Friday, December 24, 2010


The sequel to my novel IN THE NICK OF TIME is finished. Currently titled THE TIME OF HIS LIFE, I thought I would share the first chapter. Without revealing the ending to IN THE NICK OF TIME, this new novel involves Andy, Miranda and Roger again and of course the sage-like influence of Grandma Geri. More time travel and those impetuous incense sticks. For the fans: here is Chapter One of THE TIME OF HIS LIFE:


Jake Hollis has been dead for eighty-five years. He was fifteen years old when he died, and he was solemnly buried in the now deserted and forgotten Quaker cemetery in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. His funeral, on August 27, 1925, was a relieved cool morning after a five day heat wave. His father and mother, ashen faced, shocked, mute, stood at his grave. His mother held the hand of Jake’s eight-year-old sister while his brother, thirteen, stood alone willing himself to be strong. When Jake’s coffin was lowered into the soil, his brother broke down. A forgiving breeze stirred the trees but would not dry their tears. Jake’s only aunt would stay with the family another two months to help manage the household.

In a box full of photographs and crinkly memorabilia of a long defunct boys’ camp called Camp Forest Hills, there is a picture or two of Jake Hollis. This box is one of a collection of five boxes located in a modest mansion in Concord, New Hampshire. How the photographs ended up there, no one seems to know, but in Mrs. Abigail Bishop’s spacious and organized attic the photos of Jake have rested for thirty-seven years. When she died, her family donated the five boxes, as well as two trunks and a sled, to the New Hampshire Historical Society.

After looking through the contents, David Flanders, the curator at the Society, decided to mount an exhibit. The boxes contained a wealth of fascinating information on the history of the boys’ camps that flourished in the state from 1900 to the present. Not just Camp Forest Hills, but wild sounding camp names like Camp Pasquaney, Camp Asquam, and Camp Mowglis. The boxes were filled with old letters from camp children, menus, daily schedules of the camps, tax receipts and even old yearbooks. There were sixty-four sepia colored and black and white photographs: boys playing sports, boys swimming, hiking, sitting in their tents. Boys staring into the camera, engaged in rifle practice or working on projects in the woodshop, posed for eternity.

Mr. Flanders thought it was the perfect exhibit for the summer and even into the fall, as the Society was overrun with tourist visitors during that time of year. Jake, the boy who died, was in two of the sixty-four pictures. The first was a group photograph of the campers at Camp Forest Hills of 1925. Jake is in the second row, the last boy on the right: bent down on his right knee, arms crossed, as were all the others and he stares at the camera intently. While the boys are wedged together, shoulder to shoulder, he is slightly, just slightly, apart. His dark hair falls across his forehead. He’s not heavy or stocky; 1925 was a different time when there were no Doritos, no McDonalds, no quick and easy greasy chicken. The boys look healthy, well fed, but muscular. Jake weighs 135 pounds; he is 5 feet 8 inches tall. Had he lived he would have grown taller. He would have gained more weight. There is no smile on his face: but there are no smiles on anyone’s face. The boys were told to do that: showing the seriousness of these summer camps, these camps that taught young kids how to survive, how to be mature men for the future. But Jake didn’t survive. He died. During that summer, his first time at the camp, he died.

The second picture of Jake is the camp’s baseball team. He is standing, again a little away from the other campers, on the left. He’s gripping a baseball bat, but the bat is touching the ground, as if Jake is about to raise it for a swing. He’s leaning against a cabin and his left arm is looped over the railing. He grins. Perhaps he and the team are about to start a game. He’s wearing a baseball uniform. The other guys don’t have uniforms; they’re dressed in shorts and old shirts. Jake’s uniform was a gift from his dad, something for the camp adventure he was about to embark on.

For thirty-seven years, through summers and winters, these two simple, quiet pictures of Jake Hollis stayed in that box in Mrs. Bishop’s attic. Today, carefully, respectfully, Mr. Flanders removes all the photos, separates the materials and creates the Historical Society’s new exhibit. The two photos of Jake will go up on the wall. The exhibit is on the second floor of the New Hampshire Historical Society. The building, which opened in 1906, is found across the street from the State House in Concord. It will take a visit by a very special, sensitive boy named Andy Mackpeace to look at these photos, and Jake will finally, finally, after eighty-five years of being silent, speak to the living.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A wonderful Comment

A fan of IN THE NICK OF TIME from a town in Washington State emailed me this wonderful comment:

Jeff Graham's gift for creating vital, dynamic and sympathetic characters draws the reader in from the very first page. His stories weave, spin and turn in creative, unexpected ways that call one to contemplate new ways of looking at the world, all the while pointing to what is meaningful and important, authentic and real to our tender human condition. His writings are compelling to readers of young age, and to older readers who are young at heart.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pocomoke Middle School

Congratulations to Pocomoke Middle School in Maryland for being recognised for their "Soar to Success" reading intervention program! Kudos to the teachers and to Ms. Caroline Bloxom. I heard about this while I was away.

