Books: river secrets
  The ARC letter

ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) are cheaply-bound copies of a book that are given out months ahead of a book's release to reviewers, booksellers, librarians, and such. My publisher asked me to write a letter to put in the front of the ARC for river secrets, and here it is.

Dear Reader,

I blame it all on Mrs. Spackman, my fourth grade teacher, who first got me hooked on writing stories. In an assignment from that year, I wrote about myself, "She loves reading, bike riding, and animals. She's in 4th grade and hopes to be a writer." I had no idea when I wrote those words that it would actually come true! And now, to not only get to be a storyteller, but have a Newbery Honor (still gasping) and be here writing a letter to you in the front of my fourth book...well, itís enough to make a girl believe in fairy tales. But this story is about Razo, who is way cooler than I am, so let me get out of his way.

Razo was a very minor character in the goose girl, and though he didn't even appear in the outline for enna burning, somehow wormed his way into a significant part of that story. Insistent, is he? Oh, yes. I never planned on giving him his own book, but here it is. I've never had a character come to me so easily as Razo did, and I've never enjoyed writing a first draft as much as river secrets.

In 2003, we welcomed a baby boy into our family, and in part having my Max inspired me to write from the point-of-view of a boy. But mostly this book came because I found Razo just too much fun to ignore. I hope you like hanging out with him, too. There's nothing that boy likes so well as new friends. Except perhaps a good shish kabob.

Shannon Hale

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