Archive for jimmy

FAN MAIL WEDNESDAY #274: From (Presumably) a Really Big Fan!

 

I can’t be sure — it’s hard to tell from here — but I suspect that this letter came from a GIANT named Brady. 

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Could there be any other explanation?

I replied:

Dear Brady,

Wow, you sent me the coolest letter ever! Kind of huge, don’t you think?

Thank you for reading Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Christmas Snowman. There’s plenty more where that came from!

I also loved your drawings. You’ve got a lot of talent, young man. Keep it up.

You wondered where I live. It’s Top Secret!!! No, actually, I live in upstate New York, a town called Delmar, just south of Albany. Our nearest river is the Hudson and the nearest Duncan Donuts shop is five minutes away. The way a car needs gas, I need coffee to run. In fact, if you ever see me stalled on the side of the road, bring me a cup of regular with milk, no sugar. I’ll perk right up!

I am 57 years old. But I don’t look any older than 54. It’s the little things, Brady.

I LOVE that one of your two favorite lines from the book was, “With what?” That was a good day when I wrote that line. 

Ah, sweet inspiration.

Hey, have a great summer. You addressed your stamped envelope to your elementary school, so I hope you get it before school starts up again.

Keep reading books, any books at all, even mine.

Your friend,

James Preller

Jigsaw Jones Update: 5 More Titles Coming Soon!

Question: So what’s new with Jigsaw Jones?

Answer: Funny you should ask! There’s actually a lot going on and I’m excited to tell you about it.

First, I handed in a manuscript last week for a new Jigsaw Jones title, The Case of the Hat Burglar. It centers around the school’s Lost & Found. We’ll see how my editor likes it (fingers crossed). I am not clear on the pub date for this or any of the following titles. Note to self: Find out!

As readers may know, I wrote many Jigsaw Jones titles over roughly a 15 year period. Those books were originally published by Scholastic. Over time, they slowly went out of print. It was sad. I regained the rights, and Macmillan quickly stepped up with a plan to republish the series. To date, I’ve written one all-new book, The Case from Outer Space. In addition, we’ve put out 8 “classroom classics.” Each book completely revised and reformatted (slightly larger trim size). 

Now I’ve been asked to revise and update 4 more titles (plus the aforementioned “all new” title). That will make 14 titles available in all. We’re making progress! Thank you, Macmillan. And thank you, Scholastic, for once more offering these books on your fabulous book clubs!

To recap:

ALL NEW!

The Case from Outer Space

 

COMING SOON!

The Case of the Hat Burglar

 

REVISED & UPDATED!

The Case of the Bicycle Bandit

The Case of the Glow-in-the-Dark Ghost

The Case of the Mummy Mystery

The Case of the Million-Dollar Idea

The Case of the Best Pet Ever

The Case of the Disappearing Dinosaur

The Case of the Smelly Sneaker

The Case of the Buried Treasure

     

     

 

COMING SOON!

The Case of the Golden Key

The Case of the Bear Scare

The Case of the Vanishing Painting

The Case of the Haunted Scarecrow

 

Joey and Danika visit Jigsaw’s house in THE CASE FROM OUTER SPACE. This wonderful illustration is by R.W. Alley.

 

I very much look forward to sharing these stories with a new generation of readers. With 11 million Jigsaw Jones books in print, this series is fairly well-known with experienced (read: older) teachers. I’ve learned that quite a few newer teachers are less familiar with Jigsaw and Mila and the gang. Hopefully you’ll check them out! Please know that I am eager to sign up school visits for next year. Openings still available. Just drop a line to jamespreller@aol.com. Thanks!

David Bowie died when I was writing this book . . . so I had to get him in there somehow

For some reason, the mansion’s sound system

began blasting David Bowie

— “Ch-ch-changes” — at earsplitting volume.

Until that moment, I hadn’t realized

that Talal Mirwani was a Bowie fan.

But then again, isn’t everybody?

— BETTER OFF UNDEAD.

