Steve Alten August Newsletter
MEGheads, Cove Dwellers, and the rest of my wonderful readers:

It was 26 years ago this month that the seed that would become the MEG franchise took root in my mind. I was thirty-five at the time and living in West Boca Raton, Florida in a rented townhouse with my second (and present) wife, Kim, her daughter Amanda (age 10), son Chad (age nine), and our six month old daughter, Kelsey. I had moved down to South Florida four years earlier to open a Water Resources distributorship, hiring and training sales reps to sell whole house water treatment systems. We struggled to break even and I eventually closed up the office, running reps out of the townhouse. After a year I was the only one left and began searching for a new career. I tried several MLMs but never made a dime. And then, in August of 1995, I read the cover story of this issue of TIME magazine which introduced me to hydrothermal vents and the Mariana Trench, the deepest most unexplored location on Earth. I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if that prehistoric Great White shark I read about when I was a teen was still alive down there… hell, I’d read that book! Better yet…” I drove to the library in West Boca and found the picture of six nerdy scientists seated in a giant shark jaw. Researching Megalodon produced very little other than the fact that they were not like the marine reptiles that went extinct 65 million years ago, these sharks were super predators that only disappeared 2 million years ago or less…
As a sales manager and (before that) a basketball coach, I believed in the power of setting a goal (read THINK & GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill). Convinced I had a great story to tell, I set the goal to become a best-selling author. I would complete a week of extensive research at my local library (no internet back then), create an outline, and then begin writing the manuscript to “White Death.” Water treatment home demos ran from 4pm to 10 pm on weeknights and all day Saturdays, so the only time I could write was in the morning when I watched my daughter (Kim worked in a doctor’s office from 9am to 4pm) and late at night. Every morning I’d feed Kelsey breakfast, then pop on Barney while I wrote, editing the previous day’s 2-4 pages before working on new pages. At the time I did not own a p/c, the original 450 page (single space) manuscript was written on a word processor that could only save 3,000 words per file… ugh. Kim got home around 4pm and I’d head out to try and sell water systems door to door to pay the bills. Each night upon returning home, I’d say goodnight to my wife and worked from 11pm to about 3 am – often falling asleep on my keyboard.

QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One bite at a time. Same for writing a novel – you write a 400+ page manuscript a page at a time. By January I had completed the first phase of my goal (the manuscript); phase-2 was to get it to a publisher. With no connections or a clue, I purchased a book: How To Get Published which said I needed a literary agent.

Following the instructions, I wrote a 2-page query letter and sent it to every literary agent in the book that handled fiction. Of the 60 to 70 letters sent, I received about 30 rejection letters. The only interested agent was Ken Atchity at AEI in Los Angles. Ken believed my story had the potential to be a great book and movie – only it needed a ton of editing. He would assign an editor to work with me and teach me and then Ken would represent my manuscript to publishers, but his fee ($6,000) had to be paid up front. I didn’t have the money, but I did own a 1971 Chevy Malibu convertible my Dad had bought for me when I was eighteen. So I sold my car and borrowed the rest from a side job I had been working on and under the tutelage of my agent and editor, rewrote the book.

In February 1996, I received a bizarre call from a guy who said, “Is this Steve Alten? You sonuva bitch, I could have been your father!” The guy had dated my mother when she was seventeen. He owned a Wholesale Meat company in Deerfield Beach, and he wanted to meet me. WTF? So I drove to his plant and an hour later walked out with a box of steaks and a job as his new sales manager.

What a looney bin. The owners were Larry, his son, David (a good guy) from his first marriage, and his present wife’s three sons (from oldest down) a liar & thief, a hot-tempered 25 year old with a Napoleon complex, and an unmotivated 23 year old younger brother – and last and definitely least, a son-in-law with zero self-control. The two families hated one another. On my first day Napoleon punched Larry in the face and broke his nose. Larry said, “Take over, kid, I’m outta here” and drove off on his Harley. So I took over, setting rules and goals. Three months later, I was promoted to General Manager…

Meanwhile, I kept on writing every night and every weekend, and the new manuscript was amazing. In May, Ken and a producer associate (Warren Zide) optioned the first 100 pages of MEG and a treatment for the rest of the book on a first-look deal to Disney’s Hollywood Pics. And then, on Friday the 13th in September 1996 I went to work -- and was fired. Seems the Boys no longer needed me to babysit them. I drove home with no job and $45 in the bank. Kim was upset, but I said, “Don’t worry, hon – this is the best thing that could have happened - now I have more time to work on my next book!” Four days later Ken started a bidding war between the top publishing houses in the U.S. for the pub rights to MEG and a treatment for a Mayan Doomsday story. We went with the second highest offer from Bantam-Doubleday, the pub who had published JAWS (a 2 book, $2.1 million deal) and the rollercoaster that has been my career over the last 25 years started up a steep slope.

