Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Feature: Can This Be Home? And Four Other Stories by Bobbe Palmer



Inside the Book:

Can This Be Home
Title: Can This Be Home? And Four Other Stories 
Author: Bobbe Palmer 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Fiction 
Format: Ebook

Annie has just suffered an unimaginable loss. While she spirals into the darkness of grief, her rancher husband, Ray, appears to lack emotion. But as a storm approaches their Wyoming ranch, Annie finally sees something in Ray's blue eyes that transforms everything.

In a compelling collection of stories, Bobbe Palmer shines a light on five women of different ages and circumstances as each faces unique challenges. After little Ally witnesses a fight between her father and another farmer over water, she soon discovers what happens when a man thinks he can do everything for himself. Janie was once happy with Brad. But that was before he let the drink overtake his life. Now all she worries about is which one of them it will kill first. Odd Ida does not like boys. But when one appears at her door, she invites him into her home-and unwittingly, into her life, where she learns loneliness can be cured. Sandy knows something is visiting her farmhouse at night. Now all she has to do is determine its identity and what it wants.

Can This Be Home? is a compilation of tales that offer powerful descriptions, tormented characters, and heartbreak as five women bravely confront their trials.

Meet the Author:
Bobbe Palmer attended Grinnell College in Iowa and the University of Denver. After teaching school one year in Kansas, she married a Presbyterian minister. She assisted him as he served churches in Wyoming, and then in mission work in Alaska. Now a widow, Bobbe lives in Estes Park, Colorado.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Hillary Clinton by Brittany L. Stalsburg

5 Things You Might Not Know About Hillary Clinton
By Brittany L. Stalsburg
When my co-author and I set out to write a book about Hillary Clinton, we thought we knew pretty much everything there was to know about her already. After all, Hillary has occupied the political spotlight for decades, and she is arguably one of the most well-known public figures in the U.S. We wrote the book in order to re-introduce Hillary to the American public, but what we learned even surprised us. Here are 5 things you might not know about Hillary
·        She’s a Midwesterner
Unbeknownst to many, Hillary was born and raised in the Midwest—in suburban Illinois, with her parents and two brothers. Both her parents came from humble roots, especially her mother who was abandoned as a child and started working at the age of 14 to support herself. Hillary’s father, the son of a factory laborer, fought for our country in World War II and then returned to civilian life and became a small business owner. It was through her family and Midwestern community that Hillary developed the smart pragmatism that has led to her success as a political leader—she is a progressive who gets things done, and at a time when Washington seems paralyzed by never-ending gridlock, Hillary’s Midwestern no-nonsense approach to solving problems is exactly what America needs.

·        She Turned Bill Down (At First)
In the early 1970’s, Bill proposed marriage to Hillary twice before she finally accepted. As Hillary describes her ambivalence: "I was desperately in love with him but utterly confused about my life and future…so I said 'No not now' -- what I meant was 'Give me time.'" Before entering a marriage, Hillary wanted to be sure she was clear and confident about her own future, including her career goals. Her display of independence and desire to build her own future first was trailblazing for a woman in the 1970’s—when marriage and children were still thought of as a woman’s ultimate goal.

But more than serving as an example for other working women, Hillary’s decision to delay marriage also reflects her strong sense of self and unwavering commitment to making smart choices, even when they’re tough to make.

·        She Credits Her Mother For Her Perseverance
Hillary is a fighter, and it's in her blood. Dorothy Rodham, Hillary’s mother, came from a broken home and was abandoned by her parents at a young age. She briefly lived with her grandparents until she left to live on her own at the mere age of 14, working as a housekeeper for $3 a week. Despite her difficult childhood, Dorothy overcame great odds and thrived. Her remarkable resilience, coupled with her determination to keep fighting and never give up, had a profound effect on Hillary. Indeed, Hillary herself says of her mother, “No one had a bigger influence on my life or did more to shape the person I became.”

