New Book Fuses Spirituality and Science in Key Answers to Finding Purpose, Empowerment, and the Afterlife


MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Inspired by two life-changing transcendental experiences, Paul Corson made it his mission to explore the deepest mysteries of life and the afterlife. Now he’s fusing both spirituality and rational science in a groundbreaking examination of who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going at life’s end in his new book, “Regaining Paradise: Forming a New Worldview, Knowing God, and Journeying Into Eternity” (July 21, 2020).

Corson invites the reader away from a life of restless consumerism and unfulfillment, and toward a journey of self-discovery that illuminates answers to life’s biggest questions: What is reality? What is consciousness? How do we discover our best selves? Do we have free will? What happens after we die? Most importantly, is there a God, and if so, what is the nature/role of this infinite force?

Accessible and engaging, here is a guided journey into self-knowledge, identity, empowerment, and sublime understanding that will open the mind’s eye while sharpening the intellect, a journey to personal fulfillment that bestselling spiritual author Dr. Larry Dossey called an “enormous consolation and inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to read it.”


Corson’s description of his otherworldly experiences have been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, and on local and national TV. As a pharmacist, Corson established a protocol for the treatment of HIV/AIDs. He received the 2000 Philadelphia Hero Award for his contributions in supporting AIDS survivors. Learn more by visiting his website at


“Regaining Paradise: Forming a New Worldview, Knowing God, and Journeying Into Eternity”

Paul Corson 
July 21, 2020
Genre: Spirituality

Hardcover: $33.99 | Paperback: $20.99 | Ebook: $4.99



In an interview, PAUL CORSON can discuss:

  • The transcendental experiences he had at age 10 and age 50 which opened his mind to a higher spiritual power and the true nature of self-discovery
  • How a consumerist society promises self-knowledge and fulfillment–and then by its very nature undermines those promises
  • The necessity of supporting faith and spirituality with rational intellect and scientific knowledge
  • Exploring the nature of the afterlife, and the sublime paradise we experience both before we are born and after our lives end
  • Exploring the nature of God, and the ways in which God can be explored through various religions, spiritual exploration, and scientific inquiry
  • Exploring the nature of consciousness, reality, free will, and energy

An Interview with PAUL CORSON

Can you please describe the transcendental experiences you had at age 10 and age 50 that inspired your current spiritual exploration?

For perspective, my parents were agnostic atheists, as was I, that is, before my transcendent experiences. At both age 10 and age 50, I received distinct messages in my mind that foreshadowed what would happen. At 10 I was led to leave my body and experience the condition of infinity. A moment in time later, I left my body again and was transported to a place beyond the material level: a peaceful, blissful realm.

At age 50, I received a recurring mind message that led to a series of events in which I experienced the place I was in at age 10, and from there I was transported into the white light. At that point I awoke because of the overwhelming intensity of the unconditional love in Heaven.

Still, I felt disappointed because I did not enter into the light. But I was certain that would happen. I just needed to place my trust in the celestial process.

Within a week and I half, upon lying down for the night I entered the white light. I met my deceased father and received an overview of Heaven. I understood in both broad strokes, and also in detail, what I will be experiencing in Heaven.

What are the greatest obstacles to self-discovery and spiritual understanding in our modern, consumerist society?

Vance Packard’s Hidden Persuaders, published in 1967, explained how the advertising industry employs psychoanalytical techniques to sell products. In the past fifty years these techniques have been vastly refined by advertisers, who are driven to increase the bottom line of the corporations that employ them.

From the sixties on the programming of the mind has been unrelenting. In 1988 the late physicist Willis Harman published Global Mind Change in which he observed: “We are literally hypnotized from infancy to perceive the world the way our culture perceives it.”

Wait a minute we may say, are you telling me we’re being brainwashed?

The subtlety of brainwashing or mind control makes the recipient unaware of this intrusion, because this is all taking place on the unconscious level.

The culture of Western society is based on consumerism, which leads us to believe that ownership of the latest and best will lead to satisfaction, contentment. This message is in the air we breathe: it is repeated and reinforced.

The quest for spiritual understanding is derided as being mumbo jumbo by the architects, the movers and shakers of society. It’s inferred that this quixotic quest will divert us from our calling: to revere and attend to our material identity. That’s how we’ve been wired since the time we were young children.

To put it simply: we need to be rewired, which is easier said than done, because the mind resists, both tooth and nail. Ultimately, if the wiring is done tactically with care and delicacy, we can change our priorities. We can heed the ancient Greeks in the sixth century B.C.E. who etched into the stone that formed the archway of the temple of Apollo at Delphi, “Know thyself and thou wilt know the universe and the gods.”

Knowing who we are at our core leads to knowing the god force that created us and the universe.

Some view “faith” and “science” as mutually exclusive. Why do you believe it’s important to support faith / spirituality with rational, scientific inquiry?

Faith and science: Faith is an emotional feeling of trust and certainty, driven by any number of factors, one being an intuitive knowing. Rational, scientific facts are observable, repeatable, and appeal to our intellect, the sensible guardian that we’ve trusted will lead us to truths.

Faith is pulling us in one direction, while the intellect is pulling us vigorously in the opposite direction. In this regard, we’re conflicted, and rightfully so. How can we resolve this matter?

To grasp the all-causative nature of infinity, the intellect will have to reconcile a matter that is essentially beyond its capacity for rational thought. For this to happen, the intellect will have to acknowledge its limitations…but nevertheless yield and reluctantly take it in for review.

Once the intellect has conditionally accepted the separate value of non-empirical evidence, its shift in position opens us to the value of higher intuition; this energizes the human will to exert itself in an endeavor it has been given license to pursue.

How do we resolve the paradox of creation and thus that which is essentially beyond common comprehension?

