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The Alchemist Agenda
was conceived nearly five years ago, though it was just recently
hatched. Its long gestation was not only the result of a slow author,
but rather a fast changing environment that is transforming how we
produce and receive content in the digital age.
I am a filmmaker and had first imagined The Alchemist Agenda as a movie. I wanted to set the action and romance in visually striking locations that I had filmed in and wanted to return to, envisioning a big budget tent-pole franchise with ongoing adventures in the vein of Jason Bourne or James Bond.
the harsh reality of how difficult it is to get something of that scope
made these days set in. Movie studios are making fewer and fewer movies
every year, and nearly all of the big ones are based on pre-existing
material with built-in audiences such as graphic novels, (Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman), novels (Hunger Games, World War Z), TV shows (Star Trek), theme parks (Pirates of the Caribbean),
even video games (Resident Evil). And since I can’t draw, design a
video game, or build a ride, the novel was my only option. All I’d have
to do was write one (something I had never done), then find someone to
publish it, market it, and sell a few million copies (something I had no
idea how to do).
I didn’t worry about such things. I had written several screenplays,
short stories, and articles, and I was excited and challenged by the
prospect of my first book; the bigger canvas would allow me to delve deeper into the story’s characters and plot complexities. And so I went to town.
ultimately proved to be an amazing experience, the writing that is,
until I had to face the harsh realities of distribution once again: I
had no idea what to do with a book, where to take it, or how to shop
it—so I stuffed it in my desk drawer and forgot about it. Sort of.
still couldn’t stop thinking that it would make a great movie. So I
sent the screenplay version to Amazon Studios, Amazon’s new film and TV
division, and they optioned it (which means that they pay for the rights
to develop and make the movie). Over the next two years, I worked with
them on several rewrites, and even produced a feature length motion
comic for their unique development process. And because of the publicity
the project received, a publisher contacted me to suggest that it would
make a terrific novel. I told him that I would get right on it, and
emailed him the manuscript five minutes later. Sometimes timing is
than ever, people like having choices in how they digest their
entertainment, to read, listen, or watch; Cineplex or stage; print or
pad; comic book or animated; audio book or large print; 3D or live.
Storytellers now have options to create and distribute content like
never before. Music software allows people who can’t play an instrument
to produce songs. Camera and editing equipment make filmmaking
affordable. And books can be self-published. The Internet opens the
doors to the world. This democratization of content, however, does make
it harder than ever to find a mass audience – and more likely to become a
lost needle in an ever expanding haystack.
former screenwriting teacher once said that it’s better to bring great
meaning to one person, than to leave the masses empty. That sentiment
stuck with me. But still, the old belief that size does matter came to
mind in two obvious ways. One, the bigger your audience, the more money
you make. And two, the bigger your… Actually, I can’t say number two in
mixed company, but I think it was that same screenwriting teacher who
also said that a character who acquires a lot of money in your story can
get the girl in lieu of number two, and vice versa.
don’t know if it matters what comes first – money or sex, novel or
screenplay, chicken or egg – but I do believe that it’s always good to
Join Marty Weiss, author of the thriller novel, The Alchemist Agenda, as he tours the blogosphere July 1 - September 27, 2013 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!
ABOUT THE ALCHEMIST AGENDA
Charlie Rocklin and his company Gold Diggers Exploration set out to
recover a 17th century shipwreck, they discover an undocumented Nazi
submarine with enigmatic symbols. Ariel Ellis, a femme fatale historian
with a mysterious past, proves that the U-boat contains the key to a
formula more valuable than any sunken treasure, and more deadly than any
weapon that has ever existed. In this globetrotting international
adventure, Charlie and Ariel uncover an accelerating tempest of secrecy,
lies, and agendas, fighting not only for the truth, but for their
lives. Weiss's debut novel is a lightning-paced story with surprises at
every turn, and shows us that our personal legends may be more real
than we ever could have imagined.
as Charlie turned off the shower, he heard the fall on the stairs, even
though his bathroom door had been closed and his office was set apart
from the others. Then everything went silent, unusually so. He
haphazardly dried, quickly put on his street clothes, made sure he
stuffed his wallet and his black book in his back pockets, the two
personal effects he only left behind when he was training, and then
secured the necklace with the crest around his neck, now the third item
he would no longer leave without.
