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

Filled Up Cup with Ashley Cau Interviews Ken Atchity About Storytelling and his memoir My Obit: Daddy Holding Me

On Amazon 

They discuss My Obit: Daddy Holding Me. This is volume one of Ken's memoir. They discuss why it is important to tell your loved ones the story of your life and how valuable it can be in the grieving process. Volume two, My Obit: My Southern Belle, is now available.

They also discuss the art of story-telling and how it can build the connections in your life. It is also an important skill to learn how to read your audience and Ken tells the tales of a few that have mastered and failed miserably at this. 

Film Courage: 3 Rules Beginning Screenwriters Need To Know

The first thing that a screenwriter needs to know is everything has to be connected to everything else. That's the biggest difference between a screenplay and a novel.   

Become A Better Storyteller Today...

With A Brand New Online Course From Author And Hollywood Producer Ken Atchity Designed to Improve Your Storytelling.

Learn From The Pros On Creating A More Impactful 
& Marketable Story.

Pay Upfront Or Utilize Our Payment Plan To Pay As You Learn!


The Meg 3 release date speculation, cast, plot, and more news.

The action movie franchise with the biggest bite is back. Here is everything that you need to know about the potential Meg 3 release date, cast, plot and more.

What is the Meg 3 release date? 

Based on Steve Alten’s novels of the same name, The Meg is one of the most beloved popcorn movie franchises in Hollywood. And since 2018, after we first saw Jason Statham fight a giant shark, film fans have been hooked by Warner Bros’ cinematic fishing line.

The Meg is one of the best shark movies of all time, and with the new movie, The Meg 2, fans are wondering if a new aquatic monster universe is on the horizon. While Meg 2: The Trench wasn’t as fun as its predecessor it did remind us about one thing: giant monsters are cool, and the more of them, the better.

So like any good film fan, The Digital Fix has braved the deep waters to give you all the information you need on a potential sequel. From The Meg 3 release date, cast, plot, and more, we’ve mapped out all the details.

The Meg 3 release date speculation

Currently, there is no release date for a potential Meg 3, but we expect that the Shark franchise will return to the big screen in 2026.

The first movie, The Meg, came out in 2018, while Meg 2: The Trench was released in 2023. It may seem like these films take a while and that another sequel will be a long wait, but without Covid-19 slowing things down, we doubt that the break between entries will be as massive this time around.

And, although no sequel has been announced, Ben Wheatley, the director of Meg 2: The Trench, has revealed that he’d love to continue the franchise. “There’s a lot more to explore in that world. It’s very rich,” he told TotalFilm Magazine. “The international-ness of it is very interesting.”

We also have to remember that there are still plenty of Meg books in Alten’s franchise to explore. There are eight books in his series, so this franchise has plenty to work with. Similarly, if Meg 2 makes a killing at the box office like the first 2018 film, we know that Warner Bros will be anxious to greenlight another sequel as soon as possible.

Who will be in the Meg 3 cast?

It is safe to say that if a Meg 3 is announced, Jason Statham will be back as Jonas Taylor, along with his mates from the first two movies Page Kennedy as DJ and Cliff Curtis as James “Mac” Mackreides.

We also suspect that Sophia Cai will return as Meiying Zhang and that Meg 2 cast newcomer Wu Jing will be back as her Uncle Jiuming. And finally, we can’t forget about the most important Meg character who has shown up in every movie thus far, Kelly as Pippin, the dog.

Here is the expected Meg 3 cast list:

Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor

Wu Jing as Jiuming

Sophia Cai as Meiying Zhang

Page Kennedy as DJ

Cliff Curtis as James “Mac” Mackreides

Kelly the dog as Pippin

In terms of villains, none of the new faces with nefarious plans managed to survive in Meg 2, so we are pretty sure new faces with pop up to replace them as shark bait in the future. Keep an eye on this guide as the list above continues to grow.

What will the Meg 3 be about?

Since both The Meg and Meg 2 were loosely based on Steve Alten’s books, we expect that The Meg 3 will follow a similar story to the 2004 novel Primal Waters.

So with that in mind, we’ll see an older Jonas 18 years after the events of Meg 2. However, his days as a diver are done as he instead decides to enter the world of showbiz as an expert commentator on a reality TV show called “Daredevils.” However, as he boards a boat for the new show, he enters the latest feeding grounds of Megs. Yep, there are more Megs again, folks.

Since the Meg movies differ from the books (which showed Jonas being married to a version of Li Bingbing’s character Suyin Zhang, with kids), we can expect that the Meg 3 will alter a few things from the book. Firstly, at the beginning of Meg 2, it is revealed that Suyin Zhang is dead, and with no romantic prospects of his own, the only daughter figure Jonas has is Meiying Zhang, Suyin’s kid.

Alten’s novels are also a lot darker than the Meg movies dealing with PTSD, psychological torture, and some gore. Obviously, changes on that front will need to be made to match the franchise’s 12A age rating. All of this plot speculation isn’t confirmed yet. We may see a film that strays completely away from Alten’s novels. Stay tuned for updates.

Is there a Meg 3 trailer?

Sorry giant shark fans, but there is no trailer for the Meg 3 just yet, and it won’t be for a while since a new movie hasn’t been announced, let alone finished production yet.

We also have to remember that movies like The Meg are packed with special effects and require more time in the post-production phase. So even if we get a release date soon, we know that the first bit of footage we’ll see for the sequel will likely pop up a few months before it hits the big screen.

While we wait for a teaser, here is the trailer for Meg 2: The Trench to satisfy all your ancient monster needs.

Where can I watch The Meg?

The Meg 2: The Trench is currently streaming on Max, Hulu Vudu, Apple TV, Prime Video or ROW8, on your Roku device. Fans can expect that the Meg 3 will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps and have a theatrical release.

After a standard exclusivity window, Meg 3 will probably head to streaming and physical media. However, it needs to be confirmed as happening first, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet!

While we wait for more Meg news, you can check our guides on how to watch the Meg 2, and find out if the Meg 2 has a post-credit scene. We also have an article breaking down the scary true story behind The Meg that is a must-read for shark fans!

via Digital Fix

Story Merchant Books E-Book Count Down Deal!


December 18  $0.99

December 19  $1.99

December 20  $2.99

December 21  $3.99

December 22  $5.99

Father Christmas is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that will bring families together with inspirational holiday cheer and nostalgia for the comfort of Santa Claus. 

“A beautifully-written tribute to fathers and their daughters, mothers and their sons, and the true spirit of Christmas. It will touch your heart.”—Malcolm McDowell

"This beautiful family story makes me believe in Santa Claus." —Norman Stephens, former head Warner Television, Village Roadshow

"Herrington is a born storyteller. His skills are in full display here as he reminds us all, in the tradition of O’Henry, Dickens, and the Grimms, how the Christmas season can restore our faith in each other." —John Harrison, writer/director Frank Herbert’s Dune

We appreciate your Amazon Review. 

Dennis Palumbo's Panic Attack Makes Linda Reid's favorite reads in 2023

My favorite reads in 2023…

Panic Attack By Dennis Palumbo

Available on Amazon

Why did I love this book?

As an avid reader and digester of Dennis Palumbo’s outstanding thriller series, I eagerly dived into his latest book, Panic Attack.

Rinaldi expertly uses his skills as a psychologist with a “tough on the outside, warm heart on the inside” personality to extricate himself from the dangerous situations he is drawn to as an advocate for compassionate justice and the innocent.