 

Music is important to many artists and writers. Talk to us and we’ll discuss what we were listening to during different projects, either for inspiration or, you know, because it happened to be the summer when that particular album dropped. It was in the air we breathed.

We hear the sounds — they jangle through our synapses — and leak into our work. Often we can look back on that artwork and see traces of those tunes in the words and images we used.

David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. It was a death that got a huge response on public media, bigger, perhaps, than many of us might have imagined. It hit us hard. The Thin White Duke, gone. It was difficult to wrap our minds around it. We realized the extent to which he was a part of our lives. Always there. Now gone.

At that time I was finishing up my middle-grade novel, Better Off Undead. Listening to Bowie during those weeks after his death — so many of us went through it all again, the blessed discography: “Aladdin Sane,” “Diamond Dogs,” “Low,” and on and on and on — conjuring memories, visions of our youth, past friendships, the whole shebang — one phrase caught my ear: 

Turn and face the strange.”

It struck me: That would be a cool title for a book. I scribbled out a large, dramatic type treatment. I even thought it would have been a cool title for the very book I was writing. But by that time, I had an approved title and maybe I was just being sentimental. It felt too late to change it now. Too many hurdles and hassles. Yet I wanted to get Bowie into the book somehow.

To set the scene, it’s at the climax when Adrian Lazerus confronts the evil-billionaire Bork brothers (loosely modeled after the Koch brothers) and learns their dark secret. A lot happens in that scene. A drone drifts outside the window . . . sparks start and the sprinkler system gets set off . . . alarms blare . . . a dramatic fight between Gia and a massive bodyguard . . . pure chaos. And, admittedly, a little over the top. Hopefully entertaining.

From pages 258-259:

Halpert called out instructions to the bodyguard over the deafening blare of alarm bells. “Carry them through the tunnels to the heliport. Move quickly! I’ll initiate the self-destruct sequence from the communication center.”

The sprinklers slowed to a steady drip. Zander rose groggily from the wet floor. I could see that his nose was broken. Bright red blood puddled at his feet, turning pink on the floor as it mixed with the water. “Let’s go,” I yelled, yanking him by the arm. I lifted up Dane to my face and kissed him. Gia advanced to the lead, and the four of us swept out of the room. 

For some reason, the mansion’s sound system began blasting David Bowie — “Ch-ch-changes” — at earsplitting volume. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized that Talal Mirwani was a Bowie fan. But then again, isn’t everybody?

Turn and face the strange!”

“What happened back there?” Zander yelled as we splashed and slipped down the hallway. 

“It was Talal!” I yelled over the noise. 

And so it goes, on to the book’s big finish. 

I’m glad I squeezed Bowie in there. 

It’s the little things that make writers happy. And, of course, praise and royalty checks.

On a similar theme, I once started a Jigsaw Jones book: 

“I woke up. I got out of bed. I dragged a comb across my head.”

Nobody ever said a word to me about that, either.

How Does a School Librarian Get Books Returned? Promise Them Anything!

It’s an annual problem at every school across the land. How do you get those books back at the end of the school year? Well, here’s one formula that seems to work . . . promise to do something “wacky.”

My great pal, Alanna Moss, does it again.

Readers might recall that one year Alanna got duct-taped to the wall. A hard one to top, admittedly.

 

This year, Alanna went with a classic, administered with a mix of caution and zeal by the school principal.

Anything to get those books returned!

Ichabod Crane Primary School is lucky to have Alanna. It leaves me wondering, once again, how it can be possible that any school in NY doesn’t have at least one full-time librarian? 

     

 

New Series Coming in January, 2019

This year I’ve written three chapter books about these characters and look forward to the launch of the series in January, 2018. Essentially: four friends use their powers of persuasion to drive positive change in their school community, i.e., a new mascot, a buddy bench, a bee-friendly garden. Think globally, act locally. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. I feel good about it. Good stories, diverse cast of characters, humor and heart. Hopefully elementary teachers who feature persuasive writing in their classrooms will enjoy these books and use them as mentor texts. Grades 2-4, I think.