Middle Grade Authors Love Teachers!

 

Do Middle Grade authors really love teachers?

Of COURSE they do! Heck, I permanently thanked at least ten of them in my last book, Nightingale’s Nest, by hiding their lovely names in it like eggs in a nest.  But it’s not enough. So, I’m delighted to be a part of the Big, Huge Book Giveaway that the uber-lovely Lynda Mullaly Hunt came up with for Valentine’s Day!

Teachers, I am participating in a signed book giveaway with a whole bunch of my middle-grade author friends who have recent, brand-new, or about-to-be-published books. Check out these sixteen–count ‘em, sixteen–books:

Pretty cool line-up, eh? If you’re a teacher, librarian, or reading specialist (basically any type of educator), and you want to be entered to win signed copies of all these books, all you have to do is one of two things:

EITHER
1. Click here to leave a comment on Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s blog,
OR
2. Tweet about the giveaway and use the hashtag #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers

Your name will be entered into the virtual hat, and we’ll draw the winner at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, February 18th. If you win, you’ll receive signed copies of all these books–not all at once, because some of them don’t publish until March or April, but won’t it be fun to get multiple packages in your mailbox?
Good luck, and I LOVE YOU!

(Oh, and if you love YA, too? Check out the #YAAuthorsLoveTeachers giveaway here or here! Same rules, same time frame, same oodles of love.)

 

Stillwater Magic: School Visit Paradise

Wow! I gotta tell you, Oklahoma is amazing. I didn’t know what to expect after that phenomenal last trip to Norman (two weeks of awesome), but it shouldn’t have surprised me at all that the schools in Stillwater would be every bit as wonderful. It’s just weird, to have that many superhero librarians and uber-creative kids all in one place, you know? Something in the water, y’all.

I won’t bore you with any more yammering about how amazing it was… I’ll just show you pics so YOU can see. It. Was. Awesome.

 

It's alwasy a good sign when the first thing you see inside the school is a bulletin board with love notes from the kids! (Not shown: the sign OUTSIDE as well!) Thanks, Susie!

It’s always a good sign when the first thing you see inside the school is a bulletin board with love notes from the kids! (Not shown: the sign OUTSIDE as well!) Thanks, Susie!

Another goodsign? When the hallways are covered with MORE welcome signs! ALL the hallways. Whoa.

Another good sign? When the hallways are covered with MORE welcome signs! ALL the hallways. Whoa.

And when you get to the library? CANDY AND FANCINESS!

And when you get to the library? CANDY AND FANCINESS!

CANDY ALL FOR ME!!

CANDY ALL FOR ME!!

Um, I think they gave me the candy because they THOUGHT I ate something else...

Um, I think they gave me the candy because they THOUGHT I ate something else…

... but as you can see, there wasn't any of my favorite food left...

… but as you can see, there wasn’t any of my favorite food left…

Speaking of favorite foods, did oyu know if you joke to an Oklahoma librarin that you need 2 lbs of peanut M&Ms to be able to go on... they appear???

Speaking of favorite foods, did you know if you joke to an Oklahoma librarian that you need 2 lbs of peanut M&Ms to be able to go on… they appear???

That is, IF the librarian is Rock Star Tammy Matlock.

That is, IF the librarian is Rock Star Tammy Matlock.

Her students made MORE love notes!

Her students made MORE love notes!

The amazing Nikole Kelty made me AND all her students feel welcome by feeding us and decorating the library for a party!

The amazing Nikole Kelty made me AND all her students feel welcome by feeding us and decorating the library for a party!

Cara Smith did it all at her library! Decorations, student art, a bubbling kettle full of what might have been students...

Cara Smith did it all at her library! Decorations, student art, a bubbling kettle full of what might have been students…

... But Shenista Furman's student art may take the cake. It covered the whole gym!!

… But Shenista Furman’s student art may take the cake. It covered the whole gym!!

Here's a close-up of Lorelei!

Here’s a close-up of Lorelei!

We didn't stop the party there! After hours dinners with all the super stars...

We didn’t stop the party there! After hours dinners with all the super stars…

And presents for me! I got so spoiled.

And presents for me! I got so spoiled.

Silliness at Eskimo Joe's with Susie Masters...

