Archive for Blood Mountain

Awesome Review for BLOOD MOUNTAIN

“Preller combines brave characters
with vivid descriptions of the perilous mountain,
grasping readers’ emotions in the same way
as Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series.” 

 

The good folks at Booklist have long been sympathetic to my work. It seems I can always count on them for a fair and thoughtful reading. This review came across my desk yesterday. As you know, I’m very proud of this book, can’t wait to get it out into the world. Here’s the full review . . .

Combine a strenuous hike in an unfamiliar wilderness park, lost kids, a dangerous hermit, a rogue mountain lion, a faithful dog, and a savvy female ranger and you have the gist of Preller’s exciting thriller. Grace, 14, and Carter, 11, have agreed to a day hike up Blood Mountain with their father, though their dog, Sitka, is the only one who seems excited at the prospect. The siblings soon leave their slow, out-of-shape father behind, zipping up to the breathtaking outlook. What they don’t realize is that their father has had a heart attack and collapsed, and a PTSD-plagued Marine, who resides on the mountain, is stalking them. Lost, hungry, and alone, Grace and Carter encounter dangers from the wilderness and the Marine. Sectioned into six parts of a day each, this tale of survival is relayed in short chapters that cycle through the various characters’ perspectives. Preller combines brave characters with vivid descriptions of the perilous mountain, grasping readers’ emotions in the same way as Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series. 

 

BLOOD MOUNTAIN IS A 2019 JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION!

Junior Library Guild Selection for “Blood Mountain”

          

 

Happy to share that BLOOD MOUNTAIN (Oct 8, 2019) is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Think “Hatchet” meets “Misery” . . . and there’s a dog! Perfect for fans of wilderness survival and adventure stories. In this fast-paced novel for middle-grade readers, two siblings, Carter (11) and Grace (13), thought the hike with their dad and their dog would be uneventful. But the hike on Blood Mountain soon turns ominous as the siblings become separated from their father. They are lost, braving the elements, fighting to survive. They are also being tracked, but who will reach them first: the young ranger leading the search, or the erratic mountain man living off the grid? When Grace injures herself in a fall, Carter decides to set out alone to seek help, leaving them both more vulnerable. Told in alternating points of view, this survival story will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Institutional reviews should start coming in soon — fingers crossed. This is one of those rare cases when I know, deep in my bones, that this is a book readers will really enjoy. I believe in it with all my heart and I’m proud of it. Early feedback from friends and family has been very enthusiastic (I’ve heard “best one yet” from a number of folks, including my wife). And the recognition from the Junior Library Guild is a very encouraging sign. 

I hope this book finds an audience.

Oh, and by the way, still have far too many open slots for school visits. Contact me directly at jamespreller@aol.com. 

My thanks for your support!

Dreams, rejections, good news from the Junior Library Guild, etc.

I’ve got a picture book manuscript making the rounds with publishers these days. I teamed up with illustrator Jennifer Sattler, who lives not far in Saratoga. She’s incredible.

          

(And, clearly, she’s slumming).

It was nice to collaborate for a change. The process was refreshing, open-hearted and often hilarious — together we came away convinced that this was a good story, a meaningful story, borderline brilliant, and we were confident that it would find a publisher. Maybe a few.

That hasn’t quite happened yet. We are told that summertime is slow. Nonetheless we still received a few rapid rejections, like machine gun fire. But this time we had each other, which was new for me in this mostly solitary business.

Here’s the thing. Despite all the best advice, my usual reaction to rejection is to . . . believe it. I get defeated and figure they are probably right. And it changes the way I view the manuscript, and my own worth. I guess I do suck.

WARNING: Don’t try this at home, people!

I mean to say: That’s not a pro tip. The smart money tells us to believe, believe, believe. To hang in there, pull up our socks, keep plugging away, have faith, blah blah blabbity blah.

After one disappointing rejection, I texted Jen: “This stupid business is going to break my heart.

She texted me back: “It’s okay. Someone will get it, it’s a great story.”

Nice, right? Just what I needed to hear. I even kind of believed her for an entire afternoon.

Last week, while out on the Cape, dodging tornadoes and sharks, I awoke to the memory of an anxiety dream. An editor replied that our book was either the best thing she’s ever read or the worst, she couldn’t be sure, and for that reason was sorry to reject my submission.

Ha, ha, ha. It felt then, and still feels now, about right. 

I’ve never had great success with picture books. I’ve had seven published over the years. I’ve discovered that a typical reply from a picture book editor is that the story didn’t knock her socks off. Imagine how that feels to the writer. It’s a fair desire, I suppose — kablooey, socks blown off feet — but such an elusive, arbitrary goal to achieve. How does one knock someone else’s socks off, especially if she is wearing shoes? Simply write something amazing, I suppose.

I guess that’s the business. As we say in children’s publishing, it’s a bunny eat bunny world.

That same morning, I opened an email and learned that my upcoming novel, Blood Mountain (Macmillan, October 10), was just named a Junior Library Guild selection. It’s a huge honor and an encouraging sign at a time when the book has not yet been reviewed (October pub date). A bellwether of future success! That’s the third novel of mine that has earned such a nod from the folks at the Junior Library Guild, including Bystander and The Courage Test. I’m extremely grateful to them for shining the spotlight. Books tend to get lost in the flood.

So there we have it: Despair and small triumph before I have my second cup of coffee. What a business. 

And, oh yes, I have a new book out today. It’s pub day for Bee the Change (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the third book in the “Big Idea Gang” trilogy. 

I ain’t dead yet. 

“Reading Junky” Blog Reviews BLOOD MOUNTAIN

“A fast-paced,
action-packed story
that is filled with intense moments
and well-researched outdoor information
. . . Preller nails it.”

— The Reading Junky

 

 

My thanks go out to Sally Kruger, i.e. The Reading Junky, for giving such a thoughtful review to my upcoming book, BLOOD MOUNTAIN. It’s a terrific, well-written blog, so please check it out. Now back to that review I was telling you about . . . 
Grace, Carter, and their father set out to hike Blood Mountain, but their plans quickly change. Dad just isn’t going as quickly as the kids would like so they take off ahead with the family dog, Sitka. When their father begins feeling chest pains and other scary heart attack related symptoms, the kids are too far away to give him the help he needs. 
Excited by the sights and sounds, Grace and Carter keep hiking on. Their difficulties begin when Grace slips and slides down a cliff. When she lands, she has an ugly gash on one leg, a possibly broken ankle on the other, and most likely several broken ribs. Leaving the dog to guard Grace, Carter heads back to find their father and get help.
What follows is a breathless adventure involving a dangerous mud bog, an escaped mountain lion, and a mountain man intent on keeping his whereabouts unknown. A local ranger becomes involved in the rescue. When she learns two kids are missing on the mountain, she is determined they won’t be lost on her watch.
In BLOOD MOUNTAIN author James Preller tells a fast-paced, action-packed story that is filled with intense moments and well-researched outdoor information. From the detailed description of the father’s heart attack symptoms to facts about mountain terrain/wildlife, and knowledge of traumatized veterans, Preller nails it. Readers will be pulled from start to finish hoping for a satisfying conclusion.

Brutally Honest 93-Year-Old Critic Raves About BLOOD MOUNTAIN: “I’m Sure It’s Wonderful.”

Thanks, Mom!