Pre-Order A Mariner’s Tale Today!

Thanks for your votes – WE HAVE A WINNER! The new cover forthe stunning debut, A Mariner’s Tale, has been selected.

PRE-ORDER BELOW, and feel free to hang around for a spell for the most recent entry into Joe’s Captain’s Log!


Early Praise From Bestselling Authors!

A Mariner’s Tale is a stunning debut: a seafaring novel rich with lush imagery and colorful characters from an exciting new voice in Southern fiction. With deft narrative skill, the author takes the protagonist, a cynical middle-aged mariner, and his protege, a troubled young man, on a voyage of self-discovery that begins on an island in Florida and ends in an Irish fishing village. You don’t want to miss this beautifully crafted page-turner!”

Cassandra King, bestselling author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy

“Hard-edged and gripping.  An intriguing mix of hope and fear.  Fans of Pat Conroy’s evocative novels are going to love this stirring debut.”

– Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Protocol

“A Mariner’s Tale is a richly rendered story scented with sea spray and filled with salty characters seeking grace, mercy and second chances. Palmer writes with heart and authenticity, bringing to life an unfortgettable crew worthy of the love and redemption we each hope to find in this life.” –

Nicole Seitz, author of The Cage-Maker

“A beautifully drawn sea-faring tale built around a marina full of lovingly flawed characters who have, in different ways, been floundered by life; who in rescuing each other, manage to rescue themselves. Set in the lush beauty of the inlets, streams and maritime world of North Florida, A Mariner’s Tale is told with great heart and uncommon compassion by an author who knows the life of tide and salt and of the sea.” 

Janis Owen, author of American Ghost

Part nautical yarn, part romance, and part coming-of-age story, A Mariner’s Tale is a page-turner, but Joe Palmer’s beautiful prose slows the pace to a perfect rhythm, allowing the reader to participate in the wonders of nature and the resilience of the human heart on a barrier island just off the northeast coast of Florida.

—Susan Cushman, author of Friends of the Library and Cherry Bomb, and editor of Southern Writers on Writing

“Beautifully written and riveting. As a horrendous storm threatens, an aging mariner and a troubled young man find new trust, and each their own path to renewed hope. The author’s voice is reminiscent of many great Southern fiction writers and leaves one eagerly waiting for more.”

Monica Tidwell, Tristan Productions, NY theatre producer and award-winning filmmaker

A Mariner’s Tale Releases October 25, 2020: PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!


Meet Jack Merkel…

The county sheriff rolls into Jack Merkel’s marina at sunset one evening with a young hoodlum in the backseat who’s about to permanently alter the distressed fabric of Merkel’s existence. Desperate, broken and on the run, 18-year-old Doug Eleazer’s crime is against the lonely and taciturn, 64-year-old Merkel, when he breaks into Merkel’s boatyard and vandalizes a sailboat the old man’s building – an object tied to Merkel’s heartrending past.

Though angry and disconsolate over the damage to his boat, Merkel feels pity for the boy after he’s arrested and leverages his friendship with the judge and the sheriff, cajoling them into releasing Doug into his custody to make him work off his punishment.

Like his benefactor, the boy’s own life has been shaped by personal tragedy, the murder-suicide of his parents when he was fourteen. The event estranges him from his sister, Elizabeth, then seventeen, for whom he’s been searching ever since.

Merkel’s boatyard is haven to a cast of quirky and ill-fated characters, including Margie Waller, a striking, middle-aged and wealthy divorcee with two teenage sons, who brings her disabled yacht in for repairs while on her way north from the islands. Saddled with her own baggage, the independent and assertive Margie becomes attracted to the brooding and reticent Merkel.

But while everyone is still trying to sort through their own calamities, a powerful and erratic hurricane churns its way north and takes aim at Morgan’s Island…