A quick post today about the coolest new development in my plan for World Middle Grade Author Domination! As of today, I am an official “Penguin Author Who Skypes” and if you have a class or book club that has read one of my books and you would like a free 30 minute Skype visit this year, you can get one by signing up here.
Of course, there are only a limited number of spots open (as I DO have to have some time to write the next book and all), so if you are super keen, you should probably put down your coffee right now and go sign up.
I’ve been doing these Skype visits off the radar for libraries and classes across the U.S. already, and I’ll admit, part of my reason for doing them is selfish. The chance to interact with readers, answer questions and discuss my books as well as other books I think they’d love really feeds my ex-teacher soul! And it gives me energy to keep on writing, too.
Now, back to the page! I’m presenting in San Antonio at the Region 20 Library Conference on Friday, and I have a speech to polish.
Okay, I KNOW this is a super late recap of some of the summer coolness that took place in super-hot August, but I have to share the fun event that was the End of Summer Middle Grade event at the Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas.
The books these friends wrote are AMAZING! Tara Dairman‘s All Four Stars, Rebecca Behrens‘ When Audrey Met Alice, K. A Holt‘s forthcoming Rhyme Schemer, and Jennifer Ziegler‘s Revenge of the Flower Girls all hold a spot on my bookshelf and in my heart.
From left to right: Tara Dairman, Rebecca Behrens, me, Kari Ann Holt, and Jennifer Ziegler.
We played trivia games, ate unicorn cake, and visited with the audience.
The audience included my utterly lovely and wonderful stepmom, Katherine.
A special treat was getting to meet Rebecca Behrens, who wrote an amazing book I got to blurb, and who happens to be represented by my agent! So we’re agent-sisters, and she is every bit as lovely in person as she is on the page.
New Leaf Author Selfie!
If you want to get a signed copy of any one of the books we spoke about (with the exception of Kari’s, which comes out in a month!), I know The Book Spot has some signed stock. So, go get some of those holiday gifts bought, and support a great indie bookstore!
Cool fact: Our picture got picked up by the Publisher’s Weekly roundup! Check it out. We look very fancy, yes?
Now, back to work! All sorts of exciting things going on here. Secret things, that will soon be official!
The writing of a book, especially a book that is intensely personal and meaningful like Nightingale’s Nest was for me, is only the beginning.
After the drafts, and the revisions, and the copy edits, and the worrying whether people will “get it” or like it, or even bother to review it… comes the promotional phase.
This is a difficult time for a writer. Suddenly, you are expected to be a marketing guru, a machine for creating memorable blog posts and funny tweets about the book, a constant advocate for it online and in person. It can be exhausting. For my debut novel, a funny/scary fairy tale re-imagining, it was all a roller coaster. But I didn’t mind the exhaustion, and I loved even the parts of that year that terrified me.
With Nightingale’s Nest, I was at a loss as to how to promote it effectively and appropriately. When something comes from that deep down, from so far inside you that the words seemed at times during the writing to come from somewhere… permanent, it’s hard to joke about it, or tell people why they should buy it, or even tell people what it’s about. “Would you like to read my book” in this case really means “Would you like to see my heart?”
And yet. Promote the book I have done, and will continue to do. But I’m doing it differently. I’m talking to librarians and teachers in person, and telling them some of the secrets in the book – and some of the hard truths of where it came from.
And I’m celebrating the places the story came from – both personal, and physical, where I did the writing of most of this book, the high desert of New Mexico.
And that means I took a book tour through New Mexico and Colorado, and celebrated this book alongside new friends and dear friends…
Authors Jenny Goebel, Tara Dairman, Ingrid Law, and me with my favorite 11 year old reader!
…some with their very own books to celebrate…
Kimberley Griffiths Little, author of the stunning novel Time of the Fireflies, and also the Nicest Person in New Mexico.
… and in groups of young writers, who amazed me with their own stories and talents…
Best idea yet! Young writer’s workshop at Beehive Books in Santa Fe. These kids were AMAZING.
… and took along one of my greatest treasures, and favorite sparks in this world…
Who could that masked man be?
We rode roller coasters, real ones…
First Roller Coaster for him!
Twisting coasters have nothing on a Kirkus review!
to go along with the roller-coaster-scary drop in the stomach that happens any time an author appears in a town far from home, not knowing who may show up…
Look at all those books at the Boulder Bookstore! Very Fancy Indeed.
and I spent time remembering why I do this job, and why I write books that break my heart to write, as well as make me laugh and smile.
Palo Duro, on the way home.
