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Heartfelt Novel by James T. Hughes Draws Praise from Reviewers

A new novel released by Dog Ear Publishing has been gaining glowing reviews and earning awards.

Custer, SD, May 19, 2017 --( James T. Hughes has been named a Gold Winner recipient of the Nautilus Award for Young Adult Fiction for his first novel, “Jasper Spring.” The book also received a Spur Award for Best Western – First Novel and was recognized as a finalist in the Best Contemporary Western category. Last year it was named a Literary Award of Excellence winner by Dog Ear Publishing.

In addition, reviewers have been giving the novel high praise. "Hughes writes in a lush prose that captures both the majesty of the landscape and the hardiness of its people ... there is something magical about this valley ... the reader should not regret the time spent there," notes Kirkus Reviews.

"Jasper Spring is a story that honors traditional family values in a positive, feel-good way,” writes Foreword Clarion Review. “It is a reaffirmation that, although bad things happen, ultimately goodness shines through."

In nominating the novel for the Literary Award of Excellence, editor Reba Hilbert wrote, “Jasper Spring is a novel that wraps itself around you like a silky scarf ... the book will stay with you long after the last page."

Hughes said it’s an incredible pleasure and honor that his book has won awards and is getting good reviews. “My attachment to stories of realism started when I was very, very young. And to realize that my persistence actually ended up producing something that is being received so well really gives a warm glow to the effort,” he said.

Hughes came up with the idea for the book based on his love of films and books on realism – “stories with a strong sense of place, and characters that I fell in love with that I felt were classic,” he said. “Part of my objective (in writing) was to create something moving enough it could possibly change how young people approach life and who they become. … ‘Jasper Spring’ is an honest derivative of what I know and have partly lived, and I wanted to record and preserve it.”

“Jasper Spring” is the story about Alice and Tucker, who live on a ranch Tucker’s family has lived on for generations. Their hope of a family is fading fast until they encounter a neglected 11-year-old boy who is drawn to their border collie, Tommie. The three must determine if they can form a family and save the land that they love.

The novel took Hughes years to write, scribbling phrases and notes about character development, storytelling and setting in a collection of three or four dozen pocket-sized notebooks he carried in his shirt pocket. Eventually he settled down to write it for a few hours a day starting at 3:30 a.m. for nine months.

Hughes attributes part of the book’s appeal to its characters – the husband and wife and the boy and a dog “that kind of pulls the boy into this couple’s lives.” The very setting of the book acts as another strong character, thanks to its symbolism and multiple meanings. “It’s a subtle character, but it’s one of the most powerful ones, in my mind, because it has such power in the way the weather changes,” he said, adding that he hopes readers “feel the power of the landscape.”

That power has caught the attention of at least one reviewer. "The 'characters' that dominate this evocative story are the vastness of the countryside ... and the harshness of nature, both vividly rendered ... an encouraging story about human perseverance," BlueInk Reviews notes.

“It’s great to see all of the validation that’s coming his way from so many respected voices in the trade,” said Matt Murry, marketing director for Dog Ear. “We hope to get equally strong support from reader reviewers through Amazon and Goodreads.”

Hughes, who lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with his wife and son, spent almost 10 years trying to get a traditional publisher or agent to take even a fleeting look at “Jasper Spring.” Then he turned to a next generation publisher, Dog Ear, after hearing good things from other authors about the company.

“The completeness of what Dog Ear offered seemed to fit my situation the best,” he said, as well as having experts in marketing. “My strength is in actually producing a compelling story,” he said, “so I’m very reliant (on Matt), on his expertise in helping me choose what to do concerning marketing and expositing the book.”

The author already has a very rough draft of his next novel, which will be in the same vein as “Jasper Spring.” “I’m kind of into that kind of serious fiction realism that can be applied to real life,” he said, “even if it happened many, many years ago.”

For additional information, please visit

Jasper Spring
James T. Hughes
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4575-5001-0 408 pages $19.95 US

Available at Ingram,, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.

Dog Ear Publishing partners with authors to shape content that resonates with readers as diverse as the books we publish. Our mission is to leverage expertise, technology and relationships to form a meaningful and lasting bond between creators, content and culture as a whole. Dog Ear Publishing is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and can be contacted by phone at (317) 228-3656 or through our website,
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