The power of reading can never be underestimated.

All you teachers: keep up the diligence!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Promoting the novel in Washington

Dear friends:

I'm off to the Pacific Northwest to promote IN THE NICK OF TIME. Looking forward to the adventure!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Astrology and IN THE NICK OF TIME

One fan, after reading the book, could not help but relate the characters to some astrological elements. She felt that Andy was the 'intuitive', the Water element, Roger, the 'brain', the Air element, and Miranda was the 'Action', the Fire Element.

An interesting parallel.

While Andy is not simply only intuitive, Roger only brains, and Miranda only action, it seems that all three of them are coming into alignment with their true gifts.

It was exciting to see how their gifts would come to the surface in the challenging times. At first, their gifts seemed to obstruct each other, when ultimately, their gifts would redeem each other.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Boston Massacre

When I lived in Boston, for the first few years, practically everyday, I would walk past the site of the Boston Massacre, or at the very least, the gravestone commemorating it in the Granary. As a child, that event had always fascinated me. The insanity that takes over from individual thinking to mob thinking which seemed to have happened on March 5, 1770.

I wanted to emphasize that type of insanity in my novel IN THE NICK OF TIME. The hatred that had been building up between the British and the Colonists: how both sides had been feeling frustrated and exploited.

I wanted to put Andy in the middle of that, and by the same token, have Andy struggle with deciphering where he was and what year it was.

Here is an excerpt from IN THE NICK OF TIME after Andy meets Samuel Maverick and they walk over to the Customs House where a mob is gathering.

Chapter 9

“I told you something was up!” Samuel said. “We're going to show these...!” A bell drowned out his last word. He grabbed Andy and moved up through the ranks of the crowd toward the front. “You lobster scum! Go home!”
“Stop grabbing me!” Andy said. Something was wrong here. He could feel it.
Grandma Geri always encouraged him when he had those feelings. ‘Trust your gut’ was her crude but accurate description. “Andy,” she’d say, “There are energy forces in this earth that we cannot see, but they are here. They help us, not hurt us. So when you feel your gut telling you that something is weird, or off, or something unexpected is about to happen, Listen to it! Remember Andy: ‘there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'”
She smiled. “That's Shakespeare, not me.”

A voice from the back yelled out. “That's the son of a dog that knocked me down!”
Andy turned and saw a blond haired boy with a huge torch standing on top of some stairs and pointing at a British soldier. He held a snowball, and hurled it at the soldiers. It hit the wall over their heads. The ball exploded and two sharp rocks fell out it and landed on the ground.
“Load your muskets, but do not fire,” Preston said. The other soldiers begrudgingly did what they were told. “I repeat, do not fire unless I say so.”
“I'd like to kill the whole lot of them,” one soldier said.
“Go ahead!” said one woman who overheard the exchange. “I dare you!”
Samuel joined in. “Yeah, go ahead, I dare you. Fire! I dare you! You lazy cowards!” He scooped up a clump of snow, made a ball and hit a soldier right in the face.
The crowd of men and boys and those few women grew bigger. Louder. They edged closer to the small group of soldiers. Andy felt the people pressing and knew this crowd could easily overtake the small band of militia.

“Go ahead, I dare you! Fire!”
“Fire, though you dare not!”
“You lobster scoundrels! You rascals!”
The colonists seethed. Their courage increased for they had had enough. Enough badgering and enough bullying. They too were cold and tired and hungry. But above all, they hated. They hated these British people who bossed them around. They hated these British rules and these British blockades. They couldn’t see anything else but that hatred. Some had clubs and pieces of wood. A group of boys threw more snowballs.
“Steady men, I say, keep an eye on them and don't fire!” warned Preston. “We'll see how far this will go. They may just get tired and go home. Don't talk back to them. Don't encourage them.”
Andy watched as more boys gathered and pitched the rock- laden snowballs.
I've seen this before. In history class. Snowballs.. snow and crowds and...
His stomach lurched. He knew what this was! It was 1770. This was the Boston Massacre.

