"Dodd presents a novel about the unexpected pivotal moments and pleasures of growing up. In 1994, Thomas Ransom 'Ran' Fox Jr. looks back two decades to when he was 12 years old and sent, reluctantly, to spend the summer with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Breland on Pawleys Island, South Carolina. With no friends in the area, a gruff uncle who appears resentful for no identifiable reason, and—worst of all—no working television for easy entertainment, the subsequent three months seem like they'll be irredeemably bleak (save, of course, for Aunt Sarah’s excellent peanut butter and banana sandwiches). Then Ran meets Joey, a local boy his age who not only helps Ran finish his yard work in half the time, but also introduces him to an intricate ecosystem of summertime adolescent adventure. Suddenly, there are girls to be kissed, sunrises to wake up early for, and arcade games to play at local hangout King's, where he can enjoy snow cones ('You can try all our snowball flavors!' says the girl behind the counter there. 'They're really just snow cones, but we call them snowballs'). There are also complicated family histories to confront—including one that explains Uncle Breland's initial resistance to having Ran come to stay. Dodd’s writing is lucid and engaging. Just as the island setting is densely imagined, so, too, are the book’s characters carefully and precisely observed; Ran's first-person narration is sustained and observant, offering a wry, pleasurable foray into an adolescent mind. The story itself isn't always surprising, but this is part of its allure, as a pleasant nostalgia becomes apparent in individual plot points (Ran's hopeless crush on older girl Heather Altman plucks especially familiar strings) to the chapter titles lifted from old 1970s songs (Drift Away, Smoke on the Water, What’s Going On). A lively coming-of-age story that's sure to resonate with anyone who looks back fondly on their childhood summers."
— Kirkus Reviews, "Recommended Read"
"Plot/Idea (9/10): The author has crafted a charming story of a 12-year-old boy's quietly eye-opening summer spent with his aunt and uncle. The throwback chapter titles of 70s songs--as well as other cultural touchstones--provide verisimilitude without becoming overplayed.
Prose (10/10): The author is a talented writer with solid command of language. Action, dialogue, and description are all handled with grace and ease.
Originality (8/10): The Sea Turtle is a touching coming-of-age story set against a 1970s beachy backdrop. While not wholly original in concept, Dodd brings the circumstances to life.
Character/Execution (9/10): Characterization here is top notch from Ran to Joey to Joni and beyond; Dodd is particularly skilled at creating nuanced relationships via expressive dialogue and subtle cues."
Overall Assessment: 9 out of 10
— Critic's Report from Publishers Weekly's BookLife Prize
"As one who spent many summer months on Pawley’s Island I can say the author truly captures the experience as seen through the eyes and experiences of a young boy’s transition to adulthood. Easily understood yet incredibly accurate descriptions of those summers evokes many fond memories and captures of the sights, sounds, and smells of beach days and arcade nights. While I have not been back to Pawley’s in a few years, this book, and its stimulus of memories, compels me to plan a trip for a few more of those days in the sun, sand, and surf."
— 5-star Amazon review
"I enjoyed this engaging novel. It not only clearly depicts a man determined to take his mainstream Christian life to the next level and to a higher calling, but I was challenged and encouraged in my own faith. We all need to be spurred on towards the goal, to paraphrase Hebrews 10:14. I would recommend this novel as an informal instruction manual for anyone new to personal evangelism. Dodd demonstrates again and again ways to engage the lost and offers encouragement for when the conversations don't go as we humans have it planned in our heads. My favorite line from this novel is, 'So often we get caught-up in the question of What's God's will for me? that we ignore what he's already told us to do.' This truth could not be said any simpler."
— Abby Morales, author of Jamie Morgan
"As any Christian knows, there are times when your faith is tested. I feel like A Seed For The Harvest lets you know that it is okay to question yourself or seek more wisdom during these times. The story highlights the extent to which your Christianity can truly change your life. I really enjoyed how well the main character was developed; Jon Smoak is completely relatable to the average reader's everyday life. I found the book to be inspirational and made me want to deepen my own faith and strengthen my relationship with the Lord. As someone who has recently been through some very trying situations, A Seed for the Harvest came along at a very appropriate time. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is in need of some inspiration, whether you are a life-long religious follower, or a new-found Christian. It may even be an interesting read for some non-believers. If you'd like to curl up with a good book this winter and join Jon in his pilgrimage toward a closer relationship with his Christian faith, I recommend A Seed For the Harvest."
— Tricia Lacey, Reviews, Chews & How-to's
"A Seed for the Harvest is an inspiring piece of Christian fiction...a story that could entertain both believers and those who are searching for a closer relationship with God...many engaging and original characters...the kind of narrative that offers hope and redemption."
— 4-Star review from Red City Review
"A fine line exists between cosmetic Christianity and the real thing stripped to its core. This novel captures the crisis-struggle of finding one’s authentic faith and purpose. I found it finely crafted, fast-paced, and character-driven, with twists and turns all the way to the end. Highly recommended for anyone searching for a deeper spiritual connection. Something within you will grow. Not surprised to see it awarded, A Seed for the Harvest delivers."