Silliness at Eskimo Joe’s with Susie Masters…

And all the rest! Dinner that night was thanks to Kenneth Brown, who provided all the books - including the ones they're shipping down to Texas next week, since we ran out!

And all the rest! Dinner that night was thanks to Kenneth Brown, who provided all the books – including the ones they’re shipping down to Texas next week, since we ran out!

 

So, that’s the fun I had last week! I’m teaching a funny and useful critique group/partners workshop for the Writer’s League of Texas this Saturday (Yes, you can still sign up!), and then… book launch excitingness begins for Wish Girl!

Oh, if you want to laugh at me? Check out this link. Yes, apparently I am a unicorn who eats children. LOL

 

 

 

Nightingale’s Nest is in Paperback + School Visit Fun

Wow! I have to admit, I’ve been so busy with school visits, Skype visits, guest blog posts, family stuff, and (oh, yes!) finishing my latest novel (super creepy one) that I almost forgot to say happy book birthday to me!

That’s right, today is the very first day you can get Nightingale’s Nest as a paperback! It’s the same book, of course (with that one pesky typo fixed), but it has the first chapters of Wish Girl in the back, and they rearranged the blurbs on the front. This time, it’s more friends saying super nice things about me, which always makes me blush and stammer a bit. These two are IRL friends, and also authors I admire a ridiculous amount, Katherine Catmull and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Nightingales_Nest_high_res

I celebrated the Big Day by doing a school visit at Doss Elementary, which was special for many reasons! First off, the super librarian staff there, Bonnie and Virginia and their volunteers, made me feel incredibly welcomed. They made a sign! And brought me fancy salads, and mints, and water… and tons of kids who were excited to hear about my books, and learn how to write one themselves.

 

A sign! A sign! It was meant to be.

A sign! A sign! It was meant to be.

All the best librarians have banana phones.

All the best librarians have banana phones.

I know it looks like I'm about to eat the kids in this picture. I promise... I'm only thinking about eating the.

I know it looks like I’m about to eat the kids in this picture. I promise… I’m only thinking about eating the.

And then Paige Britt, author of the forthcoming The Track of Lost Time, came to watch and take pictures and cheer me on! Thanks, Paige! I can’t wait for your book.

The requisite selfie taken with Paige Britt, Debut Author Extraordinaire!

The requisite selfie taken with Paige Britt, Debut Author Extraordinaire!

Rejected Fan Mail, or What To Do if I Don’t Answer Your Email

Hello!! I have been having the  MOST FUN January ever. Also the busiest one!

You see, I went to Norman, Oklahoma, and spent two weeks visiting with the coolest readers and aspiring young writers, and meeting and chatting with the loveliest librarians. When I got home, I knew I had to buckle down to finish my next book… and then the most glorious deluge of emails began. From kids!!

If you think this is going to be one of those “Why I can’t answer your email” posts? Wrong. I am not yet Ms. Fancypants, with no hours free, and if you email me, I WILL email you back! It just might take me a while. Like a week.

This is one of those, “What if if I never get that email response” posts. You see, one of the cool things about being a writer for young people is that I get to interact with kids. But one of the bad things* about kid email accounts (especially the school ones) is that those accounts are not allowed to receive email replies from outside sources! Like me.

Possibly your principals have read my debut novel, and decided I am not a Good Influence on Children. Bwa ha ha! They may be right. 🙂

So, a better way to contact me? Well, Twitter for one! Or, if your question is the type you think other readers would love to see… check out my Ask the Author Questions page on Goodreads!

Or, you know, use your Mom’s email account, with her permission of course, if your note is personal. Who knows? She might be so thrilled to see you emailing an author, she’ll take you to the bookstore and buy you a whole ton of books…

So, long story short? I WILL get back to you, but you may have to try a few different ways to reach me!

Now, I’m off to the AWESOME kids at Doss Elementary in Austin this week, then getting ready to do a super fun event at Lanier High School on Saturday, and then I’m off to Stillwater, Oklahoma on Monday for a week of MORE FUN!

Time to take my vitamins. **

*Okay, BTW, that isn’t really a “bad thing” – I’m SO glad the school accounts protect kids from receiving creepy emails from strangers. So I totally understand this. And am cool with it. But I still want you to know, I am not ignoring you!