·        She’s a Strong Advocate for Children
Right after law school, when most of Hillary’s peers were taking jobs at top-paying law firms, Hillary joined the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy group that fights for the rights and interests of children. One of her first projects with the CDF was going door-to-door to collect information and compile data on children who either dropped out of school or were falling behind due to physical, mental, or learning disabilities.  She used this data to craft a landmark report by the CDF that helped raise awareness of the plight of handicapped children and eventually led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

·        She Can Work With Republicans
Hillary’s record demonstrates her strong commitment to bipartisan solutions. In the Senate, she teamed up with Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), notorious for his denial of climate change, on utilizing geothermal energy to power federal buildings as a way of reducing costs and improving energy efficiency.  Together they ensured the provision would be included in a comprehensive energy bill.

On behalf of veterans, Hillary joined Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), one of the staunchest conservatives in Congress, in introducing a bill guaranteeing full payment of bonuses to wounded veterans.  The bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent.

In both examples, Hillary reached across the aisle in the name of a greater good—cleaner energy and support for our veterans. She did the same thing as Secretary of State, working with Republicans to guarantee the health and security of the United States. Republicans have praised her performance, and even some of her biggest rivals admit her effectiveness, including Jeb Bush, who said of Hillary: “Hillary and I come from different political parties and we disagree about lots of things. But we do agree on the wisdom of the American people.”
Find out more facts about Hillary in our book, 52 Reasons To Vote For Hillary.

About the Authors

 Brittany Stalsburg is a communications strategist and creator of the feminist blog, Women Want To Be On Top. She writes about politics and gender issues regularly. As a strategist, Brittany has helped dozens of organizations develop and refine their message to communicate with a variety of audiences.

Her work has been published in several academic journals and books and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pollie Awards for issue campaigns and the New York American Association of Public Opinion Research (NYAAPOR) Best Paper Award.

Brittany holds a PhD in political science from Rutgers University and a BA in political science and women’s studies from Providence College.

Bernard Whitman is a Democratic Party political pollster and strategist in the United States. He makes regular appearances on Fox News, and has appeared as a commentator and strategist on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC and Al Jazeera America.

He is the author of 52 Reasons To Vote For Obama and has been a pollster to political candidates such as Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. Bernard has been involved in the past eight U.S. presidential campaigns and has served as strategic advisor to numerous heads of state, Fortune 500 CEOs, and some of the world’s leading issue advocacy organizations and nonprofit institutions.

Whitman is the President and founder of Whitman Insight Strategies, a strategic consulting firm that conducts polls and market research to advise corporations, political leaders, and issue-advocacy organizations. He is a three-time recipient of the David Ogilvy Excellence in Research Award, and pioneered the development of The Political Model to identify the “swing” consumer, and the messages and media channels that can unlock additional votes for a brand or cause.
He is an alumnus of Brown University, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa

Visit the authors online:


About the Book:

Reasons to Vote for Hillary is a comprehensive guide and re-introduction to Hillary Clinton’s career and life history to help voters understand why she is the best candidate to lead America forward into the 21st century.
Pick up your copy:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Feature: GHOST HAMPTON by Ken McGorry

We're excited to be part of Ken McGorry's GHOST HAMPTON blog tour this month!  Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!

Author: Ken McGorry
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 450
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Lyle Hall is a new man since his car accident and spinal injury. The notoriously insensitive Bridgehampton lawyer is now afflicted with an odd sensitivity to other people's pain. Especially that of a mysterious young girl he encounters outside a long-abandoned Victorian house late one October night. “Jewel” looks about 12. But Lyle knows she’s been dead a hundred years. Jewel wants his help, but it’s unclear how. As if in return, she shows him an appalling vision—his own daughter's tombstone. If it’s to be believed, Georgie’s last day is four days away. Despite Lyle’s strained relations with his police detective daughter, he’s shocked out of complacent convalescence and back into action in the real world.