He peered out into the hallway.
It was too quiet. Something was not right.
He walked into the lower level offices. Nothing out of place. Then he looked behind a table and saw:
Two dead bodies.
he moved through the offices, searching every turn and crevice until he
approached the staircase where the oceanographer’s body was sprawled on
shifted into stealth survival mode, quietly made his way to one of the
gear lockers, grabbed a dive knife, and crept to the next room.
and Luke hunted maniacally through the banks of computers and
equipment. But it was Ray who found the U-2008 bell up in Charlie’s
office, and moments later, the locked case beside the desk. He smiled
instantly because he had worked for a custom locksmith all through high
school, a job he had loved because it taught him how to crack similar
safe designs built to keep children from their parent’s firearms. It
didn’t take him sixty seconds to open this lock.
The Shackers’ orders were specific. They were told to find a nautical GPS and not to come back without it.
And there it was.
Ray moved into the computer room where Luke and Wade were searching and excitedly waved the nautical GPS. “I got it!”
Luke grabbed the device and looked it over. “You’re shitting me.”
“Let me see.” Wade tossed aside a computer he was searching through and went to join the other two, but a voice stopped him.
The three Shackers turned to see Charlie pointing an air-powered speargun. “Set it down on the table and drop your guns.”
almost laughed. He had been jumped, fired at, and held up by insurgents
with much more firepower, and hatred. He wasn’t about to allow this
freakin’ frogman get in his way. As Luke and Ray dropped their weapons,
Wade drew and fired.
Charlie dove for cover behind the shelving unit and crawled into the gear room to hide behind a rack of wet suits.
grabbed the bell and the GPS from Wade and packed them into the empty
pack he had strapped over his shoulder. “Fuck’m, we got what we came
“Orders were to leave nobody alive,” Wade objected. “Move it.”
Wade and Luke stormed into the gear room with their guns poised; Ray took his time, but trailed right behind.
They saw no one, but heard Charlie’s voice: “What the hell do you want?”
put his finger to his lips so that Luke and Wade wouldn’t open their
traps, then stalked slowly toward the direction of the voice. “Same
thing as you.”
was a long silence as Wade searched behind the racks of wetsuits, and
then Charlie dropped down from the storage shelves, knocked the gun out
of Wade’s hand and slammed him to the floor.
loved close combat—it was his forté—but Charlie didn’t give him the
chance to show it. He dropped a heavy steel dive tank on Wade’s face,
breaking his nose on impact and knocking him unconscious.
and Ray couldn’t fire their guns with Wade so close, so they charged
Charlie. He met them with a rapid flurry, shoving his elbow into Ray’s
gut and an upper cut into Luke’s chin, and then he tucked and rolled as
Luke’s gun fired, a shot that hit the back wall. Charlie reached for a
dive knife, sprung to his feet and threw it. It flew past Ray’s ear.
Charlie took cover on the floor and crawled toward an exit as Ray popped
off more shots.
burst outside into the alley. Someone was already there. Through the
sun in his eyes he could only make out a silhouetted figure approaching…
It was Wade, his face covered in blood from the dive tank, his gun in his hand.
There was nothing to duck behind. Everything went still.
And then came a shot.
When Charlie realized he hadn’t been hit, he turned and saw Ariel leaning on the hood of her car, just-fired gun in hand.
collapsed on the alley pavement, a bullet through his heart. He barely
had a moment to realize that this was his final battle, or to agonize
over the possibility that his father would learn that he had been
brought down by a woman, his final humiliation.
“I told you there wouldn’t be much time,” she said. “We have to get out of here!”
exit door swung open, but before Ray and Luke could scope the
perimeter, Ariel fired one more shot, which hit the steel door, and
forced them back inside.
“Gimme your keys.” Charlie approached with an open hand. “They’ll try to leave through the front entrance. We’ll cut them off—”
closed the keys in her fist and gestured to the passenger seat.
