Tag Archive for home sweet horror

Publishers Weekly Reviews First Book in SCARY TALES Series: “Home Sweet Horror”

“Gasp-worthy scenes and chilling twists.”

It’s a long slog, this business of getting published, with many milestones along the way. The concept, the contract, the first draft, the editor’s notes, the first glimpse at the artwork, revision, and more revision, the advance reader’s copy, and so on. It takes a while, the result of contributions from many good people.

Before there’s even a finished book, comes the first review.


Well, I guess there’s no turning back now.

May 20, 2013, issue of Publishers Weekly.
Home Sweet Horror
James Preller, illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Feiwel and Friends, $14.99 (112p) ISBN 978-1-250-01887-8
Preller (the Jigsaw Jones mysteries) serves up gasp-worthy scenes and chilling twists in this illustrated chapter book that launches the Scary Tales series. Suspense builds gradually: when eight-year-old Liam, his widowed father, and older sister, Kelly, arrive at their ominous-looking new home, he sees a flicker of light from an upstairs window; the next morning, he hears floorboards groaning, radiators hissing, and someone moaning. Preller raises the stakes as Liam, investigating a clanging noise in the basement, falls through a stair and feels “a thin, skeletal grip” on his dangling leg; later, Kelly and a friend attempt to summon Bloody Mary—a bit too successfully. Sound effects reproduced in large type amplify Liam’s fear, and Bruno’s heavily inked, etching-like pictures intensify the story’s spookiness. In contrast to the scary bits, Preller also gives the story a tender emotional undercurrent: the family is still aching from the death of the siblings’ mother, who may still be looking out for her family. Just enough chills to keep burgeoning readers flipping pages. I Scream, You Scream pubs simultaneously. Ages 7–10. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (July)

Fan Mail Wednesday #161: In Which Juan Hopes I Am Happy

This is just lovely . . .

Seriously, how lucky can a guy get? To open an envelope and find something as pure and kind and good as this?

Plus — it came with a drawing. Be careful, it’s a little spooky. . .

I replied to Juan this way, knowing that my letter could never be as good as his:

Dear Juan:

Thank you for your kind letter. I am always pleased when someone (finally!) notices that I’m cool.

Do not worry, Juan, because I am happy. I am fantastically, terrifically happy. I have three great kids, an awesome wife, two black cats, and a dog that barks and barks and barks. I think she’s insane! Perra loca!

Guess what? I just read a beautiful letter – from YOU! And it came with the coolest, spookiest picture! And guess what else? Now it’s hanging up on my office wall!

Thanks, also, for saying that I am a nice person. I try, every day. I bet you try, too, because writing that letter to me was a very, very, VERY nice thing to do.

I hope you can find plenty of Jigsaw Jones books in the library. Free books to read! What could be better? (Okay, free chocolate, sure. That’s tough to beat. But books are pretty tasty, too.)

The good news is that I’ve been writing a new series for readers your age. Every book will be a scary story. The series will be called –- are you ready for this? are you holding onto your hat? – SCARY TALES. The first book is called Home, Sweet Horror and it will be available in July. I’m most excited about Book #3, though. It has zombies in it!

My best,

James Preller

First Review for “Home Sweet Horror,” Book #1 of SCARY TALES Series

Question #1: If your friend writes a review of your book, does that negate it as an objective critical assessment?

Question #2: What is friendship, anyway?

I first “met” Franki Sibberson through her blog, A Year of Reading, co-written with Mary Lee Hahn. (You can read about them here, from a nice piece at possibly the world’s greatest children’s literature blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.)  If I recall correctly, Franki suggested that a character in one of my books, Miss Lobel in Along Came Spider, might be included in her ever-evolving list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children’s Literature.

In response to that, I believe that I bought Franki a car. Or maybe commented favorably on her blog. Something like that. Time passed, as time does, and last year I was given the opportunity of attending the fabulous 2012 Dublin Literacy Conference. You know, the one that’s not in Ireland. On that happy sojourn, I arrived at Franki’s school as a visiting author and we had a great day.