But the world now seems surreal to the formerly Scrooge-like real estate lawyer. Lyle’s motion in court enjoining the Town of Southampton from demolishing the old house goes viral because he leaked that it might be haunted. This unleashes a horde of ghost-loving demonstrators and triggers a national media frenzy. Through it all strides Lyle’s new nemesis in high heels: a beautiful, scheming TV reporter known as Silk.

Georgie Hall’s own troubles mount as a campaign of stationhouse pranks takes a disturbing sexual turn. Her very first case is underway and her main suspect is a wannabe drug lord. Meanwhile, Lyle must choose: Repair his relationship with Georgie or succumb to the devious Silk and her exclusive media contract. He tells himself seeing Georgie’s epitaph was just a hallucination. But a few miles away the would-be drug lord is loading his assault rifle. Berto needs to prove himself.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

He heard her here. She was one of the whisperers. It seemed weirdly flattering at first.
           Ensconced in the MediCab that exhausted evening of the detour, Lyle had the windows down, allowing in fresh air and the angling rays of the setting sun. Commuter traffic from the train station had been annoyingly redirected onto Poplar Street. Fred crept forward, foot on the brake, with eight more cars ahead of them. Wrung out after his wrongheaded foray to Southampton, Lyle’s arms and shoulders ached; muscles, joints, his hands too. And he felt the onset of what Dr. Susan Wayne called “free-floating anxiety.” In Lyle’s case, a blob of uneasiness that could intensify into inchoate dread.
He was slumped in his Mr. Potter when the imposing shambles of a house came into view on his right. Everybody called it Old Vic. Sporting dumb old “No Trespassing” signs as long as anyone could remember, it was commonly held that Old Vic was once a brothel. Long ago, when Bridgehampton was part of the East End’s whaling industry, before it grew into a high-end summer getaway, real-estate bonanza and snob haven.
            Then there’s the suburban legend that Old Vic was haunted. Who says? No one and everyone, whether they believe it or not.
            The MediCab was crawling by Old Vic when Lyle first heard the whispers. He rose on his elbows, his chair secured to the van’s floor, and listened. Cats in heat. No, wait. This was more subtle, conversational. A furtive murmur that piqued his curiosity. He needed to listen again.
            “Hey Fred, make a right at the corner, please?”
            “Course correction, Mr. Hall?”
            “I want to circle back for another look at the old house. And Fred, call me Lyle, okay? Lyle is fine.” It had been six months with the same driver.
            Fred made the turn. Any such whim of Lyle Hall’s, he knew, was good for a crisp off-the-books twenty. It was even worth a twenty to stop at the ATM—Lyle would entrust Fred with his debit card and pass code to avoid the hassle. He also let Fred smoke.
            Fred drove around the block clockwise. From each side street Lyle got a view of Old Vic’s battered cupola poking above the trees and roof lines of summer homes. It was unsettling—the cupola, a little booth standing atop the third story, was Old Vic’s most exposed and weather-beaten feature. Any paint was scabby and vestigial. The cupola’s large oval oculus suggested a blinded Cyclops, its leaded glass shattered by determined boys with BB guns long before Lyle was born.
            They turned onto Poplar again, and approached the house.
            “Slow down, please, Fred? Actually, could you park?”
            Fred did so. Odd request, but Mr. Hall is, or was, a real estate tycoon.
            “And roll down the windows, please? And mind turning off the radio? ...Thanks. Cut the engine too, please, Fred? ...Thank you.”
            If Mr. Hall wants to smell Old Vic, Fred figured, this could be worth more than one folded twenty. He glanced at Lyle through his mirror, lit a butt, and texted his wife.
            To the west, clouds glowing orange and pink were eclipsed by the hulking old house. It grew darker. The last of the traffic was now gone. Lyle strained to hear. He tried to listen harder, if that’s possible.
            Quiet. Listen.


About the Author

Ken McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.

Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Writing Life with John DeDakis

What’s inside the mind of a mystery-suspense-thriller author?

A jumble of things, but you’d be surprised that the next novel isn’t one of them. That’s probably because job #1 right now is getting the word out about the current novel, plus I’m looking ahead to making my novel into an audio book, a TV series, and going on tour.

