Monthly Archives: November 2014

Independents’ Day

Okay, even those whose daily reading is limited to road signs and that annoying “Crawl” that runs along the bottom of our TV screens have probably (at least) seen the DVD of the movie “You’ve Got Mail!” Hell, it starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan so thanks to these two great actors and a reasonably good (somewhat touching) script we have a nice introduction to the subject of this blog.

The small independent booksellers are getting screwed to their shelves by BIG BOX booksellers, those corporate giants who’ve all but priced (volume, volume, volume) the smaller booksellers out of the marketplace.

So, for the sake of the Tom Hanks character (Mr. Big Bookseller Pants’ viewpoint in the flick) we thought it might be helpful to readers to go to a quintessential independent seller (the Meg Ryan-like store) to remind us what (if anything) makes little “bookers” a viable—-in today’s economic environment—place to shop.

Pat Wilson (our Meg Ryan) manages the Pelican Book Store in Sunset Beach, a beautiful little beach town on the North Carolina coast.

Bob:  Pat, we’ve been to your shop, it’s wedged in an upscale strip mall just off a major beach road, easy access, plenty of parking, etc.  Pelican is a very attractive store with a nice book balance—from the latest bestsellers to older paperbacks. 

Readers can browse the aisles of your small well-kept shop, knowing that you’re perched right there behind the counter ever on the ready to lead them to the latest good read.  That’s all well and good; we love your store but tell us why we should shop the Pelicans of the marketplace as opposed to loading up with a bag of 20 percent off deals at a Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million before heading home or to the beach.

Pat: I think one of the great pluses you’ll find in the independent book store is in the shop’s staff. The person working with you is probably going to be an avid reader. All of our employees read and spend a great deal of time looking for good books to read, keeping an eye out for books for us to recommend.

When you go to one of the cookie cutter stores, a Books-A-Million or Barnes & Noble, you are probably going to be waited on by youngsters who are there to draw their paychecks. That’s not the case in the independent. We are a business but we make it our business to help our customers find that special book and typically when we recommend it we’ve read it.

That’s what we do and when you go into one of the Big Boys they often can’t tell you whether it’s good or not. The odds are that they not only haven’t read it they may not even know where to find it

Bob: How about Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other booksellers on-line?

Pat: If you buy it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble on-line you can see their write-ups or reviews, but they have ulterior motives when they give a review.  Then pop-ups on your computer will tell you that if you liked this book then you’ll like another book they’re selling. And that just isn’t always the case.  A lot of that marketing is ridiculous. They don’t have readers, it’s all computer-based and their computers don’t read anything.

Bob: How about pricing, the independent vs. the corporate giant?

Pat: Our prices in this independent and with many independents, well, we discount our hardback bestsellers at 20%. You can’t find a better price anywhere else.  That’s one of the great myths of the independents vs. the big bookstores, and here’s another fact—if you do get it cheaper at one of the big corporate stores . . . for every penny you save there you may double that savings by buying from an independent where the sellers read, care and recommend.

The savings will be in our suggestions because when you leave you haven’t bought a bad book. You can lose every penny you “save” at one of the biggies by buying a bad book! We have a book on our shelf right now that is so good and I haven’t seen it being recommended anywhere. It’s called I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes, and it is so good and we know it because we’ve all read it here.  So we’re selling it and people are leaving with a book that is really, really good. I’ve had people call me back and say, “You were right, it was so good!”

Bob: And oh, we hear that the independent booksellers have an angel; according to a NY Times piece, James Patterson has donated $1,000,000 to help save the independents, saying, “I just want to get people more aware and involved in what’s going on here, which is that, with the advent of e-books, we either have a great opportunity or a great problem. Our bookstores in America are at risk. Publishing and publishers as we’ve known them are at stake. To some extent the future of American literature is at stake.”

Can the Patterson grant make a difference and did any of that cash fly to the Pelican?

Pat: No, but let me say just how much we appreciate the fact that there are so many authors who know that we are out here selling books and the fact that they care about the smaller independents. This is very important to us.

Bob: There are a lot of bad books out there, how do these duds get published?

Pat:  One of the biggest problems with the publishing world right now is simply this:  we don’t have the great editors anymore. And the editors we have aren’t strong enough to tell a bestselling writer that he or she needs to take a piece of the manuscript back and rewrite it.