Faith. The seemingly ‘untraversable’ can be bridged by the power of faith. This is not blind faith in a creed or scripture. Faith, in this case, is a leap of understanding, grounded in higher intuition that is conditionally endorsed by the intellect. Faith allows us to make a further ‘leap.’ Faith grounded in reason allowed me to take this next step in understanding. It can do the same for you.

How can a deeper understanding of the spiritual forces at work in the world (and beyond) benefit one’s personal sense of identity, fulfillment, and empowerment?

Our spiritual sense of self can be heightened when we acknowledge the myth of materiality: “The material cloak—the matter and energy that comprise the body—is not the invincible all-providingness we had believed it to be. That could be emotionally dispiriting because we are likely to believe that life itself and, correspondingly, conscious awareness, the “soul” of who one is, is somehow unexplainably packaged with the matter and energy of the body.

Giving thought to what has been presented, we may consider that consciousness, the scintillating living moment of awareness we experience, might not be a product or by-product of a material process as materialists insist. Instead, consciousness and life itself is an expression of the ‘magical part’ that derives from the otherworldly causal realm.

If we are to embrace the knowledge of our ultimate origin, our true heritage, we must shatter, bit by bit, the timeworn myth that materiality has mystical powers and is preeminent.

Understanding that at our most basic level we are radiating orbs of (divine) energy that is part of an infinite, all-creative source, impacts the way we identify with ourselves and relate to all people. We recognize that we share the same heritage, that we’re all sustained by the same force; we’re linked as cosmic brothers and sisters.

What is the most important thing you hope readers learn from ‘Regaining Paradise’?

The way we interact with people reflects the way we see ourselves on the most fundamental level of our existence. You may believe that you have a fairly good sense of who you are. When you pass by a mirror you may neaten your hair a touch and continue with your day. That’s nothing unusual; I can relate to that, you might think. But, if you see only the image of your self-reflection on those occasions, then you have been missing something truly significant; you have not seen yourself in your entirety. To be more direct, we have an unalienable right to know who and what we are—to know about the unseen ‘better half’—the magical part that enables us to function as conscious, thinking individuals with free will.

The magical half: Consciousness that is weightless and spaceless, did not obtain from the matter and energy, or from the natural forces in the universe since that would be a violation of the most basic universal laws of conservation. By reason that leaves open only one possibility: the life force and consciousness became imbedded into this level by a higher level force from an otherworldly level.

That means, we’ve all received that magical touch, which by definition means we’re veritable miracles. Realizing the sublime divineness that radiates at our very core will motivate us to express ourselves in accordance with that identity.

Praise for  “Regaining Paradise”

“‘[Regaining Paradise]’ resonates deeply with my own views. I am confident, based on what we know about the nonlocal nature of consciousness, that some form of immortality is not optional but is mandated. Paul obviously realizes this and is bold and erudite in asserting it. This book will be of enormous consolation and inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to read it.”

–Larry Dossey, M.D, Author of ‘One Mind: How Our Individual Mind is Part of a Greater Consciousness’ and ‘Why It Matters’ (Hay House, 2013).

“Paul Corson presents a unique, intuitive look at eternal questions: creation, infinity, and what happens after we die…Against the background of scientific thought and rational perspective, Corson further addresses the importance of enlightened spirituality, while successfully avoiding the traps that diminish the value of most religious traditions. He recognizes the power of what we all share, and successfully creates a perspective that allows our differences to exist without causing dissension and turmoil. His vision of the world we could create if we are able to adopt this perspective carries the power of hope for our future.”

–Marc D. Baldwin, Ph.D. in American Literature.

“In this expansive book ‒ combining science, physics, logical reasoning, and intuition ‒ Paul Corson bids the reader to step outside their usual range of experience and journey with him to the limits of the cosmos. The ideas set forth here are clearly and successfully articulated and thoroughly referenced.”

–Bill Reinsmith, Ph.D., award-winning essayist and Professor of Philosophy at the Philadelphia University of the Sciences authored ‘A Harmony Within: Five Who Took Refuge: A Study in Creative Withdrawal’.

“This book is a brilliant explanation concerning the mysteries of our existence. Corson’s observations are backed by science as well as reason. He addresses the transcendent realm not from the platform of Earth, but from a place beyond the circle of the universe. Corson’s unique perspective recognizes the suprauniversal factors beyond universal time that are genesis for our material existence as well as the source of our spiritual immortality. His genius lies in explaining the origin and nature of universal time and its infinite source. For those who seek answers to existential questions of purpose and meaning, and whether there is actually an Other Side, I highly recommend this book.”

–Wanda Woodward, Ph.D. Philosophy. Author of The Anatomy of The Soul: An Authentic Psychology and The Human Soul: An Ontological Exegenesis of Transcendence

“Having read Paul Corson’s book, ‘Touched by God,’ I was eager to read his current book and was not disappointed. In it he expands upon his scientifically based theological studies which, while complicated to a non-scientist like myself, are well worth taking the time and effort to grasp. His writing is intelligent and inspired ‒ enough to make an agnostic such as myself reconsider my philosophy of life and find hope for a compassionate and meaningful universe.”

–Jamie Brambly, Director of the Fulton County Regional Library, McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania

16 books we’re reading in summer 2020

Summer is in full swing, and that means summer reading is too! Whether you’re searching for a hot new release (may we suggest a few of our fantastic Books Forward authors below!), or you’re craving a fresh dip into a hit from summers-past, we’ve got you covered! Here’s what we’re reading in summer 2020: 

Ellen Whitfield, Senior Publicist 

Adult Conversation by Brandy Ferner (Fiction)

What mom doesn’t need a quick trip to Vegas right now? Brandy’s book is the perfect pandemic read for moms like me who were a little overwhelmed by their families BEFORE they were quarantined with them. Add in a therapist with her own issues, and a Thelma-and-Louise-style trip and you get a great summer read that’s a dose of fun with some deeper themes.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (Fantasy) 

To me, a book set by the ocean will always be a perfect summer read. I think everyone can identify with the themes of belonging in this book, and the fantasy elements add so much fun to the mix. Linus Baker is a simple man living a simple life as a case worker who checks on magical children living in orphanages. But when he gets sent on a very secret mission to an island, the inhabitants and their secrets change everything for him. 