What is so great about being an author?

Being a published author is its own reward.  It means a lot to me that my agent, Barbara Casey, fell in love with my writing more than ten years ago, found homes for my four novels, and encourages me when she says that each successive book is better than the previous one. 

As a writer, it’s extremely easy to talk yourself into thinking you’re not good enough.  But when a stranger who’s a writing professional has confidence in you, and it’s reaffirmed by people you don’t know who like what you’ve written – then that’s a confidence builder.

The other great thing about being a published author is all the interesting people I’ve met around the country and overseas. I love introducing people to my work and getting them acquainted with their inner muse.  Being an author has opened doors for me that I never knew existed:  People pay me to edit their book-length manuscripts; I lead writing workshops; I have the honor and privilege of being a writing coach who encourages aspiring writers.  Becoming an author made all those things possible.  

Because I set out long ago to perfect my writing and get published, by the time I retired from CNN after 25 years, I was able to step right into a second career doing what I love to do.  Don’t get me wrong:  I enjoyed being a journalist. But now I do what I want rather than having my life dictated by the news of the day.  Now every day is Saturday.

When do you hate it?

Hate is too strong a word for the parts of being an author that are unsavory.  I find that it’s drudgery crunching email addresses that I collect from book talks and book signings.  Keeping track of receipts for tax purposes is a pain. And I certainly don’t like it when I’m stuck in the middle of a chapter and can’t write my way out of it.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

I worked overnights at CNN for many years, an experience that bludgeoned my sleep-deprived body into submission.  Consequently, I usually only need five or six hours of sleep at a time. 

I wake up without an alarm around five or six in the morning.  The first thing I do is write in my journal.  I’ll dip into social media, Facebook, and email while having breakfast (usually just a bowl of cereal), then I segue into whatever writing project I have going on at the time. 

My writing is best when I’m fresh in the morning.  I’ve found that if I do any “creative” writing late at night, I don’t sleep very well. 

Lunch is light— a sandwich— then I pivot to a manuscript I’ve been hired to edit.  In the evening, my wife Cindy and I will probably make dinner together and then binge watch a series on TV.  Lately, however, I try to step back from television to do some reading for pleasure before bed. 

I’m pursuing a hobby as a jazz drummer, so I look for time in the day to take breaks by either sitting in at the drum kit I have in the basement or practicing rudiments.

Do you think authors have big egos?  Do you?

I’ve met some authors who have big egos, but most of the writers I know are confident in their abilities, yet they’re generous in their willingness to encourage up-and-comers.  

I have a healthy sense of who I am.  There are some things I do well and other things that, um, need work.  I’m confident, but I pray I’m not arrogant.

How do you handle negative reviews?

I try to learn from them.  Most of the negative reviews I’ve gotten (there haven’t been many) have, thankfully, not been snarky or hurtful.  Also, I’m enough of a realist to know that I won’t be able to please everyone.  Furthermore, I know there are scads of writers who are way better than I am.  All I can do is my best, even as I strive to make my best even better.

How do you handle positive reviews?

I try not to let positive reviews go to my head.  When possible, I thank the reviewer.  More than anything I find good reviews to be encouraging, affirming, and an incentive to keep writing and not quit.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

Usually people are excited and impressed when they learn I’m an author. I think that’s partly because they may never have met a writer before. 

I’m uncomfortable doing all the talking so, as soon as possible, I try to turn the spotlight back onto the other person.  “Do you write?” I often ask. 

Usually people tell me about the book inside them that they’ve been thinking about writing, but often they tell me they don’t know how to write a book because the task seems too daunting.  “I don’t have the discipline,” many people tell me. 

I like suggesting ways to demystify the writing process and help them unlock the straightjacket that might be inhibiting the writer in them.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

If I’m not feeling it, then I don’t write.  Simple as that.  I feel sorry for some of my friends who are under contract to crank out a book every nine months.  For me, that would be like writing with a gun at your head.  It’s extremely easy for me to walk away from it when The Muse is on strike. 