In Panic Attack, Rinaldi witnesses a college mascot shot by a sniper at a football game and gets drawn into another murder mystery when the intended victim calls the psychologist to help him deal with his panic. Soon, Rinaldi has been drafted to investigate a killing spree in which a serial murderer could be targeting him.

Palumbo, as in his other Rinaldi books, weaves a gripping, exciting thriller with fascinating characters and always surprising plot twists set in a wonderfully created atmosphere of Pittsburgh noir. I’ve enjoyed all the other outstanding Rinaldi thrillers and look forward to the next book in Palumbo’s wonderful series. Bosch producers, are you listening?

What is this book about?

A shooter takes deadly aim, and throws a city into panicPsychologist Daniel Rinaldi is no stranger to trauma. A survivor of not one, but two attempts on his life by a deranged killer, the therapist also counsels trauma patients in his private practice, and contracts with the Pittsburgh Police to help victims of violent crime cope with their experience. When a sports mascot is gunned down mid-field by a sniper at a college football game he attends, Rinaldi becomes an accidental yet integral part of the investigation. To begin with, the victim in the costume is not the person… show more.

via Linda Reid

Broadway Actress Rumi Oyama’s Directorial Debut, “SPIRIT BOX,” Garners Prestigious Accolade at the Oscar Micheaux Film Festival 2023

In a triumphant moment for Broadway actress turned director Rumi Oyama, her debut film, SPIRIT BOX Episode 1: “The Unleashed,” clinched the coveted “Outstanding Dramatic Digital Series” award at the 2023 Oscar Micheaux Film Festival in LA.

Management partner Ken Atchity, CEO of Story Merchant/Atchity Productions (The Meg/Meg 2: The Trench), commented that “The narrative unfolds with such suspense and intrigue, keeping us on the edge of our seats. The unique blend of Japanese spirit boxes, ghosts, and the unraveling of family secrets added layers of complexity that made every second a thrilling discovery.”

Garnering additional nominations for “Outstanding Sci-Fi/Fantasy” and the prestigious “Panavision Award,” SPIRIT BOX is poised to captivate audiences with its compelling narrative and global perspective. Penned and directed by Oyama, the film boasts executive producers Elliott and Cathy Masie of Masie Productions (Kinky Boots, The Prom, Allegiance), as well as a cast and crew comprised of over 50 percent BIPOC or women filmmakers.

In SPIRIT BOX, a troubled teenager, grappling with the mysterious death of his parents, is entrusted with saving New York City from an onslaught of ghosts unleashed from Japanese spirit boxes, leading him to confront his family’s darkest secrets.

Executive Producer Elliott Masie lauded SPIRIT BOX, stating, “It is a compelling story with mystery, history, and a global perspective, powerfully appealing to both younger and mature audiences.”

Rumi Oyama, the Japanese-American writer/director/choreographer of the film, shares her inspiration for SPIRIT BOX, stating, “In a time of upheaval and disconnection, the story aims to help people connect by offering insights into Japanese secrets that can help flourish in today’s increasingly disconnected world.”

The recognition at the Micheaux Film Festival is a testament to SPIRIT BOX’s impact, prompting the team to actively explore various mediums such as TV series, feature films, anime, and stage productions to bring its stories to a broader audience.

To see the SPIRIT BOX trailer, visit Kuma Dakko Productions https://www.kumadakkoproductions.com/films

About Rumi Oyama: Born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, Rumi Oyama is a versatile talent with a Broadway background and a B.A. in law from Chuo University. Notable for her roles in Running for Grace (film), Allegiance (Broadway), and Sayonara (where she won the Fred and Adele Astaire Award in 2016 for Outstanding Female Dancer Off-Broadway), Oyama founded Kuma Dakko Productions in 2021 to create films with authentic Japanese influences and inspirational messages. KUMA (くま ) means “bear,” and DAKKO (抱っこ) means “hug.” BEAR HUG. The goal is to unite people despite race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. Learn more at Kuma Dakko Productions.

Over 50 percent of the cast and crew are BIPOC or women filmmakers, emphasizing our commitment to diversity and inclusivity in storytelling.

About Micheaux Film Festival: The Micheaux Film Festival is a multicultural and BIPOC-focused event dedicated to showcasing and celebrating diverse representation, gender, and identity parity in the entertainment and media landscape.

About Management Partner, Story Merchant, and Atchity Productions: Story Merchant Books is a facilitator for direct publishing of books (novels, poetry and nonfiction), while its sister company, Story Merchant, represents them to entertainment (web, television, and motion pictures). Story Merchant’s goal is to discover dramatically or widely informative exciting books and help them reach maximum audiences in all media. Story Merchant sister company Atchity Productions (MEG/MEG 2) produces books, published or enroute to publication and supervises their scripting. 

Story Merchant E-Book Deal!

⁠#FREE December 11 - December 15! 

Winner in the MEMOIR category Independent Press Awards


Iran Hostage Crisis told from the perspective of a wife of a hostage, & mother of three children.  

Many books have been written about the Iran Hostage Crisis. Some accounts are by the hostages themselves, others by the journalists who got involved in the daily announcements of current events. This book is written from a different perspective - that of a wife of a hostage, and mother of three children. This story details her experience of the crisis and how it affected her children and her in their daily lives and still does so many years later.

We appreciate your Amazon review. 

Born to Talk Radio with Marsha Wietecha Interviews Eric Burns about his new book When the Dead Talked and the Smartest Minds in the World Listened - Part One!


Eric Burns

Here is a synopsis of Eric’s book, When The Dead Talked and The Smartest Minds in the World Listened. According to Live Science, one out of every five people in the United States currently believes it is possible to communicate with the dead. They are in good company: Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Leo Tolstoy, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, and Marie and Pierre Curie all concurred.

In fact, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, confidence in communication with the dearly departed was so prevalent that it became regarded as a religion! At its peak, there were more Spiritualists in the United States and England than Mormons or Christian Scientists.
Second only to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, Spiritualism sparked the greatest controversy of faith in the half-century of its prominence. Though few historians seem to know of it, Spiritualism is not only crucial to an understanding of both past and present, but also to the inner workings of the human animal.

One of modern history’s most revealing stories, Spiritualism comprises feats that stretch credulity to the breaking point and investigations that often produced equally staggering results.

As brilliant men and women are introduced in When the Dead Talked, their enduring accomplishments are highlighted. It becomes ever more startling to contemplate the fact that, once upon a time, so many geniuses devoted themselves to the study of such an oft-derided topic.


Eric’s Takeaways.

1:  “It is possible that we use the word “reality” incorrectly.  We use it as a singular.  But it might be plural: “realities.”  This is the conclusion at which some of “the smartest minds in the world” arrived after their meticulous studies of the possibility of an afterlife.”

2:  “The reason I love what I do; i.e., write social history, is that the research it requires enables me to continue to educate myself at the same time that I try to transmit what I have learned to the reader in an artistic manner, one that stimulates, and satisfies, the reader’s own quest for knowledge.”

3:  “Perhaps more than anything else, I hope that what readers take away from When the Dead Talked . . . and the Smartest Minds in the World Listened is a greater open-mindedness than they previously possessed, a greater willingness to consider possibilities that they previously thought of as impossible.”

Eric Burns.