** code word for chocolate

 

Happy New Year, and Happy Writing :)

Happy Almost New Year!

It’s been a terribly exciting year for me… full of terrible things (let’s not talk about dental work and editors who leave) and wonderful things, too. The book of my heart, Nightingale’s Nest, flew out into the world, and my next, Wish Girl, is poised for its own launch. (On February 28th at Bookpeople in Austin, Texas, if you’re interested!) Some very wonderful people have been saying some super lovely things about Wish Girl (and NOT saying them, too. How’s THIS for a review? haha).

I traveled to Europe three times in 2014, and spoke at more conferences and schools than I can remember. (Possibly because I am old and forget stuff.) And I leave in a few days to start a tour of one of the friendliest states I’ve ever been to — Oklahoma!

I think 2015 is going to be amazing. For one thing, I’ve fallen back in love with writing scary stories (thanks to a super creepy story I wrote for the upcoming Guys Read: Terrifying Tales anthology). I’m never happier than when I’m creating new worlds, new characters, new terrors…

Anyway, I’m about to make up my list of writing resolutions, and these fun new ideas have me feeling ambitious. I think I’m aiming to finish one book and draft two more in 2015. What about you? Anyone out there going to shoot for the moon?

I hope so!

Oh, and if you’re interested in reading more about Wish Girl, or me, or SCBWI (my favorite writing group), please check out this interview!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing is Terrifying and Takes a Lot of Time

I have learned recently that, contrary to what I previously believed, my mom is NOT the only reader of my blog. So, hello, other readers! I’m sorry. I’ve been a bit… absent. Because writing is hard, and terrifying, and takes a lot of time.

I’ve been writing longer things, like novels. One in particular (another scary one!) is thisclose to being first-draft-done and I am itching to get back to it… but I got one of the loveliest emails that I had to share.

You know, writing is pretty much like riding a roller coaster you’ve been warned may have lost more than a few safety rails and bits of track but go ahead anyway because hey! You only live once. There are no guarantees about the future of your work, your career, or your grocery budget. And when you have a book coming out in two months, you enter what a lot of writers like to call the “Insanity Zone” where you fret and worry and fritter away every waking hour wondering what people are going to THINK about your next novel.

Will they hate it? (Should they hate it? It was awful wasn’t it? How could your editor let you put it out there like that? How could your critique partners lie to you like that? It was horrible wasn’t it- it’s the worst pile of poo ever published, etc., etc.) Can you tell I have a book coming out in two months?

You get the idea. So when an email comes in like this one, from Tess Alfonsin’s class at St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas, it feels like ice cream on the fevered writer soul. Here are my very first two reviews of Wish Girl from real live readers!!!

“Nikki Loftin’s Wish Girl is a beautiful book because when you read Wish Girl it comes to life. My favorite line in the book was when Annie said ” What is death, Peter? It’s when you stop being you, right? When that something, that spark or whatever, goes out.” It is my favorite line because it is true and I will always, always, remember it. I LOVED Annie! She’s sweet and beautiful on the inside. I like how she’s not like Gayle because Gayle was kind, sweet, and she cared about everything. Annie on the other hand was sweet and all but she also had a little “kick” to her. I also like the character Doug and Jake because you have to have a bad guy and I love how Nikki Loftin made the bay guys young. It was a sweet, loving, amazing journey of two kids all wrapped up into a book. When I read Wish Girl it changed my life because everything could really happen except the magic valley (I wish!). Whatever Nikki Loftin is doing to put all this magic into her books she should keep doing it because I LOVE IT!”

“I thought Wish Girl was a REALLY good book! The ending was a bit sad, sort of like Nightengale’s Nest, but a bit more happier. It was really sad that Annie had cancer, and that she got either hit with a bolder, or got scraped by the mountain lion. It was a bit unusual that that the valley was like its own person, and that Mrs. Empson knew about it. I thought it was strange that Annie didn’t want any doctors. Also it was weird that Annie and Peter ran away, and that Peter’s name meant stone or rock.”

And THAT, dear friends, is what is keeping me going… I hope you have words equally lovely in your lives someday. Thank you, St. Mary’s readers! Wish Girl will be here on February 24, 2015. I hope you all love it.

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Wish Girl in Spanish!

