James Patterson Teams Up With Bill Clinton for New Political Thriller

Noam Galai, Stringer // Getty Images
Noam Galai, Stringer // Getty Images

Superstar author James Patterson is bringing an extra layer of realism to his upcoming political thriller. The President Is Missing, set for a June 2018 release, will draw from the personal accounts of former president Bill Clinton’s time in the White House, The New York Times reports.

The collaboration was announced by the book’s co-publishers Knopf and Little Brown on May 5. “Working with President Clinton has been the highlight of my career, and having access to his first-hand experience has uniquely informed the writing of this novel,” Patterson said in a statement. “I’m a story-teller, and President Clinton’s insight has allowed us to tell a really interesting one. It’s a rare combination—readers will be drawn to the suspense, of course, but they’ll also be given an inside look into what it’s really like to be president.”

Clinton and Patterson connected through Robert B. Barnett, the Washington D.C.-based attorney who represents both of them. It was Barnett who first came to Clinton with the idea that the two should work together on a novel. The former president, a long-time reader of Patterson’s work, naturally agreed. “Working on a book about a sitting President—drawing on what I know about the job, life in the White House, and the way Washington works—has been a lot of fun,” Clinton said in a statement. “And working with Jim has been terrific. I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time.”

While Bill Clinton has authored a few books on his own, this marks the ex-commander-in-chief’s first foray into fiction. He couldn’t have picked a better partner to explore the new territory with—throughout his career, James Patterson has sold 350 million copies of his 100-plus titles.

[h/t The New York Times]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Absentee Ballot vs. Mail-In Ballot: What’s the Difference?

Liliboas/iStock via Getty Images
Liliboas/iStock via Getty Images

Since you mail in an absentee ballot, it seems like mail-in ballot is just a convenient alternative for people who always forget the word absentee. And though the terms are often used interchangeably, there is technically a difference.

Up until the Civil War, American voters were generally required to vote at their local polling stations in person. But when states realized this would prevent hundreds of thousands of soldiers from voting in the 1864 presidential election, they started passing laws to let them send in their ballots instead. As The Washington Post explains, state legislatures have since broadened these laws to include other citizens who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day: people who are traveling, people who have disabilities, people attending college away from home, etc. Because these voters are all physically absent from the polls for one reason or another, their ballots are known as absentee ballots.

Some states require you to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for an absentee ballot, while others don’t ask you to give a reason at all (which is known as “no-excuse absentee voting”). Since this year’s general election is happening during a pandemic, many states have temporarily adopted a no-excuse policy to encourage everyone to vote from home. But even if you don’t need to provide an excuse, you do usually need to request an absentee ballot.

According to Dictionary.com, mail-in ballot is a more general term that can refer to any ballot you send in. It’s often used when talking about all-mail voting, when states send a ballot to every registered voter—no request necessary. Oregon and a few other states actually conduct all elections like this, and several other states have decided to do it for the upcoming presidential election. But even though you don’t have to send in an application requesting a mail-in ballot in these situations, you do still have to be registered to vote.

Because voting processes are mostly left up to the states, there’s quite a bit of variation when it comes to what officials call ballots that you don’t cast in person. You could see the term mail-in ballot—or vote-by-mail ballot, or advanced ballot, or something similar—on an application for an absentee ballot, and you could hear absentee ballot used in a conversation about all-mail voting.

No matter what you call it, you should definitely mail one in for this election—here’s how to do that in your state.