To begin with, Eric was a correspondent for NBC News, appearing regularly on NBC Nightly News and the Today Show.  He was named one of the best writers in the history of broadcast journalism, joining such luminaries as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, and David Brinkley.  He is also the winner of two Emmys for television news commentary.  Eric has written 15 books, two of which received the highest award given by the American Library Association.

In Closing.

Eric will be sharing what he loves about his career and why he loves writing.  You will find him very engaging.

Film Courage: A Formula for Writing a Great Story

A Great Story Starts With a Great Character

Become A Better Storyteller Today...

With A Brand New Online Course From Author And Hollywood Producer Ken Atchity Designed to Improve Your Storytelling.

Learn From The Pros On Creating A More Impactful 
& Marketable Story.

Pay Upfront Or Utilize Our Payment Plan To Pay As You Learn!


Story Merchant Books E-Book Deal: #FREE December 4 - December 8 A Potter's Tale by Dave Davis

 Readers Are Loving Dr. Dave Davis’ A Potter’s Tale.

1935. Roz Lhulier and his team unearth the massive tomb of Pakal, the greatest Mayan king. It’s the discovery of the century, they think. They’re wrong. 

Instead, deep in the pyramid that holds the seventh-century ruler, hides a primitive Codex, a book of prophecy, predicting the collapse of the solar system. Raising the question, “Does the world end?”

Get in on the Conversation by Leaving Your Own Amazon Review Today! 

Here’s Why Writing A Screenplay Is Harder Than Writing A Novel - Dr. Ken Atchity


Become A Better Storyteller Today...

With A Brand New Online Course From Author And Hollywood Producer Ken Atchity Designed to Improve Your Storytelling.

Learn From The Pros On Creating A More Impactful 
& Marketable Story.

Pay Upfront Or Utilize Our Payment Plan To Pay As You Learn!



Atchity Productions, the company behind the wildly successful film franchise The Meg, has signed an agreement with independent comic book publisher Fifth Ring Studios to represent and bring the critically acclaimed martial arts comic Shadow Ghost to Film and TV.

Shadow Ghost: The Kung Fu Comic by a Kung Fu Master is a spellbinding coming of age tale about a young man whose search for the truth about a legendary hero leads him to study Kung Fu in Chinatown, and through a twist of fate, becomes part of the legend himself.

The groundbreaking comic book is written and illustrated by real life Kung Fu Master and Fifth Ring Studios founder, Sifu Kurtis Fujita.

“We are thrilled to bring the saga of the Shadow Ghost comic to live action and animation audiences with Atchity Productions who has an impressive record of success in the global film market.” said Fujita.

Given the universal appeal of both the martial arts and comic book genres along with the unprecedented uniqueness of the Shadow Ghost property, fans of action cinema will have much to look forward to with the adaptation of the Kung Fu comic by a Kung Fu master.

Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine Reviews Rat Pack Party Girl: Jane McCormick with Patti Wicklund - FREE ON AMAZON THIS WEEK!

From her 1960s sexcapades with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Vic Damone, to sex-trade survivor and women's advocate the former Rat Pack high-roller tells a wrenching story of endurance!

purchase on Amazon.com

Some stories are told with passion, heart and feeling. Some stories need to be told in order to enlighten the world about events that might not always be in the headlines of a newspaper or a newscast but need to be brought to the public. This story needs to be told and retold so that women, children, young boys and girls, young adults become aware of the pitfalls of falling for the lies, deceits, deceptions and unsavory behaviors of those that would prey on the weaknesses of others.

In 2007 Jane McCormick's perspective on life took on a different turn and Jane would decide to write a book called Breaking her Silence: Confessions of a Rat Pack Party Girl and Sex Trade Survivor. The title was Patti’s idea and a good one. Printing over 2000 copies and things changed greatly as the interviews came and Jane met with FBI agents, law enforcement agencies and more hoping to help other women. Jane explains how she and Patti have helped other women, dealt with her adversities and had the courage, bravery and forethought to come out and tell this story.

This is a story that although some of the scenes are graphic and the language strong should be read by young adults and adults starting out in life teaching them what never to do. Never let anyone own you body and soul. Never become someone you are not. Never let anyone tell you that you are worthless and never stay silent when someone abuses you. Schools need to be more vigilant, parents need to be more aware and Jane your story needed to be told.

Some women wind up with STD’S, AIDS, and other communicable diseases some just give up. Jane chose to stand tall and look herself in the mirror and be able to realize she is special, she counts and most of all deserves the admiration of so many for telling this amazing first hand account of what happens when you have to do anything to survive. Told in narrative form and told with heart and soul this book deserves

Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine

Read Proglogue ofRea Santa Muerte, Book One of The Daniela Story by Lucina Stone FREE November 20 to November 24!

purchase on Amazon.com

Spring 2008

EMMA DELGADO WAS PACKING HER suitcase. It was her final night in her childhood home before moving from Mexico to the United States. Mother was not pleased with her recent choices or future plans, but they had come to an agreement. Emma would be released from her arranged marriage if she consummated with the man her mother had chosen. Why Mother would insist on Emma having sex with the guy was beyond her understanding. Perhaps her mother thought she was confused, and the one night would change her mind. Mother had been conjuring up strange requests since birth. Emma did her best to appease her, but there was no way she was getting out unscathed.

Emma no longer cared. She would get it over with and leave. It would be like ripping off a bandage or some other cliché—the sooner it was over, the better.

Emma had come out to her mother and refused the marriage last year. She was in love with Monica, her girlfriend since freshman year at Drew University. They wanted to get married, and there was nothing Mother could do about it.

The meaningless sex would allow Emma the freedom she always longed for, without her mother’s guilt hanging heavily in the shadows. Mother had promised this would be the last thing she ever asked of her. 

It’s tradition. Your duty. What will your aunts think? This is part of our culture.

The statements rotated repeatedly on the conveyer belt of her mind. Maybe the distance—a whole different country—would free Emma, and help her move on from all these “traditions.”

Emma packed the last of her belongings—Tibetan prayer beads and the amethyst necklace Mother had given her for protection. She took a long look at her room and closed the door behind her.  She could hear her family outside in the large garden; they were whispering, and Emma could feel their anticipation.

This time of year, Merida was full of flowers. Lilies and gardenia and plumeria trees were in full bloom. The rainy season had ended and the air smelled sweet with the prospect of a new life within her grasp. Emma tried to focus on that as she walked outside to join the clan and meet the mystery man she had heard about since she was eight years old. Her thoughts were on Monica—who could never find out what Emma had to do to earn her freedom. Monica would never understand. Emma had given up on explaining her family dynamics and beliefs by sophomore year.
The garden was Emma’s favorite place. Her family grew a variety of lush plants that created a sense of harmony and connection with nature. It was her retreat. Emma could hear the bees busy pollinating all the blossoms in a sort of organized frenzy. Usually the beauty of the garden made it difficult for her eyes to decide what to savor first, but now all she saw was him. Emma’s mother greeted her and walked her over to the man, who was with three of Emma’s aunts. He was tall and attractive, with all the grace and charm of a movie star. He smiled softly at Emma. If Emma had been attracted to men, he would have been it. She felt her cheeks flush when he looked at her. His eyes were amber and warm. To make this task easier, Aunt Lola handed her a glass of Xtabentun, a Mayan love potion. Emma declined it. She wouldn’t need it.