In October, MEG was named book of the Frankfurt Book Fair, BDD optioning the pub rights to over 20 countries. In July of 1997 the hardback of MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror hit bookstores and in August the NY Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-seller list, buoyed by this interview:
And then the rollercoaster plummeted.

I had been working on book 2 of the contract for 18 months – a Mayan Doomsday thriller. One problem: the Doubleday president wanted an underwater thriller (she told me she was positioning me to be their next Peter Benchley).
My editor kept sending me ideas for underwater chapters that made no sense, but we had just moved into our dream home and bought new cars, etc… so I gave them what they wanted, turning in the second draft in November of 1997. And then a strange thing happened – Doubleday refused to take my calls or emails – they cut me and my agent, Ken off. Then, in December – 2 weeks before I was due to receive the balance on the second deal ($800k) they cancelled the Mayan Doomsday book with no explanation, though publicly they blamed me. Ken convinced me to sue, if for no other reason than I had to get clean rights to the Mayan story (which they had advanced me on) so I could rewrite it and sell it. Months later BDD was bought by Bertlesmann (German company), and the president of Doubleday was fired. Turns out she had cancelled several frontloaded contracts in an attempt to improve her P & L and save her job. Not that FATHOM was very good – in fact, I hated it. Canceling it may have saved my career.

While all this was happening, Bantam (the paperback entity) was preparing to release the MEG mass market in June. JAWS had sold 10 million paperbacks with an epic shark cover and preorders had already reached 750,000 copies. So what did the art department at Bantam create? A Black cover with MEG written in black… no shark, no definition of what a MEG was -- really? Is that the best the publisher of JAWS could do?

It was clear either Bantam or Bertlesmann wanted the book to underachieve in order to justify their decision to drop me as an author.. I later learned that BDD labeled me as "difficult to work with" which is absolutely NOT true. I've always been a team player no matter what the job or project, I always return the editor's edits immediately, and I pay for extra publicity myself. However, I never settle for second best when it comes to my fans. EXAMPLE: I now insist on all MEG covers be designed by my friend, the amazing Erik Hollander because my MEGheads deserve nothing less.. Years after Bantam released their black on black cover, I paid Erik to do a new cover for Bantam. Which one do you think works best? Can you imagine how many more books Bantam would have sold?
A few months later the president of Hollywood Pics was fired and his replacement cancelled all of his projects – including MEG.

These two cancelled deals = a loss of $1.3 million, plus MEG paperback sales were poor (no one knowing what a MEG was back then). Bye bye cars, bye bye dreamhouse. I needed money and fast, but my brain was fried from spending the last 18 months on the Mayan/underwater story, which needed to be completely taken apart and rewritten. Instead I wrote the MEG sequel (The Trench) and Ken sold it to Kensington for low six figures. We settled with Doubleday, my editor giving me back the full rights to the Mayan story and enough to pay a tax bill.

I recognized that I needed to learn my craft and improve, so I set out to learn from other authors – including Thomas Harris, whose Silence of the Lambs influenced writing and new storyline of my third novel, DOMAIN, which was optioned by Tor/Forge – my third publisher. Although domestic sales were only fair, the reviews were positive. Ten years later my foreign rights (and current) agent sold the pub rights to a small publisher in Spain. They renamed the novel, El Testamente Maya and the book was #1 in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina and sold well in Europe – the trilogy out-selling the MEG series.

Underwater story my ass…

Coming in September: ALTEN ROLLERCOASTER Part II – New Line Cinema – the shark infested waters which led me to the movie's guardian Angel...

Enjoy the rest of the newsletter… and thank you for supporting me on this crazy journey.

