that is filled with intense moments
and well-researched outdoor information
. . . Preller nails it.”
— The Reading Junky
— The Reading Junky
It’s always exciting when a package arrives from my editor, Liz. A padded envelope filled with 6-7 ARCs. Advance Reader’s Copies. And so we move in fits and bursts toward that seemingly impossible day . . . a real book. October, 2019.
It’s going to happen. And on this day, holding an ARC in my hands, it feels more real than ever.
Here’s the briefest of samples from page 30, at the end of DAY ONE:
They lie down, huddle close, sharing the small emergency blanket. Head to head, toe to toe. The ground is, amazingly, not terrible. Sitka moves off to a nearby spot, curls up. After a few minutes, at Grace’s invitation, the tired dog presses into them for warmth.
A crack of thunder makes the earth shake. The rain comes down harder, but at least they are somewhat protected. A few giants of the woods fall in the night, great branches crashing to the ground. Grace reaches out of hold Carter’s hand.
“I’m glad we have the knife,” she whispers. “Try to sleep.”
Carter is too exhausted to answer. He gives a soft moan. In his heart, he feels that it’s going to be bad. Something awful, something terrible, is going to happen. And there’s nothing he can do about it. He lies awake, staring into the darkness. He senses a twitch in Grace’s leg. His sister has fallen asleep.
I wrote a wilderness survival thriller for middle-grade readers, grades 4-8, and I’m really proud of it. Can’t wait for this book to see the light of day. Think: Hatchet meets Misery . . . and there’s a dog. Siblings lost in the mountains.
Of course, this is a business that involves a lot of waiting. And then more waiting.
And then out of the indigo I get a jpeg of the final cover in an email from my editor, Liz — so I’m sharing it here with my best internet friends.
Illustration by Scott Altmann.
I may not know what day it is, but I do know the year — 2019, people. All. Year. Long. A strange year in my professional life with a wide variety of new books on the horizon: a new Jigsaw Jones, a new series (“The Big Idea Gang”), a middle grade survival thriller (Blood Mountain), and a picture book in haiku (All Welcome Here). Crazy, I know. All over the map. I’m hoping that folks find ’em, read ’em, like ’em, tell their friends.
Today’s letter comes from Lena in deepest Ohio:
I waited a year and replied:
Whew, that’s over. Welcome 2019, glad to be here, happy & alive & writing to you.
Your letter arrived during the holidays, so I set it aside. “I’ll deal with Lena next year.”
Yes, I have a birthday coming up. Soon to be 58 years old. You should try it someday, not as bad as it sounds (or looks!). Maybe like oysters in that sense. But I still refuse to eat clams, no matter what anybody says.
Anyway! I’m as old as your grampa and you and I share a birthday month. When it comes to presents, all I ever ask for is warm socks (a result of a mid-winter birthday) and books –- always books. I guess that’s another thing we have in common, the love of reading.
My favorite Jigsaw Jones title? Hmmm. I love The Case from Outer Space because it’s funny and The Case of the Buried Treasure because the mystery is so satisfying. I have a new one coming out in August –- does that seem far away? -– titled The Case of the Hat Burglar. I’m very proud of that one. I find that my favorite books tug at your heart a little bit. Maybe it’s just a moment in the book, a brief passage, but a true emotion can lift a book into the sky.
I do have a new book coming out at the end of January (that’s, like, soon!), titled Everybody Needs a Buddy. It’s part of a new series, “The Big Idea Gang,” and I’d say it is just a notch more challenging than Jigsaw Jones. Maybe you’ll give it a try?
As a reader, I like all sorts of things. I guess I’m always trying something different: sports, science fiction, biography, mystery, graphic novels. I listen to my friends. If they rave about a book, I’ll give it a spin.
Happy New Year, my new friend!