“What time is your flight?” he asked. The tone of his voice was smooth and soothing, like honey on a spoon dipped in hot tea.
He smelled delectable, triggering a flood of pheromones as he moved closer. His voice made Emma weak at the knees. She cleared her throat. “Uh, it’s at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.” Emma looked down at her hands. She felt her stomach flutter.

“Good. That gives us just enough time.” He arched his eyebrow and stared at her. He extended his hand, and she readily took it. He escorted her to the casita. The small house was set up for their privacy. Emma’s family took the hint and left them alone, retreating eagerly to the big house to chat privately and imagine their own version of what was to come.

Emma could hear her heart pound in her ears as he closed the door behind them. She had never been with a man before; never had the desire to. But something about this man provoked all manner of lust. Emma felt deeply ashamed to be unfaithful to her girlfriend. Before she met him, it was just an act to get through. It was her duty. It was to cleanse her future of familial guilt. But now, with the way he was staring at her….
Obligations are not supposed to be fun. At least, Emma had thought that was the rule up to this point.

* * *

EMMA SAT IN ROW 37, seat F, in the 747, grateful no one was next to her. Every few minutes, she had to shift in her seat. Her body was sore; everything hurt. She didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. Her world was upside down; she had spent the entire night making love to a man she would never see again.

Now, she had to face Monica. Emma decided she needed to tell her.

“Damn it, Mother!” she hissed to herself. This was exactly what her mother wanted.

Ben Wheatley reflects on shooting Meg 2: 'It was like a wild fever dream!'

Ben Wheatley feels as if shooting 'Meg 2' was a "wild-fever" dream.

The 51-year-old director is at the helm of the action film that follows the research team on an exploratory dive into the deepest depths of the ocean and admitted it has been nice to have some "distance" from it in the run-up to the release.

He told Empire Magazine: "I feel like it's nice to have some distance from it, but it also feels like a wild fever dream now. It was a big chunk of time. It was two-and-a-half years, or something, I was on it for, all in all."

In terms of shooting the underwater scenes, Ben went on to explain that it was a really bizarre" world to try to bring to the screen, even though there was no actual filming that took place underwater.

He said: "Huge swathes of the movie are set in and around the Mariana Trench, and you have this really bizarre, pulpy, sci-fi world. But you didn't actually go underwater, so that must have been an interesting challenge. There was some underwater shooting, inside of air locks and stuff filling with water, and then a lot of Statham swimming about underwater. You couldn't do that in CG because the body reacts in a different way. But the dry for wet along the trench, no-one thought for a single second of doing it for real. There's no Nolan-ing about on The Meg, you know. To film down that depth would have been suicide, and we would still be filming it now, having replaced half of our cast through several difficult legal battles.

Before transitioning into directing cinmatic films, Ben had a career in directing advertisments and recalled that scheduling was one of the biggest challenges of the whole thing and struggled to "keep his nerve" throughout the process.

He added: "I had another life as an ads director. And I'd worked on shows with a lot of effects, so that side of it wasn't too daunting. But the challenge of it is the weird scheduling. You have to make decisions that are impossible to change six months beforehand. So you're making decisions on things and it's getting delivered back to you and you look at it and go, 'Oh, that's what I was thinking back then'. and if you want to change your mind it's a lot of frowning faces because it's very expensive. So keeping your nerve doing that is quite difficult.

via Killeen Daily Herald

AMAZON E-Book GIVEAWAY November 13 - 17! What They're Saying About Ken Atchity's Sell Your Story to Hollywood

Available on Amazon
The #1 Writer's Pocket Guide to the Business of Show Business by Kennetth Atchity.
Through the expanding influence of the Internet and the corporatization of both publishing and entertainment, the process of getting your book to the big screen has gotten more complicated, more eccentric, and more exciting.⁠
This little book aims to help you figure out how to get your story told on big screens or small. ⁠
Maren R, Reviewer

Full of information but still easy to read! If you want to start screen writing -even if it snot the rather lofty goal of becoming a Hollywood writer- this book will tell you how you could actually manage it!

Cristie U, Reviewer

This is a helpful and honest guide as to how to get your book made into a movie or tv show. It seems like it would be easier now because of the internet, but the author points out how difficult it still is and how to ensure your book gets into the right hands.

Terri D, Reviewer

Sell Your Story to Hollywood is a quick guide to getting your story into the hands of those who make things happen in Hollywood. The author Kenneth Atchity speaks from experience with decades working in Hollywood to get stories from the page to the screen. Although every guide about breaking into Hollywood should be viewed through the lens of how small the odds really are, this book starts out a bit discouraging for those who are truly interested in learning what they can do to move from a novel to a produced screenplay. The first step in getting this done, according to this book? Have an international bestseller. Okay. Not everyone can do that. Step 2: get reviewed by the NYT or other prestigious publication. Um... if a writer had that, they probably wouldn't need this book. While some of these initial steps are not quite what you would consider actionable advice for getting your screenplay produced, the book does move toward more actionable steps that you can take, though the guide does assume that you have a great story to tell with either an impeccably written novel or screenplay. As a writer with scripts but no connections to the industry, the parts of this book that I found most helpful were actual Appendix B and Appendix C. Writers at any stage can probably find something useful to take away from this guide to use in pursuing their own Hollywood career.

Reviewer 428382

Informative and well written, this is a guide that ever writer should read. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. 

pamula f, Reviewer

Hollywood buys stories all of the time. Sometimes they buy a story that started out as a small article in a hometown newspaper. This book will show you how to get your writing out there for the world to see.

Steven M, Reviewer

I’ve recently completed a screen writing course and was delighted to have been approved for this ARC. The author clearly knows his stuff and offers an insight into the world of scriptwriting for movies. A perfect introduction to a world that some of us can only dream of.

Librarian 121315

Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself that you can come up with a better story? Or have you ever been inspired by a movie to tell a story of you own? For either of those cases, this is one of the books that you must read. I said one of the books because there are other books that can also stir you in the right direction; nevertheless, this book will certainly give you a good start. I loved that the author offers real life examples of movies that we have heard or watched before making the book’s contents more relatable to the readers. This is a great introduction to the business of movie making and readers should feel more comfortable with this subject after studying this book.

Nancy Nigrosh Inteviewed on Lori Shefa & Garen van de Beek's RM 15 Creative podcast!

Think you know what it takes to become a successful writer in Hollywood?

The Answer may surprise you! 

Nancy Nigrosh spent 23 years as a Hollywood literary agent representing world-class directors, writers, and authors.

Auctioning scripts for seven figures, she secured huge paydays for her studio writers. Nancy sold memoirs by Olivia Newton-John, Deborah Harry, and Holly Robinson-Peete. She brokered film and television rights for books by bestselling author Jodi Picoult, “Legally Blonde” author Amanda Brown, and many more. Nancy’s writers and directors earned nominations and wins at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, WGA Awards, Emmys, DGA Awards, SAG Awards, BAFTA Awards, The Peabody Award, and Independent Spirit Awards. Her clients’ films enjoyed White House screenings and highest major festival honors, including Cannes’ Palm D’Or, SXSW, Telluride, Berlin, Venice, Toronto, and Sundance.

Nancy’s featured clients include Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, Collateral), Leslye Headland (Russian Doll), and Luke Davies (News of the World, Lion).

As a performance coach, Nancy brings the deep expertise of an industry insider to emerging authors and screenwriters. She helps her coaching clients ferret out self-defeating behaviors, maximize their strengths, and develop a greater understanding of how they can best represent themselves in their quest for agency representation.