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (Young Adult)

For some reason, I read a lot of YA books during the summer months, and Felix has been a standout for me so far. I read the library book in a day and immediately ordered my own copy because I loved it with my whole heart. Felix is a trans teen attending a prestigious art school and struggling with his identity on top of the typical teen complications. He also wants desperately to fall in love, but when he starts to receive harassment — both in real life and online — he worries he’ll never truly be accepted for himself.  

Angelle Barbazon, Lead Publicist 

The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman (Thriller, releasing Aug. 18)

Every time Jenny Milchman releases a new book, it shoots straight to the top of my reading list, and The Second Mother is no exception! Exploring themes of isolation and survival, this summer thriller follows a schoolteacher who attempts to outrun her past by accepting a job on a remote island off the coast of Maine, only to discover her new community isn’t quite as safe and welcoming as it seems. Jenny Milchman proves once again that she’s a master of suspense!

Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn (Historical Nonfiction)

I’m looking forward to digging through my TBR pile this summer and finally cracking open a few books that I’ve been meaning to read for years. First up is Eleanor and Hick, which I randomly discovered sitting in a Little Free Library last summer, and it’s been on my bookshelf ever since. The book follows the love affair between the ever-fascinating Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, a journalist who was assigned to cover the First Lady. This is a piece of history I never heard about, so I was automatically drawn to their story, and I can’t wait to read more.

Hunting Teddy Roosevelt by James A. Ross (Historical Fiction, releasing July 31)

If you can’t travel this summer because of the coronavirus, let James A. Ross whisk you away to the savannahs, jungles and deserts of Africa in “Hunting Teddy Roosevelt.” This historical fiction novel is based on an obscure true story about an assassination attempt during Roosevelt’s post-presidency hunting expedition that’s not found in most history books. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re looking for a book brimming for larger-than-life characters, an exotic locale and thoughtful writing, pick this one up!

Jennifer Vance, Publicist 

The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge (Thriller)

Time to let y’all in on a little secret: I took martial arts for about eight years when I was growing up — it was seriously a huge part of my life. So reading about a tough and cunning modern-day Ninja like Lily Wong not only took me back to my glory days of summer karate tournaments, it also kept me on the edge of my seat and reminded me how awesome it is to read about fierce women fighting for justice. I’m excited book 2 in the series, The Ninja’s Blade, is out Sept.1 so Lily’s story can continue!

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Fiction, releasing Sept. 1)

After a million friends telling me to, I finally read Homegoing this year by Gyasi, and I hate myself for waiting so long — it’s hands down one of my favorite books of the past five years. So I’m excited to bookend my summer with her newest, Transcendent Kingdom. Following a Ghanian family of immigrants living in Alabama, the novel touches on themes of faith, science, love and religion, all wrapped up in Gyasi’s exquisite prose. I’m going to be anxiously waiting by my mailbox for this one to arrive. 

Jackie Karneth, Publicist 

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Nonfiction, Memoir)

The most visceral, exhilarating, and painful short stories I’ve ever read can be found within Machado’s 2017 collection, Her Body and Other Parties. I’m overjoyed and grateful for the chance to experience her writing again, this time in the form of her memoir, which draws from her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. Abuse in queer relationships is often downplayed or overlooked entirely. Yet Machado’s heart-wrenching recollection lays it all out for the reader, while also tacking on her characteristic wit and humor.

Finding Hemingway by Ken Dortzbach (Fiction, Rom-Com)

This rom-com set in Spain is exactly what you need to escape to Europe from the comfort of your own home. In a magical-realist twist, Ken Dortzbach sends his protagonist — highly talented lawyer, Callie McGraw — on a whirlwind adventure after she receives a mysterious phone call from Ernest Hemingway. This endearing tale of friendship, experiencing new cultures, and finding oneself is one you’ll want to loan to your best friend after reading.

The Way You Burn by Christine Meade (Fiction)

If the main characters from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park had met in their 20s, it might look something like this debut new adult novel. A gorgeously well-written tale that brings back vivid memories of my childhood in New Hampshire, this book is told from the point of view of David as he remembers the ups and downs of his relationship with a woman named Hope. Also a tale of family secrets, this book has a brightly burning emphasis on how gender impacts our lives. 

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters (Young Adult, releasing July 14)

I swear when you hear what this book is about, you’ll be ready to bump this up to the top spot on your summer TBR. A young adult novel with LGBTQ representation, this eerie read follows Shady Grove, who has the unusual ability to call ghosts using a fiddle. Like a true Southern Gothic tale, it’s evocative and atmospheric with a strong focus on family history and secrets. Do yourself a favor and pre-order this baby like no tomorrow.

Lana Allen, Executive Administrator

Gyroscope of Life by David Parrish (Literary Nonfiction)

This unique book is a beautiful and insightful ode to biology and the joy of learning. Parrish tackles concepts relating to biology and agriculture while sharing his personal experiences with religion, battling illness and more, proving not only that science is relevant to daily life, but that it profoundly impacts all of our lives.

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (Nonfiction)

I’m a big fan of historian and journalist Rutger Bregman and I can’t wait to dig into his latest work! Bregman makes the case that our greatest asset as a species is our capacity for kindness and cooperation.  In these trying times, his hopeful message could not be more timely! 

