Monday, December 7, 2015

The Boys of Summers Run, a "Feel Good" novel swimming upstream

Front Cover of Farmstead

The Boys of Summers Run is written for seniors . . . parents . . .  grandparents . . . middle-grade teens . . . and boys, likely the reluctant readers in most households.

The back cover reads:

Fatherless boys become the Four Horsemen of the Outfield

Autumn, and high above the fields and forests of his family's historic farm, Claude Kinkade surveys his life there thus far. His future in rural Pennsylvania remains cloudy. His mother's marriage may move him to the deserts of Las Vegas and far away from his beloved Little League Baseball team, the Panthers.

Worse, Claude's loyalty is spreading its cloak over Shadeland, his father's ancestral acreage. He senses his departed father's shadow following him as he becomes the "farm-boy-in-training" of Summers Run. Must he forsake the memories he yearns to make among the Clan Kinkade? Will Shadeland suffer in his absence?

"Runs" are the brooks and streams linking the countryside together in Claude's new world. Summers Run is one of these, and The Boys of Summers Run is a story of deep roots and timeless springs, nurtured by traditions of family and folkways. It describes the friendships only boys can forge while learning of life and loss, the triumphs and tragedies of it all. One unsolicited reviewer writes:

"I think this is the best book I've read in a long time. I enjoyed it because it taught so many lessons. . . . I would recommend this book for all ages."

Be aware Boys is not a sports story. Nor the typical coming-of-age account. It is a story of a family preserving the land and the values it is duty-bound to protect and honor.  

To order from Barnes & Noble: The Boys of Summers Run

From Amazon: The Boys of Summers Run

From IndieBound: The Boys of Summers Run

(IndieBound is a huge community of independent bookstores found in your hometown and on the street corners across the nation. IndieBound members offer all manner of book services, shipping, and ordering of ebooks for your tablets and readers or softbound versions for your nightstand. Patronize them whenever possible.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Award to The Boys of Summers Run !

Many thanks to indieBRAG for judging The Boys of Summers Run worthy of its Medallion program.

Submissions are juried and then judged by a panel. As a rule, fifty percent of those works are then passed on to a reader group, hence the title, Book Reader Appreciation Group or B.R.A.G. 

Forty percent of those submitted are winnowed down to ten percent as deserving of a Medallion.

We are pleased and humbled to be included in this exclusive group whose works are recognized for their excellence. Here's a link. . . .

When there, click on the "home" link to find our novel among those recent inductees. Works are judged on plot, writing style, characters, copy editing, dialogue, and cover/interior layout.

One final criterion readers apply?  "Would I recommend this book to friends or family?"

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to order The Boys of Summers Run

So-o-o easy!  Just scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the big cover like this smaller version.

There, you'll be taken to Amazon's website where you can order a softcover or e-book version of this "book for all ages," my hymn to boyhood. The "folklore of friendship", page 334, soft cover, is the premise of this, today's "Feel Good" novel. It's "country."

Or, better yet, patronize your local bookstore on the corner. It should be able to order The Boys of Summers Run through its network of distributors including the IndieBound system. Also, through Indie, the Kobo platform provides a variety of e-book formats for those of you with tablets and the like. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

From the Online Book Club: A review

"One gripe I had with this book is the meandering plot. I am normally a fast reader, but this book took me an unusually long time to finish. Some readers may not mind this, as some of the side stories and passages are absolute gems. 

"This isn’t a book you should race through, as you might with a thriller; you should savor every sentence. The writing is lovely and lyrical. I enjoyed reading the book as much for the author’s use of language as for the storyline itself. The story is quite engaging and Claude is a likeable main character. All of the characters are vividly written, particularly Claude’s friend Tim, who is deaf and an orphan.

"The dialogue is easy to understand, even with the heavy use of rural Pennsylvania dialect. I usually find the use of a dialect distracting, although it was natural and flowing in this case. I felt like I knew these people well and became used to their manner of speaking.