Steve Alten
What is Sea Monster Cove & why is
THIS MONTH the perfect time to join? is a groundbreaking multi-media entertainment experience where members can interact with the most terrifying sea monsters and prehistoric sharks in history.

  • Over a dozen 360 Virtual Aquarium Experiences!
  • Two addictive video games - compete for MEG teeth & other prizes!
  • Two episodic TV series in development, written by Steve Alten (creator of the MEG).
  • Download enhanced novels from the Steve Alten library, packed with hundreds of graphic images...and much more!

It all begins with MAUG ISLAND and the ORIGIN STORY – the story that came to me in December of 2019… the story that is woven through every aspect of Sea Monster Cove:

Located in the Northern Marianas, Maug Island is part of the Mariana Archipelago, a volcanic mountain range that rose out of the Mariana Trench subduction area hundreds of millions of years ago. Five million years ago Maug’s volcano erupted so violently it destroyed nearly everything above the waterline. All that remains today are three uninhabited islets (part of the volcano’s rim) and its lagoon (which had been its magma chamber, or caldera)… all true btw.

EIGHT YEARS AGO… French marine biologist Dr. Maxima Rostand and his team discovered superheated mineral water percolating up from the mantle into Maug’s lagoon, nourishing a thriving marine community. While he and his colleagues (David Gluck and Beatrice “B.B.” Berethelot) were cataloging samples kept in a pool of lagoon water on the deck of their research vessel, the Benita, a Filipino fishing trawler entered the lagoon, dragging what appeared to be a whale in its trawl net. Max demanded the captain release the whale… only to learn it was an immense pregnant Basking shark. The shark had panicked and gone into labor, forcing the captain to drown it in the lagoon’s shallows before it sunk his vessel.

The captain released the dead shark, allowing Max Rostand to perform an emergency C-section. Fifteen female pups poured out of the womb – fourteen black pups and an albino. Four survived. Rushing out to sea, Dr. Rostand and his team released the first two pups, only to witness them convulse in the cold Pacific Ocean and die. The remaining pups (the albino and a black pup) remained alive in the Benita’s specimen pool, which was filled with the lagoon’s warm mineral water. Dr. Rostand and his crew returned to the lagoon to collect water samples from the dead mother’s womb -- which MATCHED the lagoon water. Wherever the sharks had come from, the deepwater habitat was feeding into Maug’s lagoon. The mother shark’s immense size (57 feet) and sharp teeth indicated the species was an apex predator – a prehistoric Mako which resembled the modern-day Black Demon… a giant black shark believed to inhabit the Sea of Cortez.

The scientists decided to raise Snowflake (the albino) and Layla (pure Black Demon) themselves. From their very first feeding, the two pups were treated to Dr. Max Rostand’s singing and guitar playing, his amplifier pressed against the sides of the specimen pool. The objective was to train that sharks to associate specific sound vibrations with feeding time. Underwater speakers replaced the amplifier once the pups were transferred to their lagoon paddock. The conditioning worked so well that Max and his colleagues could use the vibrations to summon the girls anywhere within the lagoon. The song Max selected? The very one that inspired the dark pup’s name – B.B’s favorite Eric Clapton song, Layla.

Here is Dr. Max Rostand singing Layla
Here is footage taken over the years of the “girls” by David Gluck.
To locate this deep warm water habitat, David designed and built SCOUT, a remotely operated Sonar Controlled Oceanic Undersea Tracker. Despite his ingenuity, after eight months of searching the ancient depths surrounding Maug’s volcanic foundation no warm water habitat was found. Tasha suggested they tag and release one of the Makos – their senses programmed to locate the warm water refuge.

Here is what happened, the scene written for my episodic TV series, WHERE SEA MONSTERS ROAM.  
Still not a member? WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN now!