One thing I’ve learned, however, is that even when I’m doing something else and not sitting rigidly at the keyboard, I might still be thinking about the story. And that, I’ve come to learn, is an essential part of the writing process. Ruminating is writing, too.  Sometimes we need to give our subconscious a chance to process things without our conscious selves getting in the way.  

Any writing quirks?

Probably the biggest “quirk” is that I’m in my sixties, but I write in the voice of a woman in her twenties.  I believe the key reason I’m able to do that is that throughout my 45 years in journalism, I worked closely with many young women. They told me about their lives – their careers, families, boyfriends – and I listened.  Also, my wife Cindy and daughter Emily, 35, are not only quite talkative, but substantive, as well. 

Many of the women in my life are my beta readers.  They read early drafts and let me know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not. 

Probably the coolest book review I got was for my third novel, Troubled Water.  Book reviewer Vicki Liston wrote, “DeDakis is not only able to write convincingly as a woman, but he writes in such a way that makes the reader completely forget he’s a man. I’m usually mildly irritated when a man presumes to understand the way a woman thinks but in DeDakis’ case, he actually gets it and he conveys that brilliantly in his writing style.” 

Nice.  And thank you, Vicki.

In short, it’s the women in my life who make me think younger, write better, and live more fully.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

It wouldn’t matter.  In fact, I’m sure that’s already the case.  My job isn’t to please them, live up to their expectations, or get them to view me the way I want to be seen.  It’s my life and I’m enjoying living it the way I’ve chosen.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Sure, but I think a love-hate relationship to writing might especially be the case for people who have to write to survive financially. Under those circumstances, writing can be more of a chore than a joy.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

Absolutely not.  Money’s nice.  We all need it.  But I think that deeper down what we need even more than money is the satisfaction that comes from doing what we love— and doing it well. Then writing becomes its own reward. When you’re there, that’s success.

What has writing taught you?

Writing has taught me to think clearly and to communicate effectively and efficiently.  I’ve been journaling for more than fifty years (yes: I’m old!).  Putting pen to paper forces the mind to slow down so that each thought and insight can be captured, chronicled, and analyzed more objectively. 

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Don’t give up.


Title:  Bullet in the Chamber
Genre:  Mystery-Suspense-Thriller
Author:  John DeDakis (pronounced: deh-DAY-kiss)
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books

About the Book:

Gutsy White House correspondent Lark Chadwick is in the right place at the wrong time – front-row center when the executive mansion is attacked, the president is missing, the first lady’s life is in danger, and the man Lark loves disappears.  It’s Lark’s job to sort it all out in this dead-line-a-minute thriller about drugs, drones, and journalism.

The story is based, in part, on the fatal heroin overdose of the author’s 22-year-old son Stephen.

Book Feature: Disinheritance by John Sibley Williams

We're happy to have John Sibley Williams and his new book of poetry, DISINHERITANCE, with us today! Please leave a comment or question to let him know you stopped by!

Author: John Sibley Williams
Publisher: Apprentice House Press
Pages: 98
Genre: Poetry

A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into “this amalgam of real / and fabled light,” these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one’s own hands.

For More Information

  • Disinheritance is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt: 

Truce A panic of finches rises and tonight the late salmon moon is filled with rivers and old shadows. Reflected, iridescing, an amalgam of real and fabled light. I rub grains of wood and cloud between my hands and stretch from the grass into a grandmotherly story of angels, their necessary demons, and how little it takes for the one to climb or descend into the other. This is what she told me before she climbed or descended. The distance from us was the same. This is how she explained where I’d gone and am going. My hands don’t remember much anymore of where the birds have flown. There are felled trees in the sky. The moon’s face drifts across the river. And I miss the hard geometries of coffins.

About the Author

John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Controlled Hallucinations (2013) and Disinheritance (2016). A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Midwest Quarterly, december, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod International Journal, Hotel Amerika, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

For More Information