“There’s a lot more than those two to worry about. Get in.”
got inside the car, weighing his options, trying to think like a diver,
remaining calm and breathing steadily as Ariel sped the car out of the
“They got the nautical GPS,” Charlie said. “They can find the site.”
“You still have the crest?”
Charlie held the necklace under his shirt. “Yeah.”
“And you can find the sub without the GPS, right?”
“Right... Watch out!”
car tore out of another alley in front of them. Ariel skillfully
maneuvered and skid, missing them by inches, then took off in the other
The other car spun around and came after them. Ray was driving. Luke was riding shotgun as he fired a few useless rounds.
“Drive straight, would you?” Luke ordered.
“Your aim is for shit,” was all Ray could come back with.
chase sent them weaving through the office park and into a residential
area. Ariel remained cool as a cucumber as she turned onto a lawn and
through several backyards, like an obstacle course she knew well. She
picked up their conversation where she left off, just like she did with
her bi-weekly lectures: “Just because they can get to the U-boat doesn’t
mean they can get inside. The key isn’t easy to find and it’s not in
“The key? I thought you said there was a code,” Charlie said. “Is it a key or a code?”
explain everything, as long as we’re partners in this.” She turned onto
another street, and then glanced back to be sure she’d lost their
pursuers. “Are we partners?”
“I haven’t had the best luck with partners.”
“Maybe you should move on to something else then. Without the key, you’ll never get inside.”
“I don’t give up until I have all the answers.”
“That’s why we’re a perfect fit.”
She knew she had him; he knew he didn’t have a choice. “Where are we going?” he asked.
She turned onto the entrance ramp to the Turnpike. “Prague.”
“Just like that, without any tickets, passports, or luggage?”
“Just like that.”
She stepped on the gas and headed for John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Add to Goodreads:
ABOUT MARTY WEISS
Marty Weiss was born and raised in Chicago and decided that he wanted to make movies after spending a summer working on the set of John Hughes' movie "Sixteen Candles." After earning a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an M.F.A. in film and television from New York University, he directed national and international TV commercials for major Blue Chip brands as well as TV movies. He helmed his first feature film, "Vampires: The Turning," for Sony/Screen Gems Entertainment - an action/horror movie that evolved out of John Carpenter's "Vampires." It was filmed in Chiang Mai, Thailand and released worldwide in 2005. Weiss has filmed throughout North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and Southeast Asia, and has garnered numerous industry awards. His screen adaption of his debut novel, "The Alchemist Agenda," was the honored with the Best Screenplay award from Amazon Studios and is currently on their development slate for production. Weiss lives in Los Angeles with his wife Elisabeth and children Jasmine and Jake.
Had to stop in and say, I received an email from Journal stone about their magazine (#23)..I'm not typically drawn to this type of look...(as seen below)....really not my thing but the title (Dark Discoveries) really intrigued me. What do you think of the cover picture?
Join Dan Maurer, author of the thriller/suspense/horror novella, Snow Day, as he tours the blogosphere July 1 - September 27, 2013 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book! This tour is part of a huge Kindle Fire HD Giveaway. If interested in signing up for a review, interview, guest post, or book spotlight, please let us know by contacting Tracee at tgleichner (at) gmail.com or leave a comment below along with your contact information.
It happens each winter, and has for over 35 years. Every time the snow starts to fall late in the evening before a school day, the dreams begin again for Billy Stone. They are always the same – there’s a dark tunnel, and there’s blood, lots of blood, and someone is screaming.
In this chilling childhood tale, Billy, recounts the events of one unforgettable day in 1975. On that day, he and his friends played carefree in the snow, until an adventure gone awry left him far from home, staring death in the face, and running from a killer bent on keeping a horrible secret.
Set in a time before Amber Alerts, when horror stories were told around camp fires instead of on the nightly news, Snow Day is a blend of nostalgia and nightmare that makes us question if the good old days were really as good as we remember.
