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Friday, 26 August 2016

☀ Benjamin's Field Trilogy [1-3] - J.J. Knights

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Benjamin's Field, a Young Adult Historical Fiction trilogy by retired FBI Special Agent

Don't miss our interview with author J. J. Knights.

PREVIEW: Check out the books' synopsis and excerpts below.

Benjamin's Field Trilogy is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).


The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Tour Stops

The Series: Benjamin's Field

The Benjamin's Field Trilogy follows a family over the course of sixty years through war, peace, triumph, tragedy, heartbreak, and final happiness as they learn that the people and institutions meant to sustain society often fail - with tragic results.

Benjamin'sField is a captivating tale about the journey of life, during which we each experience success and failure, joy and pain, and (if we are lucky) forgiveness and healing.

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Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.

Rescue [1]

Forward written by retired astronaut Jay Apt, PhD, veteran of four space shuttle missions.

'Benjamin's Field: Rescue' has been awarded a five-star review by the literary site 'Reader's Favorite' (readersfavorite.com).


The year is 1918 and the world is mired in the 'Great War.' Benjamin Kyner, a poor farmer from rural Pennsylvania who is reeling from a father's worst nightmare, discovers his son's fiancé, Eleanor, has given birth to their disabled child and has been disowned by her parents.

Amid the turmoil of war and a world ravaged by the worst epidemic since the Black Plague, Benjamin finds himself crippled by his own self-doubt as he struggles with the overwhelming implications of accepting Eleanor and his disabled grandchild. If he fails, he will lose his last remaining chance at happiness.

Fighting for Eleanor are Father James Templeman, who, torn between his humanity and his Church, is struggling with a tragic secret, and Randy Bridgewater, a playboy-turned-fighter pilot, who is sinking into the depths of alcoholism as he fights his own demons of guilt. In the background is Hiram Bolt, Benjamin's gentle farmhand, descended from slaves, who strives to hold them all together in a world that has seen far too much pain and suffering.

Benjamin's Field: Rescue is listed on the "Best Sellers Chart" of the peer review site YouWriteOn.com

[Published 1 April 2015, 308 pages]

Excerpt

Prologue


      This is not a story about a place, though characters must have a place in which to act out their story. The particular place central to this story became what it was not by design, unless by the hand of destiny, but by chance.
      It was not an airfield, or at least one would not have called it that. The place was undistinguished from both the air and ground and, even if a pilot were looking for it, the place was easy - very easy - to fly past without noticing it. No surprise, then, that while it had been there for years, most of the local inhabitants didn't know the place as an airfield. When asked by the rare traveler for directions, the reply was normally, "You must be mistaken. There is no airfield here.”
      The place could barely be called a landing strip. In point of fact, it was actually a long stretch of rough turf that separated a farmhouse, barn and arable fields on one side from a good-sized pond on the other.
      To the west, the grass strip led almost directly toward the setting sun, which often made late afternoon landings literally blinding affairs. In the opposite direction lay the Alleghenies, once called by the old flyers “Hell's stretch” because there was no safe place to put a machine if the engine became troublesome or simply quit, which happened more often than not. In that direction also lay the local cemetery, where, if the pilot failed to handle his machine with care, he would end up one way or another. In the early years, the sight of this sobering landmark always had the effect of making pilots more attentive to the conduct of their precarious machines.
      The place was very particular about what type of visitors it would accept. It tended, if grudgingly, to accommodate small, uncomplicated machines with wheels under their tails - constructions that could absorb the bumps, knocks and skids imposed upon them as the price of admission. This was because the place constantly complained about its predicament, as though protesting having been put there against its will by an unseen hand bent on making the patch of grass acquiesce to some malevolent and mercurial will.
      The runway sloped down to the east, which meant it had to slope up to the west, and at its eastern end canted, almost imperceptibly to the eye, downward to the north. Its surface wasn't flat and smooth, as one would expect, given its use. Instead, it undulated precariously as it descended eastward and rose westward. Pennsylvania shale filled the length of it, resulting in a million small yet punishing imperfections; it was like an alligator's hide. So, when a machine tried to alight there, it would touch down roughly, careening up and down; if the pilot failed to pay attention, it would slowly slide sideways toward the downhill side. When a strong wind blew across the place, it was like landing on a living, writhing thing angry at the intrusion.
      In spite of these conditions, the place did, indeed, speak to those who listened. This place could cast spells. For one standing on the green runway surrounded by hills and trees with a slight wind whispering in the branches, the world outside ceased to exist. If serenity could be said to have weight, it weighed heavily here; a gentle, soothing serenity enveloping the soul like a down comforter on a cold night. So much so, it was a wonder the flying machines could lift themselves into the air. Here, time stopped and magic began; for while the asphalt roads and highways would lead land-bound machines across the surface of the earth like ants negotiating a maze, this few thousand feet of grass was a gateway - for those with the skill and the patience and the time - to anywhere and everywhere. In many ways, it was like the fabled genie’s lamp: the right person, at the right time, would get his wish. The place exists today much as it existed then.
      That place is Benjamin’s field.