I’ve read writers that have big names, good writers but you can see that they are writing with big contracts, maybe on a deadline, and, my guess is that they’re beginning to “mail them in!”  And they aren’t being told that they need rewrites.  The editors or publishers are trying to keep their stable of authors happy, ones that name alone will sell the book, writers who have produced bestsellers and so they let them get away with crap.

Bob: Ah, but there are some great books, what are you recommending these days?

Pat: There are some wonderful books, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, Plainsong by Kent Haruf, The Color of Water by James McBride. Mary Alice Monroe, who often writes about environmental issues, has produced some great beach reading—The Beach House, Beach House Memories and The Summer Girls come to mind

Bob: Like most booksellers, you have signings but you’re often co-hosting with Silver Coast, a local winery. This would appear to be a stroke of marketing genius; I mean a few glasses of wine and a good book, not a bad combination.

Pat: We started working with the Silver Coast Winery when we had a Southern author who we wanted to host, an author who we knew would bring out a big crowd. As you know, we have a small bookstore here at the beach and she was coming to read and sign in mid-season—the summer—and this island almost sinks under the weight of the tourists during the summer.

So we asked the local winery if we could have the reading and signing there and boy did it work. We had over 200 people and so we’ve been doing this ever since. I think it’s about $10 admission which includes two glasses of wine and the opportunity to hear and meet a well- known author. So yes, this isn’t something that you will see at a major chain in a big city—-a winery/reading at the beach—and it’s been quite a success.

Bob:  Any other ways that a smaller bookstore reels in the writers for events like this?

Pat:   Well it occurred to me that one of the reasons we couldn’t get some authors interested in what we were doing was simply the fact that authors want to get their sales numbers up, they have to if they want to get on the NY Times Bestsellers List. That’s just part of the publishing game. So I had to agree to become a contributor to the NY Times bestselling list.

Here’s how that works. We have to fill out and file a report on what books we’ve sold weekly and believe me that’s a job. I’m very lucky, one of the ladies that work for me takes care of that. We have a little scanner and that tracks every book we sell and this list goes to the NY Times, so when you see that Times list that’s real—and they, of course, are working with the smaller stores and, of course, the big chains as well, tracking the sales of books with the result being the list you read in the newspaper. They don’t make up the numbers—so we did that and got a lot of the bigger authors to come as a result.

Bob: I’ve been in your store a number of times and I’m impressed with the way you take the time to talk to your customers, sometimes it appears to be like something my mother would have called, “Old Home Week!”

Pat: We know so many of our customers—we might know that their spouse is sick or we may be chatting with a lonely widower who came in simply because they wanted to talk to someone.

We’re like the bartender without the booze—and sometimes I’m really in the middle of something and you know what I say to myself, “set it aside,” and so I’ll stop and talk. It’s what we do; we have to realize that the conversation is more important than anything else we might be doing at that time.

Bob: I’m sure that your clientele is built on word of mouth, so there must be a lot of regulars.

Pat:  Let me tell you about two of my customers. I have this one customer who is handicapped and he pulls up in his Jaguar and parks in the handicapped spot. Typically, earlier that day he’s called me and said, ‘I need two books to read.’ And we tell him what we’ve got and how much it will be. When he pulls up there we take the books out to him and he hands us a check and we hand him his books. Again, he’s disabled and it’s too much trouble for him to get into the store.

And I have another fellow who lives here in North Carolina, about four or five hours away and he writes me letters. He’s often writing something doing research and so he’ll want books on subjects as diverse as clowns, comedians, or Negro baseball leagues.

I find them, order them if we don’t have them in stock, and mail them to him. He sends us a check.  After the last shipment I got a letter from his wife who wrote to say, “Keep it up it’s just like Christmas when his books arrive in the mail.”

So the job can be very gratifying!

Bob: I know that marketing can be the key to keeping the cash register ringing, any other areas of sales that help keep an independent afloat?

Pat: We trade used books for used books and so if you bring in a book I will give you X amount of credit—there’s a formula—toward the purchase of another one. Now I don’t take just anything, I have to think that it’s good for a resale, but people here at the beach are looking for used books because people don’t want to take a new or a good book out on the beach—and they don’t’ want to take their e-books or readers on the beach. So this location is great for selling used books, you can’t really take an e-book out on the beach and read it in that bright sunlight, and then there’s the issue of sand, sun, water which can be harmful to a nice hardback or e-book.

Oh, we also ship for people, we’re a UPS pick up and around the second week in December it gets crazy around here. We’ll Xerox for our customers, fax, print, all ways to keep the numbers up.