"I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I wish I could have given the book 3.5 stars. The story will tug at your heartstrings. This book would appeal to anyone who likes to read wholesome stories about country life and boys growing up. Actually, I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates good writing."

Thanks, Carolyn, for this insightful and accurate review. Sample chapters of The Boys of Summers Run can be viewed at Amazon. com

Order through your local bookstore. Or, if you are comfortable shopping online, there's Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


My reaction to this review? A decently accurate and honest review. Claude’s detours and sidetracks, however, were designed to provide him with tools, insights, (and later) a mature perspective from which to tell his story and those of his boyhood friends.

While Claude is the narrator and first person protagonist, the work does portray the dysfunctional homes other boys endure plus the yearning of one orphan for the grounding Claude enjoys at Shadeland. Hence, the title, The Boys of Summers Run.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Interview Highlights: The Boys of Summers Run

Have to say, the Montana portion of The Boys of Summers Run is not very flattering.

Yes, some might take offense. But Montana life is more than majestic log resorts or pristine trout streams. What's depicted is ranching without the romance. There are harsh realities within cowboy culture.

Just drive US Highways 2 or 200 and one can appreciate the state does desolation or isolation rather well. One also has to admire the tenacity of those living there within a stark and grudging beauty. It portrays how folks manage to prevail on what nature provides. Eastern Montana contains redeeming qualities I find attractive and challenging for a photographer such as myself. And, viewed through a wide angle lens, it can define The Big Sky. However, there’s little of the pastoral or idyllic such as Claude Kinkade, my narrator, has known in Pennsylvania.

Nonetheless, the family he meets there in the badlands serves him well. The dysfunctional Smythes allow the hardscrabble surroundings to shape their brittle and brutish behavior. And, Claude samples how things can go awry within clannish dynamics. Claude and and his friend Trent Smythe are born on the same day: Claude clings to his roots while Trent Smythe loathes his and lives for the day when he can watch the ranch disappear in his rearview mirror.

Would you say The Boys of Summers Run is a coming-of-age, young adult work?

Perhaps, but publishers try to pigeonhole fiction because it’s convenient. I consider it more an intergenerational novel as there are strong relationships linking my narrator and elders of his community. Farm boys and Little League Baseball create the backdrop, but it’s not a play-by-play sports story, either. More an account of the lessons from life and loss played out in rural Pennsylvania. Amazon lists it as "Men and Boys".

You’ve said the book could be read in Sunday School. How so?

Well, my main character develops a crush on a Mennonite girl from a neighboring farm. Then, in Las Vegas, he teams up with the Haupleton twins, from an LDS family . . . for a school project on urban gardening. And, the funeral takes place at St. Matthew’s in the Meadow, an Episcopal setting. So, it became rather ecumenical. In contrast to some works in the genre, the language is very tame and the narrative portrays likeable people doing pleasant things.

Unlike some of the grim plots found in young adult novels, your character Claude takes up life on what looks like a prosperous, historic farm. 

Yes, Claude and his recently widowed mother land there, trying to sort out what’s next for them. But Shadeland is facing the realities of taxes, markets, the constant upkeep and challenging stewardship of keeping the place intact, in the family, and providing a livelihood for the next generation or two. It’s roots for Claude, something he yearns for. So his loyalty quickly spreads its cloak over Shadeland and the family of his departed father. He becomes a farm-boy-in-training.

That’s why the move to Las Vegas is such a wrench. Shadeland is grounding, its bedrock extending deep into the values of another era. Las Vegas pits Claude against his mother’s new chapter and her in-laws who are deeply invested in casinos, hotels, and a high-octane lifestyle.  

So, does he return to Summers Run and Shadeland? Ever?

Aside from the Haupleton twins, things do not go so well for Claude in Nevada, particularly on the baseball diamond where he’s a pitcher for a local team. But a mentor in Pennsylvania once told him: “It’s not always your friends, Claude, who become your best teachers.” So, he applies such to his new life. 

