A great distraction

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Here in England, we are riding a rollercoaster with Brexit. No one knows how it’s going to turn out. Two weeks from now, will we still be in limbo? Will there be food in the supermarkets? Will medicines be in short supply? Will planes to Europe be flying? Will we have blackouts?

As a dyed-in-the-wool worrier, I’m grateful for distractions right now. And one of the best has arrived this week:

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It’s the Advanced Reader Copy of Ra #2!*

I loved writing The Great Tomb Robbery. It was a lot of fun to have Ra and Khepri tackle another fur-raising mystery, complete with ferocious jackals, dastardly thieves, and some super-spooky goings-on. (Not to mention snacks and naps!)

I won’t say the book wrote itself, but Ra and Khepri did sometimes take over, and it was great to spend more time with them.

The book also features dozens of Sarah Horne’s fabulous illustrations. And of course there’s her great new cover! One of my favorite bits is the lower left corner, where you can spot Khepri waving a precious clue.

Getting this has really brightened up my week — and I’m looking forward to sharing the book with the world when it officially comes out on October 8th!

 

(* ARCs are expensive to make, so the supply is quite limited. I only have one myself! But if you’re a librarian, reviewer, or book blogger who would like to review the book, get in touch soon, and I’ll gladly pass your details on to my publisher. Pharaoh’s Cat thanks you for your interest – and so do I!)

 

 

 

Spooky fun

Hip, hip, MEOW! Today I’m celebrating the book birthday of THE GREAT TOMB ROBBERY, the second Ra the Mighty mystery, with cake and cheers and maybe even some dancing in the kitchen. And after I eat my cake, I’ll be watching this book trailer, which is 59 seconds of madcap, spooky fun:

 

Huge thanks to Sarah Horne for the fabulous art, and to my husband for bringing it so ingeniously to life!

I also send my thanks to you, dear readers and dear friends. I’m more grateful than I can say for all your warm and funny comments, letters, photos, videos, and drawings. I hope you enjoy reading Ra and Khepri’s second adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 

Insect heroes

I’m over at the fabulous Middle Grade Book Village website today, with a short and quirky post about insect heroes.

A funny topic, you say? Yes, but also deadly serious. The survival of the world rests on insects, and yet they’re often seen as a nuisance – or worse. So I think it’s time our kids saw them getting some starring roles in their books.

Cats and dogs get a lot of love in middle-grade fiction. I say it’s time to cheer for insect heroes, too!  And Khepri would agree.

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Harvests

When we were given a grape vine a few years ago, I wasn’t expecting much. Our cool and cloudy summers seemed a far cry from what grapes need. But what a great crop we’ve had this year! This is the last of our bumper harvest — sweet and tart by turns, and tasting of sunshine.

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Another harvest came in last week, too — my copies of THE GREAT TOMB ROBBERY!

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The new book doesn’t come out until October 8th, but there’s a sneak preview on my website, where you can now read the first 2 chapters for free online!

If you like what you see, I’d be delighted if you pre-ordered the book, or asked your local library to get it.

I’m sorry I can’t share the grapes with you, too. When I’m eating them, it feels like summer is still here. Outside, however, I can see the first leaves turning, and the last apples are almost ready to pick. Fall is on its way.  Soon I’ll be wrapping up in capes to keep warm as I write.

For now, though, I’m just enjoying the turn of the season.

Ra in paperback!

Hurrah! RA THE MIGHTY has its paperback debut today!

Hardcovers are wonderful, but when I was a kid, I always bought paperbacks, because that’s what I could afford. I’d save up for months to buy one. So it makes me really happy to know that a Ra paperback will now be available for kids who are saving for a new book, just the way I did.

I’m also feeling enormously grateful to everyone who’s supported Ra in every form, from its first draft right on through to the hardback and now the paperback. Thanks for sending me your sweet notes and comments and drawings and photos! You’ve made my day a thousand times over.

To celebrate, I’m sharing the trailer once more, with my thanks to all of you! It’s pure fun and silliness, and I hope it makes you laugh.

 

A Ra the Mighty paperback giveaway

It’s back-to-school season, and Ra the Mighty leaps into paperback on Tuesday. To celebrate, I’m holding a giveaway for U.S. teachers, librarians, and school support staff.

The prize is a free copy of the new Ra the Mighty paperback, which includes a sneak peek at the first two chapters of Ra #2: The Great Tomb Robbery. I’ll gladly inscribe it for you or your classroom or school. And I’ll send you a Ra bookmark, too!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment here. (Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you if you win!) Or you can follow me on Twitter (@ab_greenfield) and retweet one of my posts about the giveaway. The contest will stay open until September 7, 2019 at midnight (PDT).

Good luck — and thanks for all you do to support the kids in your schools, and to connect them with great books!

Giveaway terms:
*US & Canada only (with apologies to the rest!)
*Open to teachers, librarians, and school support workers
*Giveaway runs from August 29, 2019 to September 7, 2019 at midnight PDT.
*The winner will be chosen at random and must respond within 14 days, or another random winner will be chosen. The name and/or handle of the winner will be posted on Twitter and my blog.