I do it for the beauty of it.
And for the fun.
I hope you had as full and lovely a summer as I did. Now, I have to get on that roller coaster again! The next story that came knocking is a doozy. Hands in the air, get ready for the drop… go!
Hello, friends! I’m here with the FINAL Exciting Events blog post for the week – not last because I’m done with Exciting Things, but because my editor sent my Exciting Pass Pages and I have to triple-check them for Exciting/Heart-Attack Inducing Typos and Last Minute Changes. Eek!
But before I go off into the editing cave once again, here is an Exciting Event for any of you living near Boulder, Colorado! Please come out on Wednesday, August 6 at 6:30 p.m. for a reading/signing/goodie bag grabbing/prize winning event that will feature nests, family members and writer friends at the amazing Boulder Bookstore.
The staff at Boulder Bookstore have been incredibly supportive of my books, and I plan to return the favor by buying a squintillion books there. Come join me! I promise, if you do, you will be as happy as these pigs:
Okay, this is probably the last vacation picture I’ll post. I couldn’t resist. Baby pigs!!!
Okay, I lied. I didn’t blog every day last week. I took the weekend off.
I will make it up to you with this picture of my newest baby ARCs!!!
Oh, happy day! I am so excited to send this one out in the world. Oh, and terrified. Also incredibly terrified.
The blurbs on the ARC cover from Francisco X. Stork, Laurel Snyder, and Natalie Lloyd make me go all smooshy inside. They are the loveliest.
And now I will also share some lovely words the International Reading Association’s Reading Today Online has to say about Nightingale’s Nest.
I particularly liked the words “brilliant” and “Loftin’s masterful craft.”
Stay tuned tomorrow for more cute vacation pictures… and another Exciting Event!
Obviously, I have a ton going on these days. And a lot of it is out of town fun! One of my favorite things to do is to work with kids in small-group writing workshops, and I am super excited to have the chance to do that in Austin in July, and…
in Santa Fe, New Mexico in August!
If you have a kid (or act like one, or even just want to come to a cool, short writing workshop), please show up at 2 pm at Beehive Books in Santa Fe on Sunday, August 3rd. I will be there with all sorts of goodies and a fun fairy tale-centric writing workshop. Also, I will read from Nightingale’s Nest, sign books, and answer all your questions.
I promise, it will be wonderful as this miniature Scottish waterfall.
Is this not incredibly wonderful? YES IT IS.
Oh my goodness.
This one is for anyone who lives near Albuquerque, New Mexico, or who knows anyone living near there. Or who feels like driving/flying/hang gliding there for an awesome event.
On Saturday, August 2, at 10:30 am, I will have the GREAT pleasure of talking about Nightingale’s Nest alongside (the utterly charming and tremendously talented) Kimberley Griffiths Little – who will be launching HER next middle grade book, The Time of the Fireflies. This will be a launch party for the ages. Goodie bags, refreshments, book signing, and PRIZES! (And possibly a creepy, haunted doll or two… Yes, sweet, lovely Kimberley wrote a wonderful book that happens to include one of my greatest fears.)
I cannot express how much I love this woman’s books! Magic, creepy dolls, friends, and family… they’re exquisite.
I think this calls for a double dose of cuteness. How about this:
A puffin AND a baby bunny. Try not to be overwhelmed by the cuteness. I know, I know. Not possible.
So, tell your Albuquerque friends! I promise Kimberley and I will be puffin-and-baby-bunny awesome.
I’m back from my super exciting vacation, and I’ll be checking in EVERY SINGLE DAY this week to tell you about some cool upcoming events where you meet a REAL LIVE AUTHOR (me) and learn valuable skills! Eat valuable cookies! And take home valuable bookmarks!
And I will also show you my amazing vacation photos. Like this one:
Yes, dear readers, I vacationed with puffins, the world’s cutest birds.
After you finish drowning in the cuteness that is puffin, check out the Westbank Library’s upcoming summer writing workshop! If you live in the Austin area and have a kid who wants to write, bring ‘em to the library on July 29th at 4:30 p.m. for this:
No fairy tale is safe from an author in search of material! In this hour-long workshop, students will pick apart favorite fairy tales and discover how to twist a classic story into a new work of art. Students will leave with an outline and opening (or more) of their own story, and a head full of ideas for how to “steal from Goldilocks” and get away with it.
I promise it will be FUN and FUNNY and the stories will be as majestic as a puffin.
Well, not quite. But very, very majestic.
I’ve missed posting here for a while, so please forgive all the catching up I’ll have to do today! At first, I was absent for good/great reasons…
A trip to Paris with my niece!
A long-awaited trip for the two of us. We left after we ate the last croissants in the city. Paris is delicious.
Author posters are so fun! This one was at Rooster Springs Elementary.
You know what never gets old? Seeing kid-made art of my covers.
A writing workshop at the Wimberley Village Library is the perfect way to end the school year.
End of School stuff for my kids!
Funniest end of the year presentation ever: my kid acted out the Black Knight skit from Monty Python’s Spamalot. (He was King Arthur.)
Amazing book launch parties for my friends!
I love Joy Preble and her books so much! Check out her latest, The A-Word, from Soho Press.
Bethany Hegedus’s amazing picture book launch party featured an equally amazing cake by cakellustrator Akiko White!
And even an Indies First! Read-Aloud Storytime day in Houston!
With Kathy Duval, Varsha Bajaj, me and Crystal Allen. So much fun!
I had plans to do an amazing, thought-provoking recap post (or series of posts!) about all of that stuff. Then a giant windstorm whipped through my neighborhood (like a tornado, with wind speeds up to 120+ according to a neighbor with a wind gauge) and did very bad things to my house (trees falling on our AC units, leaks forming in the house, goat shed picked up and removed from the yard!!!) and injured one of our sweet goats. (She is okay! Just a bunch of stitches and now a lot of TLC.)
So I’m writing this in a house with no AC (not a big deal unless you live where I do, where temps in the summer reach “Hades” by noon), waiting for workpeople to come and make the house liveable again.
Consequently, I may not be able to check in here as much over the summer.
But there are big things on the way! In August, I will have a brand new author website! It’s going to be soooo pretty.
And I’m at all sorts of events this summer, including out of state bookstore visits! Here’s a quick list of places that are confirmed. Come see me there! And bring me a popsicle? It’s hot.
Writer’s League of Texas Thursday panel on pitches, June 19, 7 p.m. at Bookpeople
Westbank Library in Beecave, Writing workshop for young writers, July 29, 4:30 pm
And guess what? I’m doing a mini BOOK TOUR in New Mexico and Colorado!
August 2, Bookworks in Albuquerque, 10:30 a.m. with the stunning author Kimberley Griffiths Little!
August 3, Beehive Books in Santa Fe, N.M., time TBA
August 6, Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, CO, 6:30 p.m.
More dates and venues to come! Stay safe, and write on.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I just had one of the most amazing school author visits in the history of school, authors, or visits.
I was invited last year to come to Galindo Elementary in Austin, by the amazing uber-librarian, Diane Collier. They had something special planned for their spring author visit, she explained.
Every fourth and fifth grader in the school was going to get a free copy of the paperback of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, courtesy of donations from their PTA and the South Austin Rotary club.
Look, shiny new paperbacks!
I went in one day early to sign the books. Almost 200 of them. It took an hour and a half. I didn’t care, and my hand wasn’t sore. It was happy.
Happiness is signing books for hours. Yes it is!
When I got to the school the next morning, they had reserved my parking space.
The best part? This was the PRINCIPAL’S parking spot! I felt ridiculously fancy.
And when I walked into the library, I was overwhelmed. Two of the fifth grade English classes had read my book in advance, and done all sorts of art displays with them – on character, theme, comparisons to the original fairy tale and a movie version, and more.
There’s no witches? Darn.
I love this.
Also, Ms. Morrigan looks kind of like me in a bad mood.
This poster almost makes me love themes!
How cool is this?
Can you tell I have a librarian crush on this woman? :)
The librarian had decorated with candy and cards… and a present for me.
Note to self: write all future books about food.
Not that I needed a present. But, A PRESENT!!!
And then the kids arrived, dressed like their favorite characters from the book, and carrying pretend and real candy.
I wish I could show you pictures of the cute kids! But privacy, etc. Use your imaginations. :)
It was utterly amazing.
I wish every school could have a librarian, a PTA, a community like Galindo’s! Visiting there was a dream come true for me.
A dream full of books and wonderful librarians.
And the amazingness doesn’t stop there. Because, as you can see in this picture Diane sent me that she took the day after the event, the school got very quiet… because kids were reading, reading, reading.
A dream come true.
Thank you, Galindo Elementary, for letting me meet your dreamers!
Guess what? Interview time is here! I had the pleasure of answering questions for a spot on the Operation Awesome blog, and here’s the link. Come on, you know you want to know my deep, dark secrets. Well, possibly not that dark. But important. Check it out!