Andy grabbed Samuel's arm and pulled him hard. “Get out of here. You have to get out of here. This is dangerous. They're going to start shooting!” he screamed.
“Don't be an ass! They're not going to do anything,” Samuel pushed back. “I dare you!” He joined the crowd in their taunts. “I dare you! Fire! Go ahead, Fire!” He threw a brick, and then more snowballs with rocks in them. “Fire!”

IN THE NICK OF TIME is now available in your local bookstore and library.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Fan from Jamaica

Recently, through the contacts of a relative, a girl in Jamaica let me know that she recently read IN THE NICK OF TIME. It had been given to her as a gift from her aunt. The girl loved the story and retold it to her aunt on a recent visit.

SO: THANK YOU J.! Thank you for reading my novel, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was a blast to write it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

In The Nick of Time: how it all began.

April 16, 2008:

Many years ago I had a dream. A literal one. I know, nothing more boring than hearing about someone's dream.

A group of friends and I were in a restaurant on a cold, dreary, snowbanked February night. From my winter pocket I pulled out a mysterious incense stick, lit it, and whoosh! the walls disappeared and we landed on a warm, tropical island.

Nothing much remains of the dream but the incense stick. And what a stick. It led to the creation of my time travel novel for young readers called IN THE NICK OF TIME.

I am proud of that.

IN THE NICK OF TIME can be found at and in their bookstore.

I have posted Chapter One to give you a taste of the book. Enjoy.

Jeff Graham
Chapter 1

“Help!” he screamed, his voice cracking. “Help!!”
The covers flew off his body. They hit the night table and toppled over the bedside lamp. With a force like a slingshot, Andy Mackpeace sat up, scrambled to the edge of the bed, and threw up his supper. Spaghetti and potato salad and garlic bread splattered on the floor in large, indigestible chunks.
“Andy, are you ok?”
His father opened the door and rushed to Andy’s bed. The room reeked of vomit, and Andy was drenched in sweat. He heaved again and leaned over the bed, waiting for anything else to come up. Andy found it hard to figure out where he was.
“I threw up,” he croaked.
“Hold on,” his dad said. “You’re ok, Andy. I’ll be right back.”
“It’s happening again,” Andy swore to himself. “It’s going to be with me for the rest of my freaking life!”
His father returned with a wet, warm washcloth, threw a towel on the floor to cover the vomit, and sat down on the bed. He wiped his son’s face and arms.
“You’re having one of those episodes again, right?”
Andy took the washcloth and wiped down his chest and stomach.
“Here,” Mr. Mackpeace said handing him another washcloth, “now put this one on your forehead.”
It was freezing cold, and Andy’s nerves relaxed with relief.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Andy revisited the thoughts he had when he went to bed; the checklist of things to do (the Science test for Monday) and things to look forward to (turning thirteen in two weeks), followed by the descent into a dream that was so deceptive: his walking through this quiet, beautiful country house full of innocent sunshine, and then those dark, evil things jumping out and chasing him. Andy running with legs of lead, and those things getting closer and closer.
Andy got nauseous again. He felt stupid for feeling so scared. Andy closed his eyes and leaned back onto his pillows. “No, Dad. I’m good. I just don’t want to think about it right now. It makes me sick when I do.”
“Andy, what are we going to do with you?”
This was the fifth nightmare in three months, and they had started in the spring. His father collected the washcloths and returned to the bathroom. Andy heard his mother talking from his parents’ bedroom. “He’s shaken up,” he heard his father answer. “Yeah, he threw up again, same as last time.” His mother said something muffled. “Nah, I got it, go on back to sleep, I’ll be there in a little while.” Mr. Mackpeace came back with more wet towels and cleaned up the vomit, wiped away the smells.
“What time is it?” Andy asked.
“It’s 2:30,” his dad said.
It was the same every time.
When it happened on a school night, it was even harder for Andy to get up in the morning, he was groggier than normal. Luckily for Andy, this was a Friday night.
His father checked in one last time. “What can I do to help; do you want me to stay? Hang out until you fall asleep?”
“I’m ok now, Dad. Thanks, I feel a lot better. I think I’ll wait and talk to Grandma Geri in the morning.”
Grandma Geri. Mr. Mackpeace winced.
“Ok,” he said and leaned over and gave Andy a hug. A quiet, “good night”, and Mr. Mackpeace glided out the door, shutting it behind him.
As Andy drifted back to sleep, he heard his father say in the other bedroom, “My mother is probably the last person he should talk to.