I’ll risk a spoiler here. Yes, Claude does return to Summers Run and Shadeland and his old teammates, the Panthers. In one passage, he tells us: “It’s summer, and I feel my stride matching that of my tallest shadow.” Some of us recall being twelve or thirteen, standing on the cusp, looking across the chasm between boyhood and manhood.  Claude and his friends grow . . . sometimes within an afternoon. His Uncle Albert remembers: “the pure joy of being a boy. It doesn’t last long.”

And the book seems to portray that through Claude and the others. Would you call it a bittersweet account? 

There’s that element, yes, but Claude joins the other fatherless boys of Summers Run––Tim, Aaron, Kevin, and Jeff––banding together and negotiating the terrain their fates have defined as best they can. Outcomes are hopeful. Baseball becomes but one unifier.

The Turnip, a huge hot air balloon, is referred to occasionally throughout the work. And then there’s the rooster. Did you plant these to tie the work together?

Well, the balloon is from an event staged by my hometown, Meadville, PA, every June, where a couple dozen hot-air balloons are launched and put on a show. The rooster comes from Kinkade family lore. Claude’s father, at the age of four, went a-climbing up to touch the “wooster” on the weather vane high atop Shadeland’s giant barn. The rooster comes center stage drawing Claude’s narration together. Like a good motif should.

Do readers ever ask how Claude could be so perceptive as a young teen, telling his story?

We tried to point out early on, that the narrative is two-pronged. Claude relates the action at the time it took place, and then he often applies his perspective from twenty years later. This dual approach is tricky for an author to navigate but ultimately gives the reader the three-dimensional picture and a richer progression. 

You call your book a “feel good” novel. Aren’t you afraid prospective readers might think it too syrupy?

The works of Rosamunde Pilcher and Jan Karon often deal with tragedy and grim realities. Yet they remain “pleasant reads” or “heart-warmers.” It takes a deft hand to deal with the grit of life and yet not wallow in it. I think those of us who write in this vein, expect any art to uplift. If it doesn’t, what’s the point? 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Any respectable work of fiction should have a Table of Contents

Presently, The Boys of Summers Run––latest in the Series––can be ordered through Amazon. com as a softcover book or formatted for various e-readers and the Kindle platforms. Here's one link:

Others of the series can be found there as well or ordered from Barnes & Noble. 

Also, your local bookstore should also be able to order Summers Run: An American Boyhood or Return to Summers Run, the first and second book of the series, and The Boys of Summers Run, the third.

Do try to patronize your local bookstores on the corner or Main Street. Like our libraries, they are seasoned, concerned, and thorough offering community interaction between authors, readers, and book lovers of all stripes. 

Your local store should be able to order The Boys of Summers Run through its network of distributors including the IndieBound system. Also, the Kobo platform provides a variety of e-book formats for those of you with tablets and the like. 

Kobo is affiliated with the local bookstore network, IndieBound, and is geared to those who read e-books on various devices. You'll likely find your device listed. 

You can go to Amazon Books to read the opening chapters and the dedication to the Oregon Little League team which inspired it all. Set in rural P. A., this work is what Barnes & Noble used to list as a “Heartwarmer.”

Each work in the series includes a Table of Contents, listing the chapter titles––helpful to those searching for clues as to "what's this book about, anyway?"

A book without a Table of Contents, listing chapter titles, is severely compromised in my view. Like the cover, the TOC can tell you a lot about the book. And yes, I believe you can "tell a book by its cover" especially today when so many covers are grim and graphic. Would you want some of these in your home . . . where your grandkids might pick up such and read the trashy content?

Written from the country and back roads of rural America, The Boys of Summers Run honors old-fashioned values and manners yet presents timeless and pertinent insights for today’s families, especially those concerned with raising well-grounded boys into leaders and true gentlemen. 

(Yes, there are some chapters set in Montana, depicting how not to do such.)

Boys draws from the first two of the series, condenses, adds new material, and is pitched toward teens––ESPECIALLY BOYS WHO ARE RELUCTANT READERS. An intergenerational novel for all ages.