ETA (9/9/19): Congratulations to @teacherfig, who won the giveaway — and thank you to everyone who entered!

 

The crocodile has left the building

After I’ve daydreamed, scribbled, researched, outlined, drafted, despaired, rebounded, revised, consulted, reworked, and tweaked…

…it’s time to press send.

<deep breath>

This will be my eighth book, but my insides still twist when I think about hitting that button and letting go.

But I’ve got a finished manuscript that’s the best I can make it. I’ve had wonderful readers to help me. (Thank you, Tracy, Kit, David, and T!)  And I’ve got an editor who’s eagerly awaiting some crocodiles in her in-box.

So it’s goodbye and good luck to RA #3, THE CROCODILE CAPER!

<hits the button and breaks out the celebratory chocolate>

Done!

 

In which my cover is blown

For most of 2019, I’ve been walled up deep in my writing cave, working on two secret book projects.

As readers of Publisher’s Weekly will know, my cover already has been blown on one of them. I’m working on a YA biography of one of America’s first female cryptanalysts, a woman who has fascinated me for years. The book is called SECRETS & SPIES: THE HIDDEN LIFE OF CODEBREAKER ELIZEBETH SMITH FRIEDMAN.

It took me more than two years to find the right way to tell Elizebeth’s story, but I’m glad I persisted, because researching and writing this book has been a glorious experience so far.  A high point was my visit to the wonderful Marshall Library in Virginia, which holds 22 boxes of Elizebeth’s papers, including love letters, encrypted telegrams, and her college diary. My editor is the lovely Lee Wade of Schwartz & Wade, and Random House plans to publish the book in 2021.

My other WIP has been hush-hush till now. But today I’m happy to announce that there’s going to be a third Ra the Mighty mystery. RA AND THE CROCODILE CAPER will be coming to you in Fall 2020!

Juggling two books has made for a fraught six months, and I expect the next year will be pretty pressured, too. I’ve been working very long hours. But I couldn’t say no to either book because I love them both too much.

Luckily it’s working out pretty well. I’m tired but happy, and Elizebeth’s story of war, love, and madness is so intense and all-absorbing that it’s been good to have a little comic relief from Ra.

Wish me luck as I dive back into my writing cave!

 

Excited and scared

The first-pass proofs for the next Ra mystery have arrived, and as always the first glimpse gave me a jolt of excitement. It’s going to be a BOOK. You’d think I’d have realized that some time ago, and of course there’s a sense in which I have. But there are many months, when I’m deep in drafting, when a book is all mine, and sharing it with the world seems a distant prospect (and sometimes an unlikely one). But that time is over now for The Great Tomb Robbery. Now that it’s typeset and the illustrations are in and you can see the cover page, it’s incontrovertible: this book is on its way into the world.

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Like Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods, I’m “excited — / Well, excited and scared.”  Or maybe I’m more like Little Red’s mother, who probably had some of the same complicated emotions. Who wouldn’t, sending a child into the woods? Will she be all right? Will people be kind? Will she find her way?

Yet both books and children need to find their way into the world, and with luck they’ll find friends and have adventures that you never foresaw. At any rate, that’s what I hope for with The Great Tomb Robbery.

Still, it’s hard not to worry about all the pitfalls and misfortunes that can befall a good book. So it was especially wonderful to hear some great news about the first Ra book last week. The Mystery Writers of America have named Ra the Mighty an Edgar Award Nominee for Best Juvenile Mystery.  There are seven wonderful finalists in all, and I’m thrilled that Ra is among them — doubly so, since I know that humor is often overlooked when it comes to awards.

But there’s work to do yet on those proofs. So now I’m headed back to them.

 

 

 

Thanks, news, and a sequel

Congratulations to my friends who did NaNo this year! Whatever your final word count, you deserve a medal for taking the leap and pouring so much time and heart into your stories. I hope you can rest up now — and catch up on whatever you’ve missed most.

My own November was the opposite of NaNo, so I have no great leaps or impressive word counts of my own to brag about. But I’ve been doing steady work on several different projects that tug at my heart, and I’m looking forward to doing more of the same this month.

I also have some RA THE MIGHTY thank-yous and news to share:

First, a big thank-you to Allison at Allison’s Book Bag for a fantastic review of RA THE MIGHTY! Allison’s blog is a terrific resource for anyone who loves children’s books, and I’m honored that she enjoyed spending time with my Great Detectives.

I also want to thank another champion of children’s books, @mrsreadforfun (Shendel Haimes), for featuring RA THE MIGHTY in her terrific book trailer.

And now for the fun RA news:

  • RA THE MIGHTY will be published in Russia! The publisher Eksmo has bought the rights to the book and its sequel.
  • The sequel has a name… RA THE MIGHTY: THE GREAT TOMB ROBBERY. As you can guess from the title, our Great Detectives are up against a dastardly thief who is robbing the sacred (and spooky) tombs of the Pharaohs. Out in Fall 2019, it features sneaky jackals,  fabulous treasure, spine-tingling suspense, and more cat snacks than you can twitch your tail at! I hope to share the cover soon.