I always say that authors don’t do school visits — schools do author visits. So if that day was indeed a success, I owe 90% of that to Franki, the teachers, administrators, and students who put so much effort into the visit before I even arrived with my loud demands for more fluffy pillows, oscillating fans, belly dancers and blue M & M’s (and only blue M & M’s)

So, yes, I confess: We became friends. But not the hugging kind, mind you, since . . . Franki Don’t Hug. Got it? Okay. So just back it up, fella. One more step, good. Our friendship is on a firm handshake basis. Anyway, we are friends. That sometimes happens when librarians and authors meet and get a chance to hang out. Today, of course, I deeply wish that I wasn‘t friends with Franki. Wouldn’t her kind review of my new series be more valuable if, say, we hated each other? If only we were mortal enemies somehow — a long enmity passed down through generations! — and Franki Sibberson despised everything about me! — and yet still, even so, felt compelled (reluctantly, bitterly) to write a nice review of my book?

That, my friends and neighbors, would be a review worth chirping out!

Anyway, I’m rambling & my stomach is rumbling & I’m afraid I’m not making sense.

So, there’s this: Thank you, Franki, for your kindness.

Here: a fist-bump across cyberspace.

To read the review in full glory, click like a maniac on this link. If not, here’s the intro:

I felt like I won the lottery when I was handed an ARC of James Preller’s new book (the first in a new series–HOME SWEET HORROR (SCARY TALES SERIES).  I had heard about this series as I am a huge James Preller fan  (because he is one of the best author visits ever). But I didn’t know the arcs were available yet.  So I was thrilled to get one when I had asked for books appropriate for 4th grade at his publisher’s booth at NCTE.  This was the first on my stack that I read when returning from NCTE.  I actually took it out of a child’s hands so that I could read it over Thanksgiving break.  And I loved it.

Come back next week for another impartial review . . . from my mom!

Status Update: Spinning Plates

As you may know, I’ve been writing a new series for Feiwel & Friends. It my first return to writing a series since”Jigsaw Jones.” These past six years I’ve published exclusively in hardcover: picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult. But I haven’t written anything for my old core readership, that 3rd-grade audience. I’ve been happy getting back to that age group (grades 2-4 really), and shooting unabashedly for big entertainment, pleasure reading, pure fun.

What’s it like to write a series? The pace is faster, for starters. Most recently I spent a full year writing Before You Go, and a lot of time fussing with it, and then another full year waiting for it to come out. It was slow-going, more about depth than speed, mostly in a good way.

Whereas writing a series feels more like this . . .

Status Update on the SCARY TALES Series:

Book #1: Home Sweet Horror

My work is done, just about. It’s been written, revised, and type-set. The illustrations are in, and the cover is done. Though the book isn’t “final,” exactly, it’s moved off my radar. Due out: July, 2013.

Book #2: I Scream, You Scream

I had forgotten the title for this one, actually had to look it up. That fact alone tells you something about the blur. The story, a thriller, has been written, revised, and copyedited. I have not seen galleys yet — that is, the type set in the exact way it will appear in book form — and that’s an important “last-best chance” to make chances, corrections. Those pages are due to me next week. The illustrations are works in progress, and I’m eager to see them. No cover, either. It’s been so long since I’ve seen this book, I feel like I’ve lost touch. I’m eager to read it again, deal with it one more time. Due out: July, 2013.

Book #3: Night of the Zombies (tentative title)

My first draft got a little too long, and a possibly a touch too old. So in revision I had to do some real cutting — eliminated an entire character! — and now my editors and I are very, very happy with it. I’m awaiting the copyedit (think: grammar, punctuation, clarity, continuity, consistency). Usually when I receive that, I’ll also receive some additional comments from the story editors. “Little things,” I’m told. Due: October, 2013 (I think).

Book #4: Untitled

The general story concept has been approved. I haven’t written a word. Well, not exactly. I have started scribbling on index cards, thinking about characters, plot points, doing some research. The real writing has not yet begun, since I just finished the revision for #3 two weeks ago. I’m shifting gears. After four books, the contract runs out — and ultimately the next move will be up to the purchasing public. I have a lot more ground to cover with this series, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. High hopes! Due: January, 2014 (wild guess).