Nancy’s coaching clients learn about the inside community of artistic and executive gatekeepers and how to become visible to them, becoming educated about the multiple forces that drive the business of entertainment and publishing.

Check out Nancy Nigrosh's Consulting 

Robert Rivenbark on Filled Up Cup Podcast wth Ashley Cau

Ashley: I am very excited tonight. I have Robert Rivenbark joining me. He is an author, storyteller, and screenwriter. Thank you so much for being here.

Robert: It’s wonderful to be with you, Ashley. I’m honored and feel very privileged.

A: Oh, thank you so much. Can you let the listeners know a little bit about your background?

R: Yes. I was born in the peach state, Georgia. I grew up there and when I was in my early twenties, I won a scholarship to study in Britain, through Antioch university and was over there for a couple of years in Oxford, in London where I earned my master’s in creative writing. When I came back after that, I lived, in Palo Alto, California for several years. Then moved to Miami, Florida. I worked as a journalist and an advertising copywriter. But my great love has always been storytelling. And I’ve been doing that actually since I was in the sixth grade when my homeroom and English teacher, Mrs. Lee made me the program chairman and I wrote and directed three plays. They were all terrible imitations of horror movies that I liked back then, but it gave me a sense that I could be a storyteller. And to this day, I have been looking for Mrs. Lee to thank her for that because she changed my life.

A: Well, shout out to Ms. Lee. I’m always so grateful for the teachers who end up being such powerful influences on us, whether they realized it or not. Can you let me know how you got the idea for your novel, the cloud?

Inspiration Came In Many Forms

R: There were three influences. One was the fact that I survived the great recession in LA from 2007 to 2015. Those were very tough years. So I had a lot of experience to draw from. Also, I was in a relationship there with a lady who I adored very much, but the relationship didn’t work out. So when I started writing the novel, I decided to split her into two characters, the female protagonist and the fatal. And then the third big influence was when I got back to Atlanta, I worked for a fortune 500 commercial real estate company. I was their senior copywriter and video producer. I discovered after I’d been there a while that when they said they were building cities of the future in 75 countries, What they meant was that they were building cities of the future for the top 10% in 75 countries. The future for the other 90% looked pretty grim so I got very emotionally invested in that idea. I started reading a great number of futurists because I began to be concerned about what the future might look like. While I was working for that company, I happened to get the privilege of writing a series of articles about the city of the future. I interviewed Dr. Andrea Chegut who is the chair of the MIT real estate innovation lab. She has eight doctoral candidates who are writing dissertations as we speak about the technologies of the future that we will see in cities. I mean, even beyond self-driving cars and automated parking decks we’re talking about technologies like skyscrapers on treads that can be rolled aside to make room for new cityscape things of that kind. And then I also while I was at the company, I worked in a department that was creative and we all went as a group to the Adobe met show in Las Vegas, where they premiered all of the coming computer technology. As a part of that, they gave a presentation on the latest, greatest virtual reality technology. This was the kind of virtual reality that you had to wear a helmet to experience, but they flashed what you would see up on a gigantic theater size screen, so you could experience it. But what they said was that in 15 to 20 years, that technology is going to evolve to the point where it becomes total immersion. Meaning when you’re watching a movie or a TV show, you’re gonna be inside the drama, it will be happening all around you. So I took all of those things and blended them in my imagination to come up with a potential dystopian vision of the future.

The story I eventually wrote is kind of a spiritual descendant of the novel slide brave new world, 1984, the Handmaid’s tale. That kind of thing. It’s about what could potentially happen here in this world. If we continue to pursue the planet’s misguided application of technologies and mismanagement of people and things of that kind. I decided that I wanted to give readers hope after taking them through a very perilous journey. The male and female protagonists are trying to overthrow a corrupt regime that controls half the world and it’s the power of their love that allows them to achieve victory and also to personally evolve themselves. I was also very influenced by the philosophy of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin he was a paleontologist and a Jesuit priest who worked on paleontological teams in the early to the mid-20th century. The teams, he worked on discovered some of the key missing links that helped to prove the theory of evolution. And despite the fact that he was one of the people who helped to prove that theory, he took a very positive spin on the notion of evolution you know, traditional microbiologists and astronomers will say yes, the universe is evolving, but it’s not evolving toward anything. Eventually, you reach the point where entropy sets in and the whole thing breaks down.

Then there’s another big bang Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. On the other hand, developed this concept of the omega point. He believed that humanity is slowly evolving over the eons. And he wrote in the great book about the origin of life on earth, that from his point of view, there is a kind of primitive consciousness, even in single-celled organisms. By the time you reach the stage of humanity, you have a much deeper inner experience. He thinks the entire race will eventually evolve to an evolutionary endpoint where all human beings have the mindset of Jesus Christ and Sidha Agama Buddha. So that was kind of my hope in writing this book. I also read the darker side of, the future. There was a book I drew heavily from, by Yuval Noah Harari. He wrote a book called Homo Deus, a brief history of tomorrow in which he says the great struggle and quest of the top 1% in the 21st century will be the search for personal immortality in this world. He claims in his book that several key world shakers in Silicon Valley are already investing many millions of dollars into developing this. The idea being that eventually, the top 1% will have biotechnology, organ reversal disease, reversal, and organ renewal technology to make it possible for them to live forever. They can rejuvenate their bodies, the other 99%. Won’t be so lucky according to this prediction. So I had that counterbalance with Teilhard de Chardin’s very positive philosophy that was kind of the Genesis of the book. I think it’s a page-turner. I think it does to some extent, capture the zeitgeist, addresses the concerns of a lot of us now, you know, things like what are what’s gonna global warming? Are we going to be able to reverse it or are we going to be able to beat it or is the entire Earth going to become a lifeless desert through, Hadley cell desertification?


A: It’s terrifying. Can you tell everybody listening what The Cloud is about?

R: I kind of expanded on the idea of present-day VR by having the characters in this empire called The Cloud. They each have a Silicon chip over their third eye. That Silicon chip allows them to receive propaganda 24 7 from a voice called the cloud monitor. That’s reinforcing the fact that you live in the greatest empire that ever was, we are so much better than any former government and the world is meant to be ruled by men and not women because I have in the backstory of the novel that in North America, we achieved a matriarchy for a while and it undid a lot of the harm that men have done over the past several thousand years. But then the caliphate attacked and destroyed several North American cities and the cloud, which was an outgrowth of The communist Chinese regime, but headquartered in Hong Kong, took advantage of that to come in and take over North America and all of Asia. So that’s how the cloud empire came to be.