Hannah Robertson, Publicist 

The Moon Always Rising by Alice C. Early (Fiction)

I was immediately drawn into Alice C. Early’s The Moon Always Rising. Her descriptions and character development are both incredibly lush, and, even though I didn’t actually take a vacation, the way she describes the little island of Nevis made me feel like I had. This story is full of heartbreak but also hope, and that’s the most important thing. Her ethereal elements and the setting make this the perfect summer or beach read, but I’ll be recommending it all year long!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Literary Fiction)

This book is my white whale. Years ago when I worked in a bookstore, a customer with eerily similar reading tastes as me recommended this title, and ever since this book has been sitting on my nightstand waiting to be picked up. I’ve tried a few times but it was never the right time. With the current situation, I’ve been leaning more on fantasy and magic to take me away, but recently I’ve been drawn to its story and it’s currently at the top of my TBR list for this summer. Don’t worry, I’ll be reading it with tissues at the ready.

Whirlwind literary adventure colors one woman’s journey to Spain in romantic comedy “Finding Hemingway”


“Superb… Dortzbach spins a charming fictional tale in ‘Finding Hemingway’ that is equal parts travelogue and self-discovery memoir, with just enough fantasy to make the story sparkle”
– Readers’ Favorite (5-star review)

MILWAUKEE, WI – A romantic comedy with a touch of magical realism, Ken Dortzbach’s debut novel Finding Hemingway (Cloister Inn Publishing, July 7, 2020) sends its protagonist on a life-changing adventure after she receives a mysterious phone call from Ernest Hemingway.

Hyper-focused, overachieving New York lawyer Callie McGraw has six months between jobs and a hefty severance check when she is called to Spain by Ernest Hemingway. She begins packing her bags for the sun-kissed streets that night. Starting in Barcelona, Callie embarks on a six-month escapade of a lifetime, a whirlwind of Spanish food, wine, art and dancing, with a revolving cast of friends and lovers keeping her company in each new locale. Callie’s next cocktail is never far away, but Hemingway knows her secrets, the demons that plague her deep down. With each mysterious call and each enigmatic clue, Hemingway challenges her to open herself to laughter, passion and love. Ultimately, he defies Callie to face her greatest fears and embrace life on her own terms.

A vividly drawn ode to both Spanish culture and the soul-striking spark of a good book, Finding Hemingway showcases the empowering story of one woman’s journey to self-acceptance and fulfillment.

“Heartwarming… ‘Finding Hemingway’ is a romantic travel adventure with a magical realism twist”
– Foreword Clarion Reviews

“Finding Hemingway”
Ken Dortzbach | July 7, 2020 | Cloister Inn Publishing | Women’s Fiction
Paperback | 978-1-733-624-7-0-1

About the Author

KEN DORTZBACH: Ken Dortzbach is a native of Madison, Wisconsin. A graduate of Princeton University and the Northwestern University School of Law, he practiced law internationally for almost twenty years, including living abroad and working in countries across the globe. During that time, he found a special appreciation for Spain’s history and culture; when it came time to pen his first novel, the country became the perfect backdrop for his book. In combining his passion for Spain with his longstanding interest in Ernest Hemingway, Finding Hemingway was born. He has two kittens—along with two grown children. Ken and his wife now live in Wisconsin and divide their time between Milwaukee and Madison; they enjoy traveling far and wide together. To learn more about Ken’s work, please visit:

In an interview, Ken Dortzbach can discuss:

  • How his career practicing international law may have aided him in writing this book
  • His love for Spanish culture, including Spanish food, art, dance, and microtheater, and how he vividly captures it all on the page
  • His experience running with the bulls in Pamplona
  • His appreciation for Ernest Hemingway
  • His experience writing women’s fiction as a male author
  • Where the inspiration for Callie’s story came from
  • What’s next for him in his writing career

An Interview with Ken Dortzbach

1. Why did you place the book in Spain?

Spanish culture is one of the many cultures I love. The Spanish have a certain skill at living in the moment. So often we do things we need to do — save for retirement, eat right, exercise. Sometimes you just want to do something because you want to do it and you are passionate about it. Sometimes you want to be a little Spanish.

2. Why write women’s fiction?

As I mapped out the story I wanted to tell I realized it worked better with a woman as the main character. It just felt right. But it is not just a book for women. It is a book for anyone who likes to read. My wife teased me that I wrote a “chick book,” but I told her I wrote a book about personal growth and development where the main character happens to be a woman. Callie McGraw is awesome.

3. What inspired this book?

I have had a longstanding interest in Ernest Hemingway. I also have an appreciation for many cultures, one of which is Spanish culture. It made the perfect backdrop for the book and the plot. I was also oddly inspired by the post-impressionist landscape paintings of French painter Paul Cézanne. When you look at his pre-Cubist landscape paintings you see a bunch of block forms and you say, “Hey, those are just a bunch of block forms.” But when you look harder you see how he defines shape and you see more details. I tried to take a similar approach with some parts of my book. For example, most of the characters don’t have last names. Sometimes certain details can distract from the story or what you are trying to develop.

4. Who will enjoy this book?

This book would be enjoyed by anyone who likes to read and is intrigued by Spain. The main character, Callie McGraw, has a special relationship with the book The Sun Also Rises. That provides the basis for part of the story, and it goes from there as you learn more about her and her life. The book is basically a quirky romantic comedy centered around female empowerment. It is a book for people who love books and love to read. It is a book for people who have wrestled with challenges and overcome them. It is a book for people who have fallen in love or want to fall in love.

Author pulls from family history, challenges gender norms, and explores inherited trauma in noir historical fiction


Sacramento, CA – In Copy Boy (June 23, 2020, She Writes Press), a story of escape, disguise, and coming of age, lecturer and author Shelley Blanton-Stroud follows Jane, a desperate girl seeking work in the Great Depression. Repeatedly turned away from employment, she disguises herself as a boy to get hired, raising questions on women’s struggles in the workplace and how gender norms influence social expectations, then and now, as well as the role of crisis in developing resilience.