Ascent [2]

Benjamin's Field: Ascent has been awarded a five-star review by the literary site 'Readers Favorite' (readersfavorite.com)

The Benjamin's Field trilogy follows a family over the course of sixty years through war, peace, triumph, tragedy, heartbreak, and final happiness as they learn that the people and institutions meant to sustain society often fail - with tragic results.

In Book Two, Ascent, Jeremy Kyner, now a teenager, becomes the focus of his teacher's animosity because of his infirmity.

Jeremy's grandfather, Benjamin Kyner, his hired hand, a Catholic priest, a Jewish blacksmith, a courageous girl, a societal misfit, and an unwitting class bully form an unlikely, and at times volatile, partnership to rescue him from the smothering grip of prejudice. With their help, Jeremy literally takes to the sky, defeating his teacher's plans to institutionalize him and forcing her to reveal her own, dark, secret.

Finally, Randy Bridgewater, the long-absent best friend of Jeremy's dead war-hero father, emerges from the past with a surprise twist that propels the reader toward the dramatic conclusion of the Benjamin's Field Trilogy.

[Published 1 April 2015, 457 pages]

Excerpt

Chapter 1
September 1931


      “Jeremy Kyner? Jeremy Benjamin Kyner?” Miss Regina Vilis surveyed the young faces looking up at her. A boy of about 13 raised his hand.
      “Mr. Kyner?”
      “Yes, Miss Vilis.”
      “Mr. Kyner, did I not state that each student was to rise when I called his or her name?”
      “Yes, Miss Vilis.”
      A wave of snickering rippled across the classroom.
      “Silence!”
      The snickering evaporated.
      Focusing again on the hapless boy, she continued, “Mr. Kyner, my instructions were that you are to rise when I call your name. I did not instruct you to simply raise your hand. Is that correct?”
      “Yes, Miss Vilis.”
      “Why are you not standing?”
      “Miss Vilis, Mr. Amicus never made me stand when he took attendance. I guess I’m not used to it.”
      “Well, get used to it, Mr. Kyner. Look around. Do you see Mr. Amicus in the classroom?”
      “No, Miss Vilis.”
      “That is because Mr. Amicus has moved on to Athena High School. I am now the teacher here and unlike Mr. Amicus, I insist on discipline in my classroom. Understood?”
      “Yes, Miss Vilis.”
      “Then do as you were instructed, Mr. Kyner. What are you waiting for?” Jeremy’s hand dropped beside his seat and reappeared holding a crutch. Using it, he struggled to push himself out of his seat until he finally stood erect.
      “Hmm. I see. You may sit, Mr. Kyner, but if you are to be a student in this school, you will follow directions. Is that clear?”
      “Yes, Miss Vilis.”
      “Unless, of course, you feel you are entitled to special treatment?”
      The room was now completely silent.
      “No, Miss Vilis.”
      “Good. Kindly remember that.”
      Then, looking with a stern countenance at the children of the first through the eighth grades in this one-room school, Miss Vilis said, “Class, this is only the first day of the school year. If you are to progress satisfactorily and move on to your next grades, we must all cooperate. We must not allow recalcitrant or willful individuals to cause us to deviate from our course. Each of you must all pull your own weight.”
      As she said the word “recalcitrant,” her gaze fell upon Jeremy Kyner and remained there until she finished with her admonishment. Jeremy felt her glare pushing him deeper into his chair.
      “Now, is that clearly understood by everyone?”
      In unison, each voice in the room replied, “Yes, Miss Vilis.”
      “Good. Now let’s continue.” She turned away. Jeremy winced as the boy sitting behind him punched him between the shoulder blades.
      “Hey, kid, nice goin.’ Now you got her mad.”
      Turning to snatch a glance of his tormentor, Jeremy saw a chubby boy who looked older than an eighth-grader. He had unkempt red hair and freckles. Jeremy had never seen him before in his seven years of attending Fairey Hill School.
      Out of the corner of her eye, Miss Vilis observed what was happening. She continued the roll call.
      After calling several names, which resulted in student after student of various ages springing to his or her feet, repeating, “Here, Miss Vilas,” then instantly retracting themselves back into worn wooden seats, Miss Vilas called out “Bud Malus?”
      Jeremy started as he both felt and heard the fat boy behind him struggle to free himself from the too-small gap between his chair and desk, both of which were bolted to the wooden floor. He eventually made it to his feet and shouted, “Here, Miss Vilas.”
      “Another pupil having trouble standing?”
      “No, Miss Vilis.”
      “Very well, then.”
      Miss Vilis again pretended not to notice as Malus delivered a second jab between Jeremy’s shoulder blades. Rather than intervening, she turned from the class to suppress a smirk.
      One row to the right and several desks behind Jeremy and Malus, sat a girl whose wavy, rust-colored hair just touched her shoulders. She was about Jeremy’s age. Through slightly narrowed lids, her eyes darted from Miss Vilis to Malus’ furtive attack on Jeremy and back to Miss Vilis.
      The roll call continued.