So, my protagonist, whose name is Blaze Pascal, the seventh, and the female protagonist Christina Soon, who is a Chinese American are fighting very hard to try to bring about the downfall of this regime. Blaze is the best virtual reality programmer in the business. His virtual reality series had been the hottest out there, and he has also been refining virtual reality technology even further so that you can not only be in. The virtual reality movie and, or series that you’re binging with. But you experience all of the physical sensations and you had to be very careful to program it in such a way that you didn’t do actual physical harm to yourself, but you could experience everything just like it’s really happening. Now. What happens is his boss, Man Shing, who’s aiming to take over and become the chairman of the board of the cloud in Hong Kong wants to use that technology to annihilate the underclass who are known as slags and he enlists blaze to develop a virtual reality delivered a drug called panema, which enchants people to the point where they lose interest in everything else and just let themselves starve the death. The cloud military can come in and haul away the corpses to these huge geodesic domes that are being built in every major city and that way the cloud can thin out the population, they also plan to use it as a weapon against the caliphate whom they are constantly at war with. Christina soon is part of a covert hacker movement that is headquartered in a cavern under the desert in what used to be Arizona which is presently just a wasteland and they have built a hidden city down there. This movement has actually been selling nanobot technology to the caliphate to build this civilization. But their ultimate plan is to overthrow the cloud and reboot civilization and reestablish the matriarchy. That’s the goal of, Christina and her fellow hackers. Blaze is ultimately recruited by them and becomes an agent of them. I won’t tell you anymore, cause I don’t wanna spoil the ending but, I think it’s a pretty interesting story that will engage people and keep them turning pages. I should mention that my literary manager Ken Atchity a gentleman who I say a prayer of gratitude for every day,

A: I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting him.

R: Oh, he’s just amazing. I’m just in awe of him and he changed my life because I happened to win a literary award for my novel in 2019, the 27th annual San Antonio writer’s Guild competition. I won first place in the science fiction category.

A: Congratulations on that, by the way.

R: Oh, thank you so much. I had no clue that I was even gonna place or anything. I was so delighted when it happened, but I worked with a book editor, Elizabeth Lyle, who is one of the greatest book editors in the United States and she edited the first draft. She said, okay, you’ve won this competition. I want you to order Jeff Herman’s guide to literary managers, agents, and publishers. I want you to do mass mailings 20 at a time. I want you to query 20 agents at a time and keep doing it. I don’t care. If you have to do a thousand, you keep doing it and you develop a thick hide and somebody’s gonna pick up your option. I did my first mass mailing to 20 agents and Ken Atchity emailed me back the same day and said, could you please send your whole novel as a PDF? I don’t want sample chapters. I want the whole book. So I sent it to him three weeks later, and he called me and said, hi, this is Kim Atchity. I don’t know if you remember, but. I’m a literary manager and producer in Hollywood. And I love your novel. I think it’s a hit and I would like to sign you to an exclusive contract,

A: Which is amazing. It’s always so funny as if you would forget that somebody had asked for your work,

R: Well, I really didn’t sleep much. Those three weeks, you know, hoping, but Ken took me on and over the last three years, he and his script doctors and his producer partners put me through the long agonizing process of overhauling my novel seven times, I’m talking about from the ground up,

A: This does sound like it would be a page Turner, something that has a little bit for everybody. I really do love that it has, that love always wins, message in there ultimately while we live in a world where we’re so divided and there are so many things that we debate about and we don’t always find those things, that’ll connect us. I think that is a beautiful message to share, was it challenging at all to take a book that you had written by yourself and now turn it into a collaborative process with the whole team?

R: Ken and his partners and the script doctors that work with him are very, very good at what they do. When they asked for edits, they always had a reason for it. I could see the wisdom of making the change, which is nice. So what happened was that the book just got better. I was making the characters even, more deeply developed and it just got better and better and better.

A: Yeah. It is nice to have that ego taken out of it and really know that you are all creating something together instead of having that fear of it. It not becoming yours anymore.

Photo by fauxels

Collaboration Was Key

R: Well, absolutely. I still feel like it’s mine, but I was just so happy to be able to collaborate with people who are so brilliant, so talented, and, so good at what they do and who also understand the art of storytelling on a very deep level. Cause they have been themselves writing and, or producing and or publishing novels and screenplays for decades. Ken has been doing it for four decades and he’s very, very good at what he does. He has a Ph.D. from Yale. He studied Latin Greek and was able to study the Iliad and the Odyssey in Palmer, Greek. He can read and speak those languages. So the perspective he brought to this story was to say, okay, now I’m gonna show you things. That you did it instinctively by drawing from the collective unconscious, but I want to just put it in a clearer context for you mythologically. These are the kind of mythical themes that you were drawing from as you were writing this. It was a revelation. I mean, the more I worked with him, the more I could see that, there’s nothing to be afraid of here. There’s nothing to be resistant to this man is a visionary and he’s just helping me to draw out and make it more explicit, but is already implicit in what I’ve written. As a result of that, I think I’ve got a very fine piece of work that I’m very proud of and very happy to bring to the world. I think as you said a moment ago, it does have something for everybody.

One aspect I love about it is that we’ve all been through a cultural revolution since 2018 when the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and the whole woke movement started, which was an absolute necessity. We had to do that. Women have every right to be angry at the treatment they’ve gotten from people like him and others. So I supported it a hundred percent, but at the same time, it’s been a difficult transition because now men and women very often are very angry with each other. The fact of the matter is I think we were created to love each other and honor each other and support and nurture each other. And collaborate and grow and evolve together. So I have that kind of hard-earned relationship. I have the male protagonist first being very tempted by the offer of personal immortality in this world. Also being tempted by the femme fatale I have great love and empathy for her, but she’s a very troubled individual who is trying to use him for her own end, because she wants to move up in the cloud herself. But ultimately he’s brought together with Christina, and that makes all the difference for both of them. I even have a beautiful rebirth sequence where they’re being pursued by airships that are trying to kill them. They’re in the desert fleeing. This laser beam opens a chasm and they fall into it. They’re under the earth and they find in this cavern, there’s just enough light for them to see that there are these ancient Indian hieroglyphics, which are based on something I actually saw in the valley of fire and Nevada.

A: Oh, cool.

R: Yeah, these are ancient Navajo petroglyphs, I think they’re called. I have them down in this cave and while they’re down there, they have their rescue kits and they heal each other’s wounds. They literally treat the abrasions, cuts, and bruises that they have for each other. That is a sequence in which their love for each other grows even deeper. They manage to escape. Through a very narrow passage. I didn’t recognize it until Ken pointed it out. But when they’re escaping from this womb-like cave and emerging in the daylight, it’s in a sense like emerging from a mother’s womb and they emerge from it reborn with all of the resources they need to ultimately triumph.

Drawing From Current Events

A: Which is a really beautiful metaphor, really with the state of even where we are at now, where we all are kind of stuck in this, bubble or womb of, yes, we’re more woke, which is fantastic, but we’re also sort of stuck in this cancel culture generation where we see things very black and white, and we don’t wanna give, men or women or anybody room to grow and change. To be able to have that birth of acceptances and that connection piece of just knowing that, you know, Harvey Weinstein again should have been canceled and totally different. But for the majority of us, when we’re making simple mistakes, it shouldn’t be, and then that’s it, it really should be like, okay, well I realized I messed up and now I’m gonna do better.

R: Well, I think that that’s something we need very much in our culture now, because of all the reasons you just articulated and so eloquently. Thank you. And also, because if we’re going to survive as a race, we have got to find ways to care about each other and to come together and find solutions to these. Appalling the problems we’re facing now, we’ve got the environmental crisis. We’ve got a terrible war in Ukraine. We’ve got really intense political and economic competition between China and the United States. Here in the United States, we are so bitterly divided politically, it’s almost impossible not to be forced into one of the extremist camps. You’ve got kind of like the CNN universe and the Fox news universe. Those people are pulled into those camps. Find it next to impossible to have any kind of meaningful dialogue with someone from the opposite camp.

A: Yeah. There’s no, in the middle anymore. It really is. You’re either left or you’re right.