Jane leaves her messy family life behind to find work as a newspaper copy boy in San Francisco. Creating a new identity as a man opens new opportunities for her, and Jane uses her disguise to escape crimes she may or may not have committed. Things are looking up…until her father’s picture appears in the paper and threatens her safety and new way of life.

Pulling from her own family’s Dust Bowl history, Blanton-Stroud exposes the need and the cost of ambition and competition through a proactive female protagonist fighting for what she wants. Throughout her career, she has amplified the writing of countless others through teaching college writing in Northern California, consulting with writers in the energy industry, serving on the advisory board of 916 Ink, and co-directing Stories on Stage Sacramento — all leading up to her own electric debut.

Copy Boy
Shelley Blanton-Stroud | June 23, 2020 | She Writes Press | Historical Fiction, Noir
Print ISBN: 978-1-63152-697-81 | Paperback Price: $16.95
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-63152-698-5 | Ebook Price: $9.95

More about Shelley Blanton-Stroud

SHELLEY BLANTON-STROUD grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. She teaches college writing in Northern California and consults with writers in the energy industry. She co-directs Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serves on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children. She has also served on the Writers’ Advisory Board for the Belize Writers’ Conference. Copy Boy is her first novel, and she’s currently working on her second. She also writes and publishes flash fiction and non-fiction, which you can find at such journals as Brevity and Cleaver. She and her husband live in Sacramento with an aging beagle and many photos of their out-of-state sons. To get to know Shelley Blanton-Stroud and her writing better, visit her at

Early Praise

“This is Raymond Chandler for feminists.” — Sharma Shields, award-winning author of The Cassandra

Copy Boy is a rewarding historical novel with a ferocious, fascinating lead.” — 4-star Foreword Clarion Review

“An expressive and striking story that examines what one does for family and for oneself.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A stellar debut. Combining the best elements of noir, historical, and coming-of-age fiction, Blanton-Stroud has written a compelling, nuanced story that transports readers to San Francisco in the 1930s. Deftly plotted and expertly executed, Copy Boy is as mesmerizing as the moment when the fog lifts over Nob Hill. Highly recommended.” — Sheldon Siegel, New York Times best-selling author of the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez Mystery Series

“Copy Boy is a fantastic story of a young woman’s survival and reinvention. Blanton-Stroud’s prose sings and crackles and brings us into the world of Jane with so much compassion and beauty and wisdom. An engaging, wonderfully original book.” — Karen E. Bender, author of The New Order, long-listed for the Story Prize, and Refund, a National Book Award finalist

“Full of adventure, chutzpah, historical detail, and, most of all, heart, Copy Boy is a thrilling, Depression-era coming-of-age story well suited to our times.” — Maggie Shen King, award-winning author of An Excess Male

Shelley Blanton-Stroud’s Copy Boy is one of those novels that can rekindle your faith in fiction. Her distinctive voice, command of historical details, and sheer storytelling verve show through on every page. Maybe this exact story never happened, but it should have—in exactly this way. A bravura debut—I’m expecting great things from this author. —David Corbett, award-winning author of The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday.

In an interview, Shelley Blanton-Stroud can discuss:

  • Her family’s dust bowl history and how that influences her writing
  • Grit and resilience and their connection to success
  • Women at work
  • Gender stereotypes and fluidity
  • Why noir is right for now
  • Her experience amplifying writers and why she tells her own story now
  • Book clubs and their effect on reading life
  • Jane’s struggle between her ambition and desire to connect
  • Themes of fact vs. fiction and how they relate to the novel

An Interview with Shelley Blanton-Stroud

1. What is your novel’s origin story? How did your family’s dust bowl history influence you and your book?

As a boy, my father lived in a Hooverville tent camp near Wasco, California, convenient to the cotton fields where his family picked. One day, his friend’s mother asked the two boys to get rid of his friend’s daddy, who was drunk again, spending their picking money, putting them further at risk. She told them to drive the man 30 miles south and leave him there by the side of the road. Though they didn’t know how to drive, they did what she said. This was the seed of my novel.

2. Women in the book behave unconventionally. Is this a modern sensibility or did women in the Depression-era act this way?

Depression era photographer, Dorothea Lange—inspiration for one of my characters—used the male pronoun to describe herself. She called herself he and him, explaining that doing so made her believe in her own ability to take the pictures that improved conditions for people living without homes along the side of the road. Women have always behaved unconventionally if they wanted to achieve significant things. It has always been necessary, and it has always created trouble.

3. As a reporter, Jane makes up evidence. What are you saying about facts and truth?

Documentary photographer Dorothea Lange took a quote from Sir Francis Bacon as her credo: “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.” Yet her artistic eye led her to compose photographs, moving things out of the camera’s view. She was a historian of the contemporary. This selectivity is part of what makes her photographs so compelling. Historians have always shaped selected facts into narratives that align with their own point of view. We all choose where to look, consciously or unconsciously.

In my novel, Copy Boy, my main character, Jane, lies to survive. In the Great Depression, she remakes herself, reinvents herself, becoming a man, changing her name. And, as a result, she gets good work at a newspaper and begins to thrive in the lie. But her willingness to dismiss the gap between fact and truth in that profession creates trouble. The way she negotiates the gap reveals her character. Or maybe it creates it. As it now does for all of us.

4. Many Dust Bowl migrants are still alive. How was their situation like or unlike the situation of homeless Californians today?

There are differences. But the core elements are the same—people have lost their shelter, the very basis of what is necessary to survive, often due to economic facts outside their control. These people, aiming to survive, don’t have the basics they need to get back on their feet. And on top of that struggle they are judged and hated. Now, as then. But also, as a result of this
hardship, some will be crippled in their life’s trajectory, never recovering what or who they
might have been. Others will be made stronger, more resilient, by the test.