Bob: As to actual product, is this just book sales at the Pelican or do you have other “impulse” items that might appeal to your clients?

Pat: Well, we sell a ton of jigsaw puzzles.  Another natural tie-in item is greeting cards and we have great photo cards—from the beach. The photos are taken by a fellow who lives out here on the island and we also have some cards that are painted by a North Carolina artist and he does the poetry (inside) and they are different and unique—designed for customers who are living or visiting the beach.

And our “beachie” Christmas cards are big because if people live at the beach they want everyone to know they live at the beach. So we have to hunt for these specialty cards, there’s a little publisher/printer in Southport that I buy my Christmas cards from and they are  very popular with our customers, very unique.

Bob:  You are a small independent at the beach, how seasonal IS your business?

Pat:   Our business here is unique in that it spikes on July 4th, that’s our crescendo. It starts in late April and builds all the way to the 4th of July and by the 4th the island if sinking from all the people that are here for the beach.

Oh, we have a bump before Christmas and I always work Christmas Eve because (laughs) that day we have all these 50-year-old “children” coming in to see their retired parents, “kids” who have forgotten to get enough gifts or any gifts. So this place is a madhouse on Christmas Eve.

Bob: Well it isn’t Christmas Eve but we know you have customers waiting so we’ll close by asking you to tell any and all potential book buyers out there just what kind of person they’ll likely be dealing with when they shop an independent like the Pelican.

Pat:  Well if they’re like the Pelican and like me and my staff, they are people who love people—all kinds of people—and I tell them you aren’t my customers you are my friends, and I mean that. We love the store and I think that’s what people are attracted to. They get it, it comes across, we care for our customers and our store and we put every book in a special place, our books live in certain places. Sometimes people will say. “Well what’s the order of your books? Why is that one over there?” And I say, “Well it lives there because that’s where it’s always lived!”

I don’t have the heart to move them. Like I said, we are not Barnes & Noble, we don’t have huge sections, we put books in certain places because we think that’s where our books should live

Bob: I better go, this IS beginning to sound like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, by the way what did you think of that movie, did Hollywood get the independent vs. the big conglomerate bookstore issues right?

Pat (laughs): Well they got the story right. But I’ll close with this thought as it applies to the independent bookseller; Meg Ryan should have never given up!

* To visit Pat and the Pelican go to:

Agent Angst

Here’s one that comes up on day one in every creative writing class.

Student: “Ah, before we get started I was wondering, ah, how a writer like me gets a book published.”

Professor: “Well, we won’t be encouraging clichés in this class but it really is, particularly in today’s publishing world, a catch twenty-two!”

“The standard answer is that those who have been published get published. I beg to differ, which may at first blush sound like I have good news. But the fact is that the days of “over the transom” publishing miracles are passé. Back when Maxwell Perkins was sharpening his pencil and wearing a green eye-shade at Scribners, a manuscript might just come flying through that tiny window above his doorway (the transom), hit the top of his slush pile and before he could say Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Wolfe, Scribners would be rolling the presses.

Well, it’s a different day, a different time and certainly a different business. So, if you really want to get published you might as well know that the transoms are closed and the editors’ doors are locked…. unless of course you have the key—A Literary Agent!

So, write the “saleable” novel and then find that literary agent.

Now, I’ll tell you the story of my hunt for a literary agent.  Back in the mid-seventies when the bagging of someone with a Manhattan address who would agree to handle your written word, help you package it, make it—through constructive criticism—more saleable, wasn’t easy. But it was a day when something of promise at least had a shot of turning the head of  the group (and it isn’t just Hollywood agents) who Fred Allen characterized thusly:  All the sincerity in Hollywood you could stuff in a flea’s navel and still have room left to conceal eight caraway seeds and an agent’s heart.”

Well when I landed my first agent—and it wasn’t easy—that wasn’t the case at all.  Jane Wilson, a well respected longtime agent with JCA (John Cushman and Associates) in New York was wonderful, a lady with a big heart, one of gold.  But the road that led me to Jane wasn’t a super highway or without its share of  “speed” bumps.

Having purchased Writer’s Market (and you should do the same), the “how to get published” BIBLE of publishers and agents, the quest began to find that literary birddog. I fired off query letters to agencies (along with my first novel BEHIND THE EIGHTBALL) that would take me to the Land of the Published.  The response was overwhelming.  For several months our mailbox filled with letters of rejection.

Dear Mr. Cairns

Although we found BEHIND THE EIGHTBALL an amusing tale, in today’s market first novels are becoming increasingly hard to place.  So it is with regret that we won’t be able to offer representation at this time.  We wish you the best of luck. …..blah, blah, blah, etc.

Sincerely yours,

Agent Form Letter

 Then there was the letter from an agent from upstate New York, a gentleman whose name I do not recall. And just as I was about turn his little dismissive into a paper plane and fly it into the trash I read the final sentence: “Although I don’t think I’m the person to represent this novel I would suggest that you send it along to Jane Wilson at JCA, in the city. I think this is something that might be of interest to Jane.”

Off it went to JCA.  Jane wrote a lovely note back saying that it might be a while before a decision could be made but if I was willing to wait—explaining that it had to go through a reading and approval process (1st reader, 2nd reader) within the agency–that she would indeed consider representation.

Finally the letter arrived. Jane Wilson would be my agent.

Jane was a gem. She knew my children’s names, sent them Christmas cards.  And sadly, sent me publisher’s rejections for Behind the Eight Ball, always, kindly including a line or two loaded with great encouragement, reminding me that a publisher HAD taken it to “committee” which meant that they HAD seriously considered its publication.

Then came the day of infamy (which for a writer’s moment is akin to Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assignation and 9-11). I was at my desk in Watauga Hall at NC State University, my loving wife Alyce called and asked if I was sitting down. I was and heard her say, “They are going to publish your novel!”

Skyrockets in Flight. . . Afternoon Delight!

She was reading now, I’m in a fog and somewhere after the Dear Mr. Cairns and the early raves about my work, there was a pause, the rarefied air cleared and I heard her sob.  Well, hell I was emotional too. And then she said, “I got so excited I didn’t finish the letter.”


‘It’s the last sentence,” they said, “They regretfully have decided to pass!”

Writer’s elevator going down!

Okay, Behind the Eight Ball  currently resides in our attic packed neatly away in a one of those Tupperware tubs where you put things that some poor relative is going to have to heave out after you’ve gone on to Glory. And it has company—numerous book proposals as well as a finished  children’s novel called Caught in a Kona Wind, and an adult novel, The Sand Fiddlers.

Before I published my first novel Jane Wilson retired. I guess the poor dear woman had had enough.  On her way out the door I recall her saying, “There’s a nice young man in our office who has agreed to handle your work!”

And he did and I shall be forever grateful for his hard work that led to the publication of my novel The Comeback Kids and my non-fiction Pen Men “Baseball’s Greatest Bullpen Stories Told by the Men Who Brought the Game Relief.”

The novel brought some nice reviews, Sports Illustrated calling it “… funny and profane!”

Pen Men knocked it out of the park (not in sales) with rave reviews—the New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Booklist, etc.

Then came the dry spell. I was under a great deal of pressure in my new position at NC State University (where I created and wrote several books for the University) and admittedly not producing anything that New York could or would consider.

Hey I had a day job, two kids in college!

And that’s when, sadly, the agent—who I thought was a friend—just suddenly disappeared from my life (Fred Allen wasn’t kidding), refusing to return my calls, or e-mails.

Turns out it is a business!  And, I might add, one that is becoming tougher by the day.

And as I close this piece I do so with the following thoughts for anyone who has a yen to become a published author:

      • Buy the Writer’s Market then read it from cover to cover.
      • Google How to get a literary agent, it will take you to good advice at:
      • Beware of Vanity Publishers (looking for suckers willing to pay to be published), the Internet is full of them.
      • Look carefully at the agencies (in the book or on the Internet), know their interests and their guidelines and pay attention to what they are suggesting.
      • Make a stop at the Writer’s Market’s HOW TO section on the writing of a query letter or Google that on the Internet and see what Publisher’s Weekly has to say:
      • Should an agency ask for the finished product be sure that it is in fact finished in every sense of the word—-packaged to read, copy edited, etc.
      • Think of this as the book version of the Westminster Dog Show. Have your pet primped and ready to parade in front of judges who will do everything from check out its teeth to grab it in the testicles.

Never forget that literary agencies are in BUSINESS for one reason—to make money and that a first reader in an agency is trained to do one thing—-look for manuscripts that are saleable and of course, writers with the potential to produce other manuscripts that might generate revenue.Be thick skinned, learn to handle rejection (it isn’t personal), be persistent, don’t give up and should you find a good agent be sure to mention my name. I have a finished novel called Animal Home, which I think of as my very best work. That’s what I think but the few agents who have taken a look have yet to agree.

Bob! Remember it isn’t personal!

Ah, guess what popped up on my computer as I was writing this blog. So—thick of skin and still willing after all these years to accept rejection—my search for representation goes on!

Dear Mr. Cairns,

Thank you for querying about Animal Home, your latest novel.  We have evaluated your materials and regrettably, your project is not a right fit for our agency.  We currently have a very full clientele and must be highly selective about the new projects we pursue.

Thank you again for thinking of us.  Please know that we wish you much success in all of your future writing and publishing endeavors.


_________Literary Associates​

Elliot Engel


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Elliot Engel“The odd and misleading title (sorry, potheads) of Stoner by John Williams (1965) refers to the last name of the hero, William Stoner, a turn-of-the-twentieth century English professor in Missouri. Though Stoner’s life is one of nearly unrelieved misery, Williams’ writing is so lyrical and Stoner’s stoicism is so inspiring that you want to adopt this remarkable hero as your mentor and best friend. Not for the happy-go-lucky, this book will make your own life trials seem trivial in comparison. And who of us doesn’t want to escape from our own problems by wallowing in those of a searingly real fictional character who, unfortunately, has been placed in the absolutely best novel you’ve never heard of. And, no, all you persnickety people, I don’t mind ending a sentence with a preposition–Professor Stoner, bless him, would allow it.”

Dr. Elliot Engel, American scholar and a member of England’s prestigious Royal Society of Arts, speaks nationally and internationally on Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain and other literary notables. Engel’s highly entertaining and literary web site can be found at:

Greg Fishel

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GregFishel“There is one page turner from the past that always pops up in my mind. The title is Forecast for Overlord, by J.M. Stagg.  It is the story of a young meteorologist named Stagg in charge of giving General Eisenhower the “go” or “no go” for the D-Day invasion. I believe the account of events in the book mentions that General Rommel returned to Germany to celebrate his wife’s birthday because he didn’t think there was a chance in you know what that the weather would permit an invasion. But Stagg thought he saw a hole, and Eisenhower trusted him. The rest is history.”

Greg Fishel, Chief Meteorologist, WRAL-TV

Jerry Punch


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“One of the books that I read about five years ago, by Robert Poole, was On Hallowed Ground. It is the story of the Arlington National Cemetery. I am such a military history buff that I wanted to read it. It chronicles the early days of the Washington family estate, where Robert E. Lee lived on the bluff overlooking Washington. It describes how Lee was summoned on several occasions to ride his horse into Washington, on the months before the Civil War erupted, and asked to assume the role of commander and chief of the Union forces. It chronicles his repeated response that, ‘I could never take up arms against my native Virginia.’

After he assumed a role as a General of the Confederate army of Virgina, the powers to be turned his home and surrounding grounds into a Union encampment and later a cemetery; thus assuring that it could never be returned to his family as an active farm or plantation site. However, in the early months of the war, Lee on occasion would ride through Federal lines at night to stay in his home with his wife and family. He rode directly past Union guards who never had any idea who he was. This book was revealing and enlightening to someone who revels and respects the storied history of this cemetery. There is no more hallowed ground that that which serves as the final resting place of our heroes; the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom.”

Dr. Jerry Punch, ESPN, NASCAR commentator and motor sports reporter

Alex Roland

alexroland“I recommend two historical fictions that linger in my memory years after I read them:

Thomas Flanagan’s The Year of the French (1979) recreates the conspiracy by Ireland and France to bring the wars of the French Revolution to the British Isles. From the Irish perspective, the plan was to enlist French help in their rebellion against English oppression. From the French perspective, the intervention was designed to open a new front in Britain’s backyard to distract France’s arch enemy from the brewing war of the second coalition. From the British point of view, it was a traitorous stab in the back that posed sufficient danger to warrant swift and ruthless suppression. General Cornwallis was brought out of near retirement to redeem the reputation he lost in the American Revolution. He unleashed a campaign in Ireland that had few rivals for brutality, atrocity, and effectiveness. For Flanagan, a professor of English, “The Year of the French” proved to be the first of three historical novels recounting the hard and bitter modern history of his beloved Ireland.  The novel is thoroughly researched and vividly written. The cruel fate of the Irish conspirators who bet their futures on two small, belated French invasions haunts the memory.