R: You’re either left or right. And the fact of the matter is reality’s a heck of a lot more complicated and messy than that. As you just pointed out a moment ago, human beings are a lot more complicated and messy and yes, we all make terrible mistakes. And we do hurtful things to people. Sometimes it’s the people we love the most that we hurt the most deeply, but we also have, and I’m gonna side with Teilhard de Chardin here. We have the capacity to evolve within ourselves and to actually become reborn, in this life. If we’re willing to do the hard work of facing up to our own very human flaws and come to terms with what Carl Young called. Our shadow side that’s, those instincts that come out of the reptilian brain and that’s where things like violence and war and a lot of negative human traits originate. If we can come to terms with that and make peace with it and use the incredible resources we have as human beings to reach past our past mistakes and liberate ourselves from what’s happened in the past, because the reality is the past is an illusion. It doesn’t exist anymore. The only thing that exists is right now, this moment, you and me talking this instant, this is what’s real right now. There’s enormous potential for what can clump out of right now. What I’m hoping is that my novel will be cathartic for people. They’ll go through the shadow side with the characters and the story, but at the end of it, they come out into a new world of possibilities and these characters are actually spearheading the rebirth of civilization in their underground city.

How The Talk Of Trilogy Came To Be

A: I know that Ken is a producer. Are there any plans for this novel to become a movie or a TV show?

R: Ken convinced me to expand this into a novel trilogy. Cause he said, you’ve just scratched the surface. And I said, well, gosh, I had no idea of doing that. How would I do that? He says, just be patient and work with me. I’ll get you there. I worked for five months with him. He had me write little three-by-five index cards in long hand. He said I want you to. Trace the character arcs of all the major characters. I want you to do it on three-by-five index cards. I want it handwritten and it’s gotta be what you can squeeze into one side of an index card. He helped me through outlining the second and third novels. I’ve got that done now. I have that with my original book editor, Elizabeth Lyle. She’s looking at it and will come back with some wonderful suggestions on how to make it even better. And then I’ll be ready to write those two novels. In addition to that Ken, prevailed upon me to write a 60-minute pilot script for a series adaptation of The Cloud. And I did that again. I went through seven major rewrites with that and was able to somehow take the first four chapters and squeeze them into 50 pages of dialogue and description. We are marketing the novel on Amazon. We have a very brilliant gentleman, Sean Aversa who is an Amazon ad guru, and who’s gonna help us increase our sales and get more reviews. When we get a hundred reviews. Ken will then take it to all of the streaming services and cable networks that he has relationships with. I think we’re gonna have a series.

A: That is so exciting. It’s so mind-boggling to think of, where it started to really, the opportunities are endless and it’s so exciting that it’s going from one book to a trilogy. I think it would sound great as a TV show or as a movie or a movie series.

R: Well, thanks. I think so too, initially, Ken was thinking of this as the next Matrix trilogy and he had a producer partner that was interested in developing it that way. But as time went on Ken decided that it would probably be best to try to adapt it as a series for the simple reason that there are just so many opportunities. Now there are so many streaming services that are competing with each other. And they are hungry for content and science fiction is very hot these days. I stay on top of all of the series in that genre. I was, of course, a huge fan of Handmaid’s Tale and hoping that we’re gonna get a new season.

A: Did you see they dropped season five today?

R: Oh my goodness. I didn’t. But after this interview, I certainly will. I’m so thrilled to hear you say that. Cause I’ve been hoping and hoping that that was going to happen

A: I jumped on it a little bit late, but Handmaid’s tale is another one where you think it’s about one thing and then you start watching it and it really, really sucks you in

R: I have enormous admiration for Margaret Atwood. I think she is. A stunning literary genius. She can write in every genre, it was from her that I got the idea to call my novel speculative fiction, as opposed to science fiction. Cause she got very angry with critics who called the handmaid tale science fiction. She said, no, it is speculative fiction. I am dealing with things that could very possibly happen. You know, the Genesis of the Handmaid’s tale was in the late eighties. She was in west Germany. This was before the Berlin wall came down and she got the notion of, wow, it’s pretty awful that people leave Germany live under such an oppressive regime. What if in the United States there was a kind of puretin clandensense and a repressive male empire took over. What would that Be like, that’s where the handmaid tale came from. She’s also, by the way, written a sequel to that. It’s very good as well. ,

A: It is terrifying because it really isn’t that hard to imagine that becoming a reality, especially in the last couple of years and sort of seeing how easy it is for people to kind of jump into this maybe mob mentality of kind of everybody’s going this way. I’m just gonna sort of hop in line. So it is terrifying and, people of color have experienced that for generations and that had sort of been their existence. So it easily could be a history repeating itself moment, unfortunately.

R: I’ve had a lot of philosophical conversations with Ken, cause we’re both lovers of philosophy. He also loves Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Ken was raised Catholic and went to Jesuit high school. That’s where he initially learned Latin and Greek. And then he later got his doctorate from Yale. So he’s read Teilhard de Chardin and admires him very much, but we were talking about how tough it is to hang onto that ideal of the omega point. I said, well, you know, Ken, I’m gonna hang onto that. I’m gonna keep believing in it. But I think in addition to evolution, we also as a race go through periods of devolution. I think that’s, what’s happening to us now. We’re going through a period of devolution where primitive emotions and paranoia about the other quote, unquote have gripped the minds and hearts of a lot of people who are frightened because they don’t know what’s coming in the future. They’re afraid there may not be a future. And furthermore, if there is a future, they’re afraid they’re not gonna have any stake in it. So as you mentioned, a moment ago, people of color have had this experience for hundreds of years since the days of slavery right up until the present we’re a long way from Martin Luther Kings. I have a dream speech. We haven’t achieved that yet, but now it’s everybody, everybody is subject to being influenced by political demagogues. I don’t have to mention any names I’m talking about, but there are political demagogues out there. That are able to sense the instinctual needs and fears and desires and hatreds and prejudices of the masses. They know how to say what will appeal to people. They can get millions of people engaged in and seduced by their very repressive concepts and schools of thought. I think we’re gonna have to really fight hard, not to succumb to that kind of mentality in our country, because if we do, we’re gonna lose our democracy.

Photo by Miriam Espacio

Technology has both the power to connect and disconnect

A: The fantastic thing about technology is that we do have the ability to connect with people that we would’ve never connected with. We do have access to this information, but on the flip side, we have access to so much information and there are so many different messages coming. I do feel like maybe in the eighties or the nineties, I don’t remember ever watching the news and going, oh, that’s a Democrat or, oh, that’s a Republican. The news was just the news where now, like we had kind of talked about, you definitely know what side CNN is on and you definitely know what side Fox is on. Everybody wants to be first. They don’t necessarily wanna be right. And there’s this pressure to be very like click batey that it’s like the information that we’re getting is very loud, but, is it accurate? And is it truthful? And is it to benefit us all of these, negative messages and harsh things are coming at us all the time I think. It does create that division. And it does create that fear and it doesn’t necessarily benefit us, but it’s like at the same time, who’s gonna not, scroll their smartphone or, however, you’re getting your media, there’s not a lot of ways to avoid it, but it definitely over complicates life.