      [...]

Emancipation [3]

Emancipation, opens as America is on the cusp of World War II. Jeremy Kyner, now a man, is barred from military service at a time when America is almost defenseless against marauding German submarines. Finally joining the newly formed Civil Air Patrol that represents the country's best hope to counter the Germans, Jeremy confronts a deadly enemy from an unexpected quarter and - with help from an astonishing source - is offered a chance of achieving final emancipation.

Historically accurate and filled with adventure, Benjamin's Field: Emancipation,is a thrilling finale to the Benjamin's Field Trilogy.

[Published 1 April 2015, 322 pages]

Excerpt

Chapter 1
Friday, December 5, 1941


      Twenty-three-year-old Jeremy Benjamin Kyner peered over the top of his drafting table at the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, a few miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Looking over the heads of his fellow mechanical engineers, all of whom were bent over drafting boards, he could see that the hands of the large pendulum clock on the far wall pointed to 2: 55 PM.
      Over two hours until quitting time, he thought. Damn! Well, at least it’s Friday.
      The locals referred to the company as “WABCO” or simply “The Brake.” The drafting room was located in a structure known as the “Castle” owing to the fortress-like appearance of the 55,000 square foot mixed Renaissance Revival and Romanesque stone building. Some also called it the “Clock Tower” on account of the tall tower that dominated one corner of the edifice. The tower itself was graced with a four-faced turret clock that both employees and townspeople depended on chiming on the hour and half-hour. The clock tower hadn’t always been there. The building burned in 1896 and the clock tower had been added during its reconstruction. Jeremy knew that because he’d actually repaired the clock the previous month, saving the company the expense of bringing in an expert.
      Jeremy returned to the task of drawing a modification for the “quick action triple valve” braking system produced by the company and used by every railroad in the United States and Canada to ensure their trains stopped reliably. Well, he was drawing part of the modification. As a junior engineer with the firm, he was basically an apprentice. He wasn’t yet applying his engineering skills as a designer. He was merely one of several young engineers who were learning the business by drafting blueprints for a modification to the system, and it wasn’t even the whole system. Each novice engineer was assigned to work on one part of the whole. Greater responsibility would come with greater experience. He’d been told during one of his employment interviews that even though he possessed a mechanical engineering degree he wasn’t applying for a position as a mechanical engineer; he was applying for a position to learn how to become a mechanical engineer. He’d lost track of how many such drawings had left his drafting board during the 18 months he’d worked at the Castle.
      Without warning, he felt a stroke across the top of his back. He jumped and smudged his drawing.
      “Hi, Jeremy,” someone said in a very feminine singsong voice. It was Mary Ellen Beltzhoover, his supervisor’s secretary.
      “Cripes, Mary Ellen,” said Jeremy. “Look what you made me do!”
      “Oh, I’m soooo sorry!” she said. “Here, let me help.” She picked up an eraser and leaned against Jeremy brushing her breasts against his muscular back and shoulders. As she began to erase the smudge, Jeremy felt a certain amount of jiggling.
      Jeremy lurched out of his chair. “Never mind,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”
      “Oh, toooo bad,” said Mary Ellen. “Well, anyway, Mr. Pater wants to see you in his office.
      “Oh, jeez,” said Jeremy. “Is he mad?”
      “I don’t think so,” said Mary Ellen as she shook her head like a schoolgirl, which she had been only a year before. Her long blond locks swept the front of her too-tight sweater. “Should he be? Have you been bad?” She pursed her lips.
      “Mary Ellen,” Jeremy whispered. “I’m married.”
      “Uh huh, I know,” she whispered in return.
      “Well, stop!”
      A startled young engineer sitting in front of Jeremy turned to look at them.
      Mary Ellen looked at the man and smiled. He turned back to his work as though nothing had happened.
      She looked at Jeremy and whispered, “No. I won’t stop. What’s the matter? Can’t stand a little teasing?”
      Jeremy ignored her. He walked toward Frederick Pater’s office, which was located near the front of the large open bay filled with drafting boards and desks.
      Watching Jeremy walk away, Mary Ellen tapped her pencil against her lips absent-mindedly and admired the way his white shirt strained against his shoulders. Her eyes drifted below his belt.
     [...]

Benjamin's Field Trilogy
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About the Author

J. J. Knights is a retired FBI Special Agent. His assignments included violent crimes and fugitives, property crimes, civil rights investigations, and foreign counterintelligence. He was a surveillance pilot, SWAT sniper, media representative, and worked in the FBI's technical investigations program.

Knights also volunteered as a Civil Air Patrol pilot, squadron commander and public information officer. He is an emeritus member of the Imperial Public Relations Committee of Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

A native of New England, Knights resides in southwestern Pennsylvania with his wife and honeybees. He has authored several published articles on law enforcement recruiting. Benjamin's Field is his first novel.

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