Winston Groom’s Better Times than These (1978) is also a first historical novel by a powerful writer. Better known for his 1986 Forest Gump, Groom was a Vietnam veteran trying to capture his experience in the war when he wrote “Better Times than These,” one of the very best of the countless Vietnam novels. Groom uses familiar structures and devices—young lieutenant, ambitious and venal senior officers, heroic soldiers, and searing battle narratives—to impose a coherent narrative on the small-unit engagements that comprised the American experience in Vietnam. What sets this book apart is its ability to distill the special flavor and apparent senselessness of American military operations in Vietnam in the late 1960s. This is a mature and sophisticated rendering of a complicated topic by a young but masterful author.”

Dr. Alex Roland, Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, has authored numerous books and publications on military history, military technology and space flight. Roland is currently writing a biography of Robert Fulton.

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Jeff Gravley

GravelyphotoI Am Third was written by former Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers along with Al Silverman. If you have ever seen the movie “Brian’s Song,” this book was the inspiration for the movie. It’s a story about an ebony and ivory friendship that grew from football. Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo played the same position, running back, for the Chicago Bears. Sayers was a lightning quick star from Kansas. Piccolo plowed his way into the ACC record books at Wake Forest.

The book details how they became friends, sharing time together away from football. Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer which ended his football career but strengthened his bond with Sayers. I don’t know of anyone who has watched this movie or read this book and not shed a tear as Gale Sayers lost his best friend to cancer. I was drawn to the book by the title, I Am Third. What’s the significance? It comes from the priorities of Gale Sayers. The Lord is first, my friends are second and I am third.

I have a large collection of books written by John Feinstein which includes A Season on the Brink. One, he writes a lot about sports but more because of his writing style. Feinstein is a great storyteller.

He was given total access to a season with Indiana coach Bob Knight, one of the most successful and hot-headed coaches in college basketball. This was one of the first behind the scenes sports books that I can remember. Feinstein was there for every practice and expletive filled tirade that Coach Knight would unleash. Hall of Fame coach Al McGuire summed it up best. When he learned about Feinstein doing the book with Knight he said, ‘With all the time they are going to spend together, they won’t  be speaking to each other by March. My second prediction is that if John survives the season, he will have a terrific book on his hands.’

I don’t think that the author and former coach have spoken since the book was printed in 1985. But I totally agree with Coach Al, it is a terrific book watching a master coach work his craft.”

Jeff Gravley, Sports Anchor, WRAL-TV, and 2015 North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year

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Charlie Gaddy

265728-charliegaddy-400x300[1]“A great book, and one that I have revisited a number of times is Washington Goes To War by David Brinkley. This compelling page-turner by, in my opinion, one of the elite television news writers of all time, is the story of one of the most unique times in our history. Historians define WW ll as THE defining event of the 20th century. Brinkley provides a riveting inside look at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s preparations for wartime, and the transformation of Washington city. FDR held more power for a longer period time than any President in American history.He had no patience for the glacial crawl of the entrenched bureaucracy, over which he installed his New Dealers who often moved with warp speed at the behest of the President.

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Brinkley covers the leaders, the critics, the buffoons, the social scene, even the problem of where the thousands of young people pouring into Washington for wartime jobs would find a place to sleep.

This rare time, when young men enlisted before their draft notices arrived, when Americans accepted shortages of cigarettes, gas and tires, then reached into their wallets to buy war bonds, is perhaps the last time we as a nation were truly united for a common cause.”

Charlie Gaddy, award-winning WRAL television anchor (ret.), named to the Mid-South Emmy Award Silver Circle

Terry Gannon

Terry GannonThe Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd … Ancient Ireland as it should be told: with drama, heartbreak and more than a wee bit of myth.  And Stalingrad by Antony Beevor is a vivid account of a famous battle that will haunt you. Anything by Beevor is a can’t-miss.”

Terry Gannon, Play-by-Play Host, NBC/Golf Channel


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Jonathan Hock


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Jake, by Alfred Slote, is the first book I can remember pulling off the shelf at the public library. I was 8 or 9-years-old. On the surface, it’s a book about little league baseball. But it’s really a story about life: family, authority, race relations, growing up and, ultimately, the endless and universal search for love. Jake taught me that sports stories can be more than game descriptions and hero worship. They can be great human stories. More than any other work, Jake has influenced my own work as a filmmaker, and in every project I’ve done – including SURVIVE AND ADVANCE – there’s a little bit of Jake.”

Jonathan Hock, an eight-time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer and editor, directed SURVIVE AND ADVANCE, the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Jim Valvano’s incredible run to an NCAA basketball championship.