R: Well, it does. The fact is that the growth of social media has brought us wonderful things. I mean, I have about 4,200 Facebook friends from all over the world and we’re pleasantly chatting and getting to know each other and exchanging ideas and teaching each other about our cultures. I love that part of it, but, on the other hand, there’s this kind of atomization. Of consciousness, where if you have been pulled in by one of the demagogues there are websites and podcasts and other venues that will feed you a steady stream of that kind of propaganda, 24 7. It’s presented in a way that arouses primitive emotions and it completely eclipses the possibility of bringing any critical thinking skills to the process. There’s no rationality, it’s like a rant, parking back to the days of Adolf Hitler, who used to do speeches that were rants and he would get people into states of ecstasy and willingness to do whatever he. Said they should do. And we, unfortunately in the social media age have a lot of those kinds of voices out there. And as you said, in the eighties and nineties, you had balanced journalism. If you were a broadcast journalist and, or anchorwoman, you were expected to present both sides of the story and let the viewer make up his or her mind. That’s become a thing of the past in many ways. Now broadcast news has become much more like entertainment. You’ve got enormous followings on, you know, CNN and Fox. And of course, other channels figure into this as well. Those are just, I think the two prime examples, but it’s not easy to. Find anybody willing to present the news in a balanced way. It’s more like an opportunity to reinforce the prejudices that are already in place. I was just at a gathering last night with some friends and we were talking about issues like this. Several people commented that it’s so hard to find anybody willing to learn from someone who has an opposing point of view. I don’t know if you were in high school, but we used to have the debate club. Yep. Very often you would take the opposing arguments position, and argue it as forcefully as you could just in order to refine your thinking so that you increase your critical thinking capacity. And eventually, maybe you do change the way you perceive things and it’s not a reaction formation anymore. It’s actually part of your mental, emotional, and spiritual evolution.

A: That piece is missing so much. That piece of this is the way I saw it. You’ve provided me with different information. Maybe there’s room for my thought process to grow, or maybe, I was wrong. I feel like people just don’t wanna admit that anymore. I feel like if we were just our examples of CNN or Fox, I think it would become down to like petty name-calling versus actually being able to share intelligent debate.

R: I couldn’t agree with you more. And in The Cloud, my novel, I kind of have taken that present reality and extrapolated from that to envision a terrifying potential future. I hope I’m wrong. It won’t turn out this way in which each person has a silicone chip implanted over the third eye and they’re getting propaganda from the ruling regime 24 7. The only time you’re allowed to turn it down is when you’re at work. Otherwise, it’s blasting you all the time and it’s also promoting these very. Primitive virtual reality movies and series allow you to do anything you want. You can have any sexual experience you want, you can murder people. You can express all of your primitive instincts in a way where you’re completely safe, but you’re in an environment where you can do anything you want to someone else. , I’m hoping that we as a country and as a race will evolve past this, I do think we have the potential to do it, but we’re just gonna have to work hard to make it happen because the stakes are so high. Now we can’t afford to indulge ourselves in this endless bickering with each other and this opposition in arm camps, because we’ve got mutual problems to solve. We’ve got global warming to solve. We’ve got the class struggle that’s going on in our own country where it’s getting increasingly difficult for someone who’s not from a wealthy family to go to a college education. If we get to a point where only rich people get to go to college, then essentially we’re gonna have a kind of medieval regime where you have the upper class and you have everybody else. There are also, the great political struggles that are going on in the war and Ukraine the ambitions of Putin to try to conquer a Eurasian empire. As a race, if we want to survive, we’re gonna have to figure out a way to cooperate. We just can’t be a collection of warring camps, nor can we afford to succumb to the kind of regime that I dramatize in my novel, where there are basically two oppressive, patriarchal regimes, a cloud, and a caliphate that are struggling for dominance, and they’re trying to destroy each other and are oppressing their own populations and trying to destroy the underclass.

Learning from our past to build a better future

A: When we know better, we should do better. We should have learned from all of the past experiences, whether it’s concentration camps, any of the horrific things that have already happened to humanity that it’s like in the, you know, two thousand, we shouldn’t be, locking people up at the border. We shouldn’t have, the race riots that we’re still having or setting, current women back to fewer rights than our great grandmothers had, or, fighting with the, don’t say gay, and fighting with trans rights and all of these things that kind of create so much noise, but it’s like, we should give everybody the rights that they deserve and then move forward instead of trying to roll back history and basically repeat the things that we didn’t do right the first time.

R: I couldn’t agree with you more and I love to quote Martin Boer. One of my favorite philosophers wrote a wonderful book called I and Thou in English we only have, the word you in current usage, but we used to have the word thou and that was the familiar form of you. This book I and Thou is about the concept that normally we see other human beings as its we see them as beings that we want to get something from, we wanna get money from them, or we want to get sex from them, or we want to get power from them. But when we can say Thou that’s when we experience another human being, as someone who is as real to us as we are to ourselves, we do have that potential. I’m sure you can think of plenty of examples of people who embody that ideal and do wonderful things with their lives. I think all of us can do it, but it means that we have to have the courage to evolve past these primitive hatreds and prejudices. There are times of devolution, like right now, when unfortunately as you said, we’ve taken a huge step back, like a Supreme court that over through Roe versus Wade I never in my life thought that there was any possibility that Roe versus Wade could be reversed. It’s just horrifying to think about that. Now we live in a country where. What is it? 20 states have these trigger laws, banning all abortions, and it’s gonna be fine for, you know rich people. Yeah. It’s gonna be fine for girls and women that are from the upper class. They can go to a different state. But what about all of the working-class girls and women who can’t afford to do that? Are they expected to just have unwanted children? Because for a lot of them, once that happens, that’s it, that’s their life. There is no escape and we can do so much better.

A: Well, and the sad thing is that it’ll lead to, so many deaths too, there are so many horror stories of women that had etopic pregnancies, which essentially would never leave their fallopian tubes. There’s no possibility of it ever being a baby, which for some of those women I’m sure is devastating because they weren’t necessarily all unwanted pregnancies, but these women are dying because doctors don’t know, where the legalities of everything that falls in. So unless they’re literally dying before lawyers will say, yay, or nay, it really is so frustrating and devastating.

R: It is. I’ve been reading a lot of articles and blogs trying to tease my way through the current. State of things after Roe versus Wade. And it’s hard to understand. I’ve seen doctors interviewed online and on TV talking about, I just wanna give good care. And right now I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I could have someone come into my emergency room and I’ve gotta act now cause they have to get an abortion or they’re gonna die. And for that, I might get a 20-year prison sentence. That’s insane. It’s, we’ve got better than that. As a culture, we’ve got to grow up and recognize that women are as precious and dear, and vital to human enterprises as men are. Stop trying to legislate. How they should lead their lives and make decisions about their own bodies. We don’t need to put the government in control of it. That should be a personal decision. I guess ultimately I’m an optimist. I hope my novel inspires a lot of people to think through a lot of these kinds of issues. Hopefully, they’ll be moved by the story and motivated to want to learn more and to do more, to try to push the human enterprise toward the omega point.

Getting in touch with Robert

A: I think it’s so beautiful that that’s the intention that you’re trying to put out. I really do hope that it does inspire lots of people that read it. If somebody is looking for your book, where can we find it?

R: It’s on amazon.com. It’s The Cloud by Robert Rivenbark. It’s now available to order I’m hoping to get a lot of dialogue going between people from all over the world and learn and grow from all the people I’m going to meet. And those who have read the book, and have strong feelings about it, whether it’s positive or negative. I mean, even if they don’t like it, I want to hear.

A: Thank you so much for having this conversation with me today.

R: Well, thank you for having me, Ashley, it meant so much to me. You’re just a delightful person.