From a new voice in dark fiction comes a thriller about an idyllic childhood turned horrifying; a cautionary tale about how losing sight of the difference between feeling safe and being safe can lead to deadly consequences.
Dan Maurer is an independent author, publisher, theater producer, director, and digital marketer. He is also a proud member of International Thriller Writers, Inc. and the Horror Writers Association. Throughout his career in publishing and marketing, he has been involved in the publication of bestselling titles such as John Grisham’s The Firm, Richard Price’s Clockers, and Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger’s Lost Moon, which became the film Apollo 13. As a digital marker, he has supported popular publishing brands including Curious George, Peterson Field Guides, and The Polar Express. He has also developed marketing strategies for many corporations, including Citizen, Dun & Bradstreet, RCN and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Dan is a member of an acclaimed New Jersey-based theater company and has won awards for his producing, directing and sound design. He lives with his wife and their daughter in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
My voice was cautious as I called into the darkness. It wasn’t my house and I had no business being down in that cellar. By the look of the boards on the windows upstairs, and the weeds that strangled the front yard, it hadn’t been anyone’s house for a long time. But still, even at ten, I knew in my bones that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.
One of the windows was busted at the corner, and the cold wind whipped and whistled at the breach. Outside, a loose metal trash can rolled and rattled and knocked about with each new gust. It made a soft, distant sound.
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
The only light was an old Coleman lantern that I found there. It lay at my feet, the mantle fading and sputtering. Beyond the meager glow that lit no more than my boot-tops, it gave me the terrifying certainty that someone was here, or close by, and would soon —
Was that a sound? I held my breath and listened carefully, trying hard to dismiss the pounding pulse that thrummed in my ears. Was that a shuffling sound, maybe feet moving and scraping across loose dirt?
“Hello…? Anyone here…?”
I squinted hard but it was useless. The darkness was unyielding and oddly thick with the smell of freshly turned earth. Someone had been digging down here.
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
Running into the house to hide from the police was my only option. The place should have been empty, long abandoned. But it wasn’t, and I knew now that I had to get out. I turned to leave, to run; and then I heard it, a word from the darkness. It was whispered and pitiful and — it was my name. Someone in the darkness called my name.
”Who’s there?” I called out.
”I…I…didn’t d-do nothing wr-wrong, Billy.”
Both the voice and its stutter were familiar. Just hearing it made my guts twist.
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
I snatched up the lantern at my feet, recalled my scout training, and worked the pump to pressurize the kerosene. The lantern’s mantle hissed a bit, burned a little brighter, and pushed back the darkness.
The light washed over a young boy. Like me, he was just ten, and I knew his name.
It came out like a question, but it wasn’t. Tommy Schneider lived next door to me and was part of our snowball fight just a few hours before.
When the light touched him, Tommy flinched and turned his shoulder, as if anticipating a blow. He shivered and folded his arms across his chest, hands tucked in his armpits. He paced and shuffled his feet in a small circle, as if his bladder was painfully full, and he whined and muttered; half to himself, half to me.
“It w-wasn’t m-my fault, Billy. I…I just w-wanted to play.” His eyes were swollen and red, and the tears ran streaks through the dirt on his freckled face.
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
“Tommy, what the hell are you doing down here?”
”I..I…I’m sorry, b-but I d-didn’t do nothing wrong, Billy. I’m s-sorry.”
He kept his hands tucked under his armpits, but motioned with his chin. And that’s when I saw it, just a few feet from where I stood.
Naked and half buried in a pile of loose earth lay the dead body of a boy that appeared to be our own age.
”Jesus Christ…what the hell, Tommy.”
”No….” His whining grew and fresh tears were coming.
”What the hell did you do?”
”Nooo…” he whined more and covered his ears. “I didn’t do nothing wrong.”
Frantic now, I held out the fading lantern, quickly looking around. We were still alone. The scene before me was unfathomable.