5. Does Jane’s cross-dressing mean she’s questioning her gender? If not, how should we see it?

I conceived of Jane cross-dressing not because she is consciously exploring her sexuality or her gender, but because she feels that she is better able to survive and thrive as a man than as a woman, that it is easier to do so as a man. I believe Jane would have many lovers, men and women, in her life, secretly, but also more freely than most women would have because she is surrounded by artistic creatives who, even in the Depression era, were given a bit more latitude. But for me, the main thrust of that choice, for Jane to wear a fedora and suit, was to see who she was capable of becoming without the limitation a woman faces.

6. Why is noir relevant now?

Noir is back. You may know it as a literary and film genre of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye and Farewell My Lovely come to mind. But the genre cycles back when cultural conditions are right, shifting in its particulars according to the zeitgeist.

I love the way novelist Megan Abbott explains it—”In noir, everyone is fallen, and right and wrong are not clearly defined and maybe not even attainable.” Today many of our traditionally moral institutions—government, elections, churches, universities—are doubted and rejected as not worthy of authority. This is a noir sort of world, when a person must struggle to get as close to “right” as possible.

7. You have quite the extensive career helping other writers, what inspired you to write Jane’s story now?

I was a reader first. Though I always dreamt of being a writer, I did not believe in my own ability to make that happen. So I organized my life around being writing-adjacent, guiding other writers into making successful choices. It wasn’t until my husband’s heart failure that we both agreed, if there was something we wanted to do, we’d better get around to doing it.

Backyard or battleground? From the piles of mysterious recluse comes an adventure so epic, no dwarf, fairy, nor dragon can take it on alone

For Arty to miss a day of school, either he is very, very sick or a fairytale-character turf-war has begun in his backyard — such as what begins this particular Wednesday. First, he finds an ax-swinging, bearded, sweaty warrior Dwarf scaring his dogs. Soon enough, Emma, Cry and other middle-school friends also find fairy creatures — Elves, Spriggans, Pixies, and a hoped-for Dragon — crashing into their normal homework-doing, backpack-carrying, phone-charging schooldays.

Why are these magical beings here? What should be done? Is that axe sharp? Can Pixies be given aspirin?
Arty with his friends — and spying jerks, and questionable strangers with long names — follow the clues and try to find out, even as things turn dark and dangerous.

The mythical beings are taking sides. The Gwyllion, that legendary Old Woman of the Mountains, has a sinister plan, turning the neighborhood into a fantasy battleground. One that awaits young heroes.

Professor Welkin Westicotter Marplot, of Coillemuir, Scotland, is a collector of esoteric tales of global wisdom and curator of ancient manuscripts. He is a recluse and, as he claims, has been collecting and collating adventure and fantasy stories for over a century.

Mother’s memoir charts a path of hope and self-discovery through personal trauma and a child’s chronic illness


Los Angeles, CA — Anna Penenberg was a dancer, single mother, and therapist dedicated to healing trauma. But when her 16-year-old daughter, Dana, begins showing symptoms of a mysterious illness, Anna becomes engulfed in a trauma more astonishing than she had ever imagined.

“Dancing In The Narrows” (July 7, 2020, She Writes Press) is the story of a single mother’s love and persistence in the face of fear. Anna and her daughter struggle against a debilitating illness with no known cure. In search of wellness, mother and daughter must navigate the labyrinthine world of the American medical system and beyond.

“Dancing in the Narrows” is a touching memoir recounting Anna’s perseverance as she struggles to maintain her relationship with her direly ill daughter. As her condition worsens, mother and daughter embark on a tumultuous journey to find a cure. Full of adventure, laughter, terror, and sheer grit, “Dancing In The Narrows” is a poignant chronicle of Dana and Anna’s multiyear odyssey toward healing.

More about Anna Penenberg and Dancing in the Narrows

“Dancing in the Narrows”
Anna Penenberg | July 7, 2020 | She Writes Press
Paperback | 978-1-63152-838-5 | $16.95
E-book |B07VN5LC5X | $8.99

About the Author

Anna Penenberg is a healer by nature and her training is dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by trauma. Her approach integrates neurobiology, psychotherapy, and wisdom traditions into personal pathways of re-patterning. Anna’s métier is the relational field, providing safety, cadence, and dimension in the therapeutic exchange. Navigating the dynamics of trauma through this unique work addresses suffering at its core, fostering compassionate healing connections with oneself and others.

Anna holds a BA in Psychology and MA in Dance Therapy from UCLA and certifications in Marriage & Family Therapy, Body-Mind Centering®, Infant Developmental Movement, and Kundalini Yoga & Meditation. She is the mother of two adult daughters and lives in Topanga, California. Dancing in the Narrows is her first book.

In an interview, Anna Penenberg can discuss:

  • Her unique therapeutic methods and approach to spiritual healing
  • The importance of self-care and dealing with trauma
  • Alternative therapies for dealing with chronic illness
  • Her personal experiences dealing with Lyme disease and the American healthcare system
  • Cultivating healthy relationships with our children, motherhood, and the mother-daughter bond
  • The importance of hope and resilience in the face of trauma and insurmountable uncertainty

An Interview with Anna Penenberg

1. What drew you into healing? How do you approach trauma healing?
I have always been fascinated with how humans grow and develop. I also find all relationships within the human capacity inspiring and feel a need to support healthy relations.

My approach integrates neurobiology, psychotherapy, and wisdom traditions into personal pathways of re-patterning. I work with the relational field, providing safety, cadence, and dimension in the therapeutic exchange. I have developed a sophisticated method of soul retrieval to restore somatic, psychological, and emotional balance—unearthing traumatic fragments held by the inner child and within the physical body. Navigating the dynamics of trauma through this unique work addresses suffering at its core, fostering compassionate healing connections with oneself and others.

