Tag Archive for Junior Library Guild

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. 

First Official Review of THE COURAGE TEST, from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Things just got real.

The first review is in for The Courage Test, and the word is good.

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Money quote:

“Preller traverses both domestic drama and adventure story with equally sure footing, delivering the thrills of a whitewater rafting accident and a mama bear encounter, and shifting effortlessly to the revelation of Mom’s illness and the now urgent rapprochement between Dad and Will. Whatever young explorers look for on their literary road trips, they’ll find it here. — Elizabeth Bush, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

You can click here to read the review in its entirety.

A photo from a few years back, rafting the rapids on the Hudson River, guided by my dauntless nephew, Dan Rice. In that boat, that's Lisa's with mouth agape, and I'm in the back right. Also in the boat, my three kids: Nick (behind Lisa), Gavin (front), and Maggie, smiling. Good times.

A photo from a few years back, rafting the rapids on the Hudson River, guided by my dauntless nephew & river guide, Dan Rice. In the boat, that’s Lisa with mouth agape, and I’m in the back right. Also in the boat, my three kids: Nick (behind Lisa), Gavin (front), and Maggie, smiling. Good times.

Thank you, Elizabeth Bush, whoever you are!

In other news, The Courage Test was recently named as a Junior Library Guild Selection. I consider that a high honor, and very good tidings. Bystander was my last book to each that acclaim.

Ask for The Courage Test in your local independent book store. Publishing date: September 13, 2016.

BYSTANDER: A 2009 Junior Library Guild Selection

I received a curious package in the mail today, a padded envelope from the Junior Library Guild. It included a congratulatory letter from Jeanette Rivard, stating in part:

In keeping with our goal of providing extraordinary reading experiences for children, Bystander has been awarded the designation, “A Junior Library Guild Selection” for Fall 2009.

The Junior Library Guild Selection designation is unique in that it is typically awarded so early — often in advance of publication. With its distinction as one of the first awards given, it is often viewed as a bellwether of future success.

That’s some word, bellwether. It means: a male sheep, usually castrated, with a bell hung from its neck, that is followed by a flock of sheep. Well, my goodness, thank you very much, I think (as I slowly cross my legs).

The package also included a nifty JLG lapel pin, pinned now to my t-shirt, and a handsome certificate “suitable for framing.”

What? No bell?

Hey, pretty cool. Casting aside thoughts of castrated sheep, I thank you very much! Now if only we can get the rest of those pesky awards to fall in line. Baaa.