In the half-shadows of the cellar where the lantern struggled to reach, there was a pile of fresh, moist earth and broken shards of concrete. I saw some tools – a sledgehammer and a shovel, and I think a pickax, too. A few brown sacks of cement mix were piled against the wall. And there was a large hole; a gaping wound in the cellar floor that reached beneath the foundation of the house, a hole that led down into a place where the lantern’s light could not touch. Nearby, a stray boot lay in the dirt, just beyond it a gym sock, and another lay close by my feet. A faded, wadded up pair of jeans was perched at the edge of the hole.
Tap…tap, clang… Tap…tap, clang…
I shivered, despite my layers of clothing and new winter coat. Tommy was freezing. He wore only jeans and a t-shirt pulled over a long-sleeved sweatshirt. His breath, like mine, fogged in the January air, and his jaw waggled helplessly from his shivering.
“Who’s that?” I asked, pointing to the body.
At first, Tommy’s eyes followed my finger, but then he just moaned and cried some more, and turned away.
I couldn’t tell if the boy on the ground was from our immediate neighborhood, or my school, or Boy Scout troop, or baseball team. It was difficult to discern much about him at all. He lay on his belly in a pile of dirt, and the loose earth covering his face and parts of his torso were, it seemed, tossed on him carelessly by whoever dug the hole. The backs of his pale white thighs glowed in the lantern’s light. The only stitch of clothing left on him was a pair of white Fruit of the Loom jockeys tangled around one ankle.
I picked up one of the gym socks from the ground, pinched it into a ball and held it with the tips of my fingers. Kneeling beside the dead boy’s head, I held the lantern close with one hand and used the sock to brush the dirt from his face with the other. Like a fossil being unearthed by an archeologist, the truth came slowly. As the seconds passed, the light and each stroke of my hand brought broken, bloodied and indecipherable features into sharp focus. But the crushed and jellied eyeball put me over the edge.
I jerked back from the body.
”Oh, God! Tommy, what — “
My stomach lurched.
I dropped the lantern and fell backward onto the ground. Turning and scrambling away on hands and knees, I found a corner and began to wretch. My back arched and my body convulsed uncontrollably. It was the Coney Island Cyclone all over again, but this time nothing came up, only thin strands of bile dripped from my mouth and down my lips.
In time, the convulsions faded. I finally rolled over and just sat there, looking at Tommy, wiping the spittle from my lips with the back of a shaky hand. My head throbbed and my mind was fuzzy. No words would come.
The wind howled through the broken cellar window again. Outside, the passing cars made a distant shushing sound as they crept along Woodlawn Avenue, tires rolling through the snow and slush. My heaving, stinking breath clouded in the cold air, and Tommy just cried.
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
I was ten years old and had just seen my very first real dead body – still and soulless, and battered beyond recognition – lying on the floor of a cold, dark cellar of an abandoned house. What the hell did I get myself into?
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
Staggering to my feet, I picked up the lantern and held it out.
”Tommy… who did this?” My throat was dry and pained.
Just as the words passed my lips, something in my mind and in my ears opened up – popped open, really, like in the cabin of an airliner during descent. That sound.
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
It was different. It was continuous. It wasn’t the rattling trash can anymore. The sound came from a distance but it was there, and it was distinctive. I knew exactly who was standing impatiently, hip cocked and jaw set, banging on the lip of a dinner bell with her soup ladle.
Clang, clang… Clang, clang…
Tommy looked at me. He heard it too and knew what it meant.
”Your Ma’s calling, Billy.”
”I…I…didn’t d-do nothing wr-wrong, Billy,” Tommy whined. “I just w-wanted to play.”
”It was ol’ George,” he finally said. “He did it. Stay away from ol’ George.” And then he started to cry again, whimpering. “I just wanted to play,” he mumbled through the tears. ‘ …just wanted to play…”
Pump Up Your Book and Dan Maurer are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!
Here's how it works:
Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn't set up to accept the form, we offer another way for you to participate by having people comment on your blog then directing them to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries.
This promotion will run from July 1 - September 27. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 28, 2013.
Each blogger who participates in the Snow Day virtual book tour is eligible to enter and win.
Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.
If you would like to participate, email Tracee at tgleichner(at)gmail.com. What a great way to not only win this fabulous prize, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!