2. How does one practice self care when they are consumed with caring for a loved one?

You practice self-care ten minutes here and 10 minutes there, when your loved one is sleeping and sometimes when you can get another to relieve you of care-taking. As a parent of an ill child, I soaked in an Epsom salt bath at night when she was asleep and even read a light story. I also took short walks, swam in a pool, ate well and maintained friendships over phone and text in brief moments when I wasn’t needed by my daughter. It is the little things that help, like cutting a rose from the garden and putting it in a vase where you can see it.

3. How has your own trauma influenced your therapeutic approach?

Without intention I became my own teacher as I witnessed myself going through a very traumatic time. I, my own experiment, as I sensed and felt numb, terror and tiny breaks from fight, flight and freeze. I worked on myself all the time, through focusing my mind and conscious breathing. I developed a keen sense of the layers of trauma. I used multiple modalities to unwind my discomfort, recognize inner constriction, and beliefs that held me back. I learned how to sustain my system health in dire situations and this has deeply informed my work.

4. What did you learn about yourself from taking care of your chronically ill daughter?

I am determined, and have more strength, courage and guts than I ever thought in the face of potentially losing my daughter. There is a place in me that is made of steel, that does not bend when the stakes are high and the right thing needs to be done.

5. What gives you hope?

Life itself gives me hope. It is a powerful force, sometimes with a delicate balance but always with soul and purpose. I believe everyone is here for a reason and that gives me hope.

What to expect leading up to your book launch

The day a book launches is one of the most exciting of an author’s career, but the weeks leading up to it can be nerve-wracking. Knowing what to expect can help give you a sense of calm as you move into “launch month.”

I like to describe the publicity leading up to your publication date like a snowball: it starts out rather small and moves slowly, but as you get closer, momentum and size build up.

First, many readers prefer to wait until launch day or launch week to cross-post reviews (Amazon actually doesn’t allow reviews to post before then, although other sites do). This burst of reviews in a short period of time can be beneficial; it’s similar to advertising, and the sudden, frequent exposure to the book’s cover and title can lead to more orders!

Second, local media publications in your area are more likely to post a review or blurb about the book near the launch date, in order to create a more timely hook for their newscycle.

So how can you help build the momentum?

Check in with your network of family and friends around this time to ask them to help spread the word about your book. They can do this through Goodreads reviews, social media outreach, or good old-fashioned word of mouth. Many of your supporters will want to help you during this time, but they might need you to tell them how.

Post regularly on social media. Prior to launch, you may have been posting about your book on social media less frequently in order to not overwhelm your followers. However, the weeks leading up to your launch is the time to really use those platforms to display your excitement and share this part of your journey! You should also use social media to share any reviews, and to thank the people who wrote them.

Make sure your website is fully updated and running smoothly. As more people hear about your book, your website is likely to have more visits. Make sure buy links (including IndieBound) are displayed prominently to give you the best chance at getting those orders! If you have a reader newsletter, make sure that you have a system in place to capture email addresses of anyone who wants to subscribe.

Be savvy about making your book launch event a success. Encourage your contacts in the area to come, and to spread the word about the event to their networks as well. Stores appreciate when events gather a crowd, and it gives you an opportunity to spread your message beyond your circle. Ask the store what format usually works best for them, whether it’s a short reading, a Q&A, a conversation, etc.

Bring bookmarks and extra pens for signing, and a notepad to take down any email addresses for contacts you may make. Plus some water and mints–you’ll be doing a lot of talking!

In the wake of COVID-19, many stores are offering virtual events instead of in-person events, which is a great option to reach a wider audience beyond where you can travel! Even if an event is virtual, we still recommend being strategic about when, where, and with whom you set up events: you want to make sure you can draw an audience, so that it is a good investment for you and the bookstore.

If the bookstore doesn’t set up a Facebook event for your launch, you should set one up yourself! It’s a great way to let a wide audience know about your launch, and you can include a lot of information in one place.

And most of all, remember to enjoy yourself! This is a special time, and at the end of the day, nothing can diminish your hard work, creativity, and the amazing accomplishment of releasing your own book!

Literary PR Company Books Forward Makes Three New Hires

Company celebrates 20-year anniversary with staff expansion & new services 

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – Literary publicity company Books Forward (part of the veteran JKS Communications brand) has hired three new staff members for its growing team.

Rhodes Murphy has joined the Books Forward team as a publicist. He holds both undergraduate and Master’s degrees in English Literature, from Loyola University and Tulane University respectively. He has written for both national and local publications, including Slate and Document Journal, with a particular focus on covering the LGBTQ community. Like his Books Forward colleagues, Murphy is driven by a passion to help marginalized voices be heard.

Erica Martin has joined Books Forward as office administrator. Martin brings a wealth of energy and creativity to the team in her role, where she coordinates special projects and oversees creative book mailings to media and industry influencers. Her background managing teams and leading client and customer communications in property management and political campaigns, coupled with her love of literature, have proven essential to supporting the Books Forward team and brand.

Rachel Hutchings has joined Books Forward as a digital marketing strategist after two semesters of interning with the company. Hutchings graduated from Belmont University with a major in Publishing and a minor in Psych. She previously worked on the Belmont Story Review, and interned with independent publishing company American Blackguard Inc. Hutchings now helps Books Forward clients cultivate and establish their digital voice, working hand-in-hand with authors to ensure authenticity in their online presence. She is constantly finding innovative ways to promote author brands and their books.

Books Forward celebrates 20 years of innovative literary promotion in 2020 with a new name, new team members with publishing and media expertise, and new expanded services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the forward-thinking publicity team launched a Virtual Learning Author Program to provide free at-home education, as well as the #BooksForwardHelpline to help readers support indie bookstores and libraries, troubleshoot e-readers, and connect with great new book recommendations.