— Gary Comer, author & founder of SoulWhispererMinistry
"This Christian novel starts off in a church, which is a very appropriate place to begin. We follow our main character Jon as he struggles with his decisions and choices. The book is well written and straight forward, the characters well developed and intriguing. Since the Christian elements are very heavily used and focused on throughout the book, this novel will most appeal to those who are believers, but it may also appeal to those who are looking for a new guiding force to help them live a better life."
— Maple Lane Books
"Outstanding novel! From the very first page, I found it captivating. As a believer, I was challenged and inspired by every story. I would also strongly recommend this book to any seeker. This would be a great gift to a non-believer. The gospel is presented in a very clear non-threatening way. The ending... wow, I did not see that coming!!!"
— 5-Star Amazonreview from Scott C., Lexington, SC
"A great story of the life changing impact that occurs when someone actually meets Christ and surrenders their life to him. Well written, engaging, funny and I love how the author developed the main character, showing how he was pretending to be a Christian prior to his conversion then demonstrated what his life looked like after conversion. This book gives several different Gospel presentations and is a fantastic resource for both believers as well as seekers. Highly recommended."
— 5-Star Amazon review from Charlie M., Columbia, SC
"This book was enjoyable to read! It had a good, fast moving plot along with a Christian message of hope. It has some surprises too."
— 5-Star Amazon review from Virginia C., Minneapolis, MN
"Very inspirational! I couldn't put it down."
— 5-Star Amazon review from Lucy R., Pawleys Island, SC
"Greg Dodd weaves a challenging and intriguing story of his principal character's Christian walk. A rather surprising ending."
— 4-Star Amazon review from Dee S., Winter Park, FL
"Excellent story with a surprise ending!"
— 5-Star Amazon review
"Whether or not faith plays a part in readers' lives, this touching play will be sure to leave a lasting mark on hearts and minds of all ages. Beyond being about five men who gather together in a church setting to discuss a book, The Gills Creek Five serves as an enlightening testament to the resiliency and resolve of the human spirit. On top of being a brilliantly told story with an uplifting message, this play is flat-out enjoyable to read. The greatest thing that this play has going for it is the depth and reality of the dialogue. Immediately, the reader gets a developed sense of who each of the characters in the play is. Their voices jump off of the page, and without ever having to describe them explicitly, the author paints a vivid picture of each man. A large part of that vivid picture has to do with how real, raw, and riotously funny the dialogue is. At times, it seems as though the author might have actually jotted down his interviews with real people verbatim, even though it's a work of fiction. It's this commitment to the way that people actually speak that moves the narrative forward at a break-neck pace. Before the reader knows it, they've flown through the entire play. The Gills Creek Five sucks readers in and won't let them go until it's really engaged them in a powerful discussion about life’s meaning and the purpose of everyone's individual journey along the way. And despite its depth, it still manages to be largely comedic. Regardless of religious persuasion, this play is worth a try for its universal truths and lighthearted, realistic dialogue."
— 5-Star review from Red City Review
"The Gills Creek Five pushes creativity's envelope. With humor — and the abrasions and poignancy of raw candid banter — we enter the five characters' human plight and perhaps a bit of our own. Somehow, wit and hilarity aside, their lives get mixed up together where something deeply transcendent and magical occurs."
— Gary Comer, author of Soul Whisperer and ReMission
"Dodd tells the story of five men brought together to form an unlikely book club in this Christian three-act play. Dane is a divorced English teacher with an unpublished novel. When he started a Christian book club for men in the classroom of a church in Columbia, South Carolina, he had no idea what sort of characters might show up. Rett, it turns out, is someone he knows: a garrulous former pastor with whom Dane attended college but who has since undergone a faith journey that he can’t stop talking about. Sam is a veterinarian transplant from England who has trouble picking up on social cues, which is why he’ll happily natter on about the most recent enema he’s performed on a cat. Overweight, 24-year-old Emile doesn’t have a “job-job, like most people,” but rather spends his time on “tabletop fantasy role-play games, like HeroQuest and Feng Shui.” Emile balks at the length of the selected book. Most colorful is Martin, the loquacious and oft-drunk jokester whose wife thinks he’s at the AA meeting down the hall. Dane has his work cut out for him attempting to herd these cats into a functional book club. Martin needles, Rett butts in, Emile complains, and Sam loses the plot. But as the discussion moves to the text and beyond, Dane finds this collection of odd men to be a surprisingly fertile community. Faith, fears, and failing marriages all come up as each man slowly drops his guard and bares his soul. Dodd excels at the sort of dense, colorful dialogue necessary to sustain a play about a group of men in a room. Each of the five primary characters is so present and alive in their speech that the reader can easily picture them without the need of an actor to embody them. The standouts are Emile, with his halting, slangy utterances, and Martin with his hammy verbiage....The Christian angle, while present, is not as heavy-handed as one might expect, and there are some thoughtful discussions on the nature of faith even if they end up in predictable places. It’s the character dynamics that really keep the reader turning the pages, however. A thoughtful, funny play about men from a Christian perspective."
— Kirkus Reviews, "Recommended Read"
Copyright © Greg M. Dodd. All rights reserved.