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Blue Summer is winner of the 2021 Maine Literary Awards Fiction Prize!

"...the main character is tremendously appealing...we loved the way Jim Nichols wrote about music, and about creating music..." Judges, Maine Literary Awards
"Blue Summer offers no simple path to redemption, no easy walk to healing, but chronicles instead the flawed and broken gestures that we all make to honor the memory of the ones who continue to haunt us. With prose that can be both restrained and luminous, careful and lyrical, Nichols has composed here a story that is full of difficult truth and complex - and very often beautiful - Music." Jaed Coffin, author of Roughouse Friday
"In Cal Shaw, Nichols gives the reader a man humbled by experience who now looks back, accompanied by a melody — a melody that brought him back from the brink and is the same melody that will forever be his companion, bringing him memories of his youth, loss and love. It's an exceptional beginning and an exceptional book. Using a first-person perspective, Nichols lets Shaw tell us his story and provides us with not only a narrator but also a friend, a childhood buddy and a taxi-driving, recovering-alcoholic, cornet playing jazz musician to engage with in the process. Cal Shaw is all of that and much more, and Nichols expertly builds upon that throughout the story, adding layers to this man, some predictable and some very surprising." Rick Heller, The Quoddy Times
"Blue Summer is an effortless read, but that doesn't mean it is without deeper meaning, symbolism and moments of delicate thoughts." James M. Fisher, the Miramichi Reader
'The novel itself is crafted much like a blues piece – loose, tantalizing, taking readers in new directions, always turning back on itself. The author's process of getting the story down is much like Cal's working to capture a teasing and elusive musical mood. Nichols lets the story build slowly, as if it is carrying him where it wants to go. There are quarter notes and half notes scattered early that give the reader the thinnest glimpses of the tragedy of Cal's life. It isn't until the end, however, that the full tragedy is revealed. Blue Summer is Nichols's best yet." Frank O. Smith, Portland Sunday  Telegram

Prizes and Awards

2016 winner, Maine Book Award for Fiction

2015: Finalist, Maine Book Awards, short fiction

2014: Winner! December Magazine's Curt Johnson prize; Finalist Narrative Magazine Spring Fiction Contest; finalist Prime Number Magazine Awards: Short Story

2013: Finalist Narrative Magazine Winter Fiction Contest; Finalist Glimmer Train September Fiction Open; Semi-finalist Enizagam Fiction Contest

2012: Runner-up Maine Book Awards for Fiction; Silver medal IPPY (Independent Pubishers) Award for Regional Fiction (New York and New England)

Previous Prizes & Awards: Maine Arts Commission Independent Artists Fellowship; River City Writing Award for Fiction; Willamette Award for Fiction; American Fiction Vol. 9 Honorable Mention