About Books Forward: Books Forward is an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, the company helps authors find success and connect with readers. Interested in what’s possible for your book sales and building readership? Check out the Books Forward author services, submit a query form with your individual author brand goals, and get a customized publicity campaign.

What can authors do to make the most of their time stuck at home?

We at Books Forward know how important this time is for our authors and readers alike. People are going back to basics and reading more than ever (let’s take that good news where we can!).  Sitting at home, readers are wondering “What can I read today?” while Authors are wondering “How can these readers get a copy of my book?” We are here to be that clotheslines between the two! Grab your pegs and pulley that fresh book into their (hopefully) clean hands with a few of these easy tips!


Start with your reader –  Who  are they?! And find them! 

  1. Who is your audience? What do they look like? What stores do they shop at? How old are they? Are they married, single,  young, old…  You get the point! Narrow down that audience as best as you can and go after that using hashtags and similar accounts.
  2. Comparable authors – This is a trick that can help you not only find your audience, but find out what works best for that author, which in turn could work well for you! What content are they posting? Where do they get the most engagement? Follow some of their audience and engage. 


We live in a very visual society – which *err* doesn’t really help us wordsmiths –  but if a visual photo is going to give them incentive to read your caption or better yet your book then we have to think about the immediate bait. With some extra free time at home, why not try to snap a few good photos for content? If a photo is going to get your readers hooked, then let’s reel them in.

Tips for photos:

  • Lighting! Lighting! Lighting! In this day and age, most smart phones carry a quality camera. However, to get the best quality of the camera, you need to take pictures in natural lighting. Move your camera around different angles to see how the light affects your photo. Shoot outside if that helps (*Insiders Tip*  A photographer’s favorite day, is overcast – not too bright and not  too gloomy)
  • Editing Apps: You can download free editing apps such as ColorStory, Afterlight and VSCO but to avoid being overly complicated, most phones have an editing option right in the photo. 
  • Editing Tips:
    • Lightning: Don’t brighten it too much, but adding a little extra can make your photo look extra professional!
    • Crop: Don’t be shy to take a photo as is and use the crop tool to clean it up!
  • Content: Not every photo has to be a perfect photo, people want to see the real you so feel free to share a recipe here and there, your writing setup, your morning coffee routine,, your family – anything that may pull readers in to who you are and how you write. Inspire them!

Easy Photo Examples:

1- Flat Lay: Greenery, or flowers can help bring color to your photo! Place your book on a stool, a chair or table – add greenery around it and voila!

2- Add in textures and colors that you have lying around the house! Where’s your reading spot? Maybe your writing desk? A fun angle: Hold out your book  below using one hand, and snapping the photo with your other:)

3- Use different covers and mediums of how you can listen or read your book!

4- Furry Friends are welcome! People love pets – sneak in those hashtags of your dog’s breed and find new followers that love books &  pets too!

5- Bookstacks – Share with your readers, what you’re reading or what inspires you! Sharing your name and associating with other authors always gives good perception. Tag them and see if they repost it!

6- Don’t be too shy to get in the shot! Set up a timer or have a friend/family member to take a picture of you writing or reading. Get that book plug in there too  by having it somewhere in the frame;)!

Instagram LIVE

This is a great new tool for creatives. Although, it may seem terrifying to go live – It’s a great way to  connect! *just remember to turn on AND off the camera*

Here are a few ways you can use this tool:

1- Pair up with another author! They can be in the Books Forward family or a fellow author you know. Schedule a time, share it with your fans on both socials and choose to ask each  other questions about the writing process, or any chapters in your book etc. You  can have a theme or it can just be a quick happy hour chat!

2- The new donation button – This tool is a great way to get readers to buy  your book on the spot. OR, you  can use this tool to pick a charity and raise money during your Live. Team up and Tag! 

Facebook LIVE

Again, another great tool to reach out to people on that platform! You can do a  reading hour, where you read and discuss a section of your book, throw a launch party, cook your favorite meal- anything that helps create content, tags other accounts and promotes your book at the same time is a good recipe!


1 –  Authors, David & Julie Bulitt LIVE making their favorite drinks in the kitchen! 

2- Author Katie Burke, jumped on a Zoom call with local bookshop The Booksmith and a few kids from her book “Urban Playground;  What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco.”  


Don’t be shy to reach out to  Instagram, Facebook or any book reviewers and offer a copy of your book in exchange for a post! Now, on Amazon you can send an ebook as a gift, super easy and practical for social distancing! 

All in all, social media is a great tool but you have to be patient with it. The more time you spend engaging, creating content and connecting with people you will start to see your numbers grow – Remember, consistency is key! It’s a clothesline, where you need to hang each item up one by one –  give it time. Unfortunately, social media is not an automatic dryer. *welp*

Book recommendations for every dad this Father’s Day

We’re the kind of people who buy books for every occasion, and Father’s Day is no exception. We’ve compiled a list of book recommendations based on the type of dad you have in case you aren’t sure where to start looking!

  1. For the dad who loves police procedurals: Missions by Marc McGuire, Long Bright River by Liz Moore
  2. For the dad who likes to be kept on his toes: Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, Know Where You Sleep by Alan Orloff
  3. For the dad who is fascinated by cults: Sins of the Mother by August Norman, The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
  4. For the dad who has a great relationship with his daughter: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland
  5. For the dad who likes to read with his kids: Games of Deception by Andrew Maraniss, Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  6. For the dad who enjoys being out in nature: The Gyroscope of Life by David Parrish, H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald
  7. For the dad who does NOT enjoy being out in nature: The Ultimate Guide for the Avid Indoorsman by John Driver, The Revolution Was Televised by Alan Sepinwall
  8. For the sports-obsessed dad: The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe by Granville Wyche Burgess, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  9. For dads who are history buffs: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, Soldiers of Freedom by Samuel Marquis
  10. For the dad who loves a good revenge plot: The Unrepentant, E.A. Aymar, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson