julius R. Nasso in Cannes)

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