Books are a forest and it’s hard to see the trees, except the tall ones or the old ones. But when you enter the forest, it’s the new growth that emits the sunlight....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Middle grade novel Josiah's Apple Orchard published

Josiah’s Apple Orchard is now published by Couchgrass Books in Kindle format and in paperback at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  In a few weeks, it can be purchased from Ingram's and other book outlets.

Here is the back cover copy:

Besides music, Vivvy loves green apples. She and her brother Matt go on morning apple raids until, one fall, their father drives them to a pick-your-own orchard. The cross old Josiah inhabits another time where pixies might appear like uprooted saplings.

In the early, eventful 1960s, Vivvy takes the flute from Mr. Fortray, a band teacher who plays jazz. Detours confuse another apple picking trip and Josiah is angry about progress. Yet if Vivvy wants to do what she loves, she must think beyond a fear that her father and Josiah share.

This was a book I revised to make it less of a sentimental journey, and to bring out the story.  I felt that the 1960's apple orchard was relevant today because of the organic farming movement.  In the fictional time frame, many farms in the Midwest were still organic.  The old man in the story, though, finally subsisted on his apple orchard, which was unusual in a region where wheat and dairy were predominant.  He became a character as I wrote because I did not remember him that well, except for his curmudgeon temperament and a scene with grass snakes.  What I recalled were our trips to that area of southwest Wisconsin, and how we anticipated picking the best apples we had ever had.

Illustration in book of Matt

Vivvy loves music in the story.  She has her instrument paths while the role music took in the early 19 60s became as ponderous as anything else in America.  It just plain filled the air in the lives of young people as if it were the weather forecast and something to await.

The original manuscript made rounds and it sat for two years at one major publisher’s, at the Director of Children’s Books house, I found finally, because he was in physical recuperation.  It much needed the revising that I put into it later.  Other projects had preoccupied me, but this was a story I simply liked to write and rewrite.

There is a forbidden prize tree in the story orchard and there is talk of pixies and talk of progress.  A freeway is being built.  These ideas formed our childhoods and they are perplexing when they juxtapose.  That was how the 1960s were for me.  Those early years with inventions and speculations and questioning had the makings of the surreal years that were to follow.  In the book, Vivvy tries to comprehend these forces as she realizes old and new music forms and what a girl might do.

Josiah’s Apple Orchard is written for eight to twelve-year-olds.  There is some interior art.  The chapters are fairly short so that it could be termed a chapter book besides a middle grade novel.

Gravel road to meadow

I had mentioned in a previous blog post that authors probably had their Requiem Mass as Mozart did.  This was mine.  I realized that was because my father wanted his ashes scattered in that region of Wisconsin after he died.  He went trout fishing there, and for a prize rainbow trout.  His settler ancestor brought up his grandfather there.  We lived in a flat prairie region while southwest Wisconsin was incredibly scenic in autumn.  Josiah’s Apple Orchard is not likely to be the last book that I will publish, however.