On August 29, 2021 we’ll celebrate our first anniversary with special contests and giveaways. We’ll also debut our second video game, WHERE SEA MONSTERS ROAM, which VG expert Paul Knott and his amazing 3D animator Steve Clarke have been working on for ten months. This is a far more complex game than RUN LAYLA RUN. Beta testing on this addictive creation continues this week and the video game should go live around August 21. Joining SMC now locks you in on the cheapest best monthly rate we will ever offer – only $4.95 a month per household (50% off!) Membership also gives you access to a private library featuring COLOR GRAPHIC ENHANCED versions of all of my novels!
The Black Demon shark is the modern-day cousin of the prehistoric Makos in Sea Monster Cove. It resides in the Sea of Cortez and is reputed to be as large as a Megalodon -- only all black. I missed the Black Demon special on Shark Week so I searched youtube and located this special:
Oops – wrong video. I had forgotten that I appeared in this MONSTER QUEST episode many years ago. Despite the title, it is NOT about the Black Demon shark; it flirts with Megalodon and chases after a “large…large…very large shark” (cue rapid cuts and tense music) to locate (drum roll) a 14-foot whale shark… meh… not exactly what you hoped to find on this lame journey.
CONGRATS to our first month video game winner: Tyler Krawczyk, who dominated RUN LAYLA RUN in July. Grand prize is a 4-inch MEG tooth – the real deal. I have posted a new competition below, along with the names and scores of our top scorers. Go to and the Video Game links to play.
RUN LAYLA RUN : July Results: Congrats Tyler!

Tyler Krawczyk - 136,495

Steven Lebowitz - 125,855

Kashan14 - 104,563

beccy - 100,531

bebe88 - 97,543
SEA MONSTER COVE: Coming in August
August 1-31: RUN LAYLA RUN contest for members of

The top 5 PLAYERS will receive:
Fifth highest top scorer: A personalized signed copy of The MEG

Fourth highest top scorer: A minor character in The LOCH: Heaven’s Lake.

Third highest top scorer: A minor character in MEG: Purgatory.

Second highest top scorer: A major character in The LOCH: Heaven’s Lake!

Highest top scorer: A major character in MEG: Purgatory!
August 22 at 3pm EST: ZOOM call with Steve Alten - featuring a very special guest star TBA. All members are welcome. To receive an invite, email Kelly at

Much more to be announced!
Music Video of the Month:
Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon)
He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent

Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair

Better stay away from him - he'll rip your lungs out Jim

I'd like to meet his tailor…
Three Warning Signs of a Heart Attack:
Are you at risk for heart failure? Here are 3 warning signs to look out for:
Recipe of the Month: Amazing Roast Chicken
½ cup dry white wine
2 lemons cut in half
6 large cloves of garlic
½ cup of white wine
4 pound whole chicken
1 ½ teaspoons of cold butter
Dijon mustard

Step 1: Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Pour the wine into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; set aside.

Step 2 Place the lemon halves and garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken. Slide half of the butter underneath the skin of each breast. Rub the chicken all over with Dijon mustard, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Place into the cast-iron skillet.

Step 3 Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 1 hour more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 15 minutes before slicing.
*IF YOU HAVE A RECIPE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE, please e-mail to me at Put RECIPE in the subject line.
Jokes of the Month
What did the right eye say to the left eye? "Between you and me, something smells.

Why is there no gambling in Africa? There are too many cheetahs.

How does Jesus make his coffee? Hebrews it.

I bought some shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I can't stop tripping.

My boss just texted me: "Send me one of your funny jokes!"I texted him back: "I'm busy working. I'll send one later." "That's hilarious," he said. "Send another one!"

A Mexican magician says that he'll disappear on the count of three. "Uno... dos..." POOF! He disappears without a tres.

What do you call a nun in a wheelchair? Virgin mobile.

Why are redneck murder cases the hardest to solve? There are never any dental records.

How do you find Will Smith in the snow? You look for the fresh prints.

My wife has an odd way of starting conversations ..She always begin by saying, "Hey, are you even listening?"

A blind guy walks into a store ... and starts swinging his seeing eye dog around his head. An employee comes over and nervously asks if he can help. The blind guy replies, "No thanks. I'm just looking around."

A hamburger walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve food here."

What did the pirate say on his 80th birthday? Aye 'maighty.

Two fish are in a tank ...One turns to the other and says, "You man the guns. I'll drive."

What is 40 feet long and only has three teeth? The funnel cake line at the Arkansas state fair.
IF YOU HAVE A JOKE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE, please e-mail to me at Put JOKE in the subject line.
Your monthly dose of the three wise men… Dr. Howard… Dr. Fine…. Dr. Howard.”
Stay safe… and please get vaccinated. This is not a political issue; it is a choice of life over death.

Steve Alten
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