When I was a little girl, my grandparents took me to Mexico with them many times in the summers. My grandfather studied art at the Instituto de San Miguel, and my grandma … well, I have no idea what she did. She mostly told me to go play outside. Some of my earliest memories are of floating leaf boats down the rain gutters of San Miguel… and sitting in Mexican cafes with Grandma drinking Coca-Cola and cerveza. (Well, she drank the beer, not me.)

I remember speaking Spanish when I was little, and I learned more when I became a teacher in New Braunfels in my early twenties – although the kids would giggle because I spoke it with a distinct French accent. I love languages, and I love speaking and reading  in as many as I can.

And so it is with great pleasure that I can report that finally… one of my books will be translated into Spanish! Ediciones Urano has purchased world Spanish rights to Wish Girl, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Now, I’ll just load up that Duolingo app again, and get some practice in before the copies land on my doorstep. I mean, I DO want to be able to read my own book, right?

Note: You may have noticed my new website! I’m still fixing up parts of it, and I’ll be hosting a book giveaway when it’s all tweaked. So… shhh. It’s not ready yet. 🙂

 

 

Oklahoma Loveliness, and Texas Festival Fun!

I just got back from an amazing week in Oklahoma! I signed hundreds of books, met hundreds of librarians and thousands of readers, and had as much fun as an author can have, thanks to Permabound Books, Best of Books bookstore in Edmond, and my lovely publisher Penguin/RH!

My debut novel is on the Sequoyah list, which is thrilling for me. If you’re curious about that book, here’s a snippet of me reading from it to the kids of Oklahoma!

The trip was wonderful. I took almost NO pictures, as I was far too busy to even THINK about such things, but here are a few the lovely Alicia from Permabound sent me!

 

At the conference hotel with Alicia Trader, Kristin Levine, and Joan Bauer

At the conference hotel with Alicia Trader, Kristin Levine, and Joan Bauer

photo 3

 

South Lake Elementary made me feel VERY welcome!

South Lake Elementary made me feel VERY welcome! AND I got a new shirt!

Meeting Kristin and Joan was a highlight of the YEAR.

Meeting Kristin and Joan was a highlight of the YEAR.

... and talking to thousands of Oklahoma school kids about my books? I may have left the state with almost no voice, but I had a full heart!

… and talking to thousands of Oklahoma school kids about my books? I may have left the state with almost no voice, but I had a full heart!

 

I miss Oklahoma already. But I think I’m going back in January, so I won’t have to miss those wonderful folks for long!

And now I’m ready for some more local, fun book festivals! This Saturday, October 18, you can find me at the Llano County Book Fest, doing a workshop for all ages on re-writing a fairy tale…

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…and then, on Saturday, October 25, I’ll be on a panel at the Texas Book Festival with the utterly lovely Natalie Lloyd and Annie Barrows, called Do You Believe in Magic?, at 1:15. I hope to see some of you there!

Whew! I’ll stop there, even though I have a BUNCH of other things to post. Time to go make the word sausage, as we say – I’ve got a new book to work on!

 

Rejecting Rejection and… Wish Girl in China!

I am very happy to have a guest blog post up today at the Writing Barn’s blog, in the Rejecting Rejection series. Go hop on over there and check it out if you have a few minutes! And if you’ve ever, you know, felt utterly rejected as a writer.

And on the NOT feeling rejected side of things… you know how I hinted at more good news? It’s here!! I am delighted to announce that WISH GIRL will be published by Guangxi Normal University Press Group in Simplified Chinese in Mainland China sometime in the next eighteen months!

I am feeling very fancy indeed, and will celebrate with a duck dinner as soon as I get back from Oklahoma! Now, off to the airport…

Oklahoma? More Than OK!

I’m a native Texan, but my mom and grandma were both born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So I think it’s pretty cool that my first out-of-state conference* next week will be to the Oklahoma Technology Association’s Encyclo-Media conference. I guess I’m getting back to my roots?

And it’s more than cool that I get to share panels with the crazy-talented Joan Bauer and Kristin Levine. Once again, I will be in “do not swallow my tongue when talking to these fancy people” mode.

The best part of the trip may be the school visits they have lined up for me, though. I don’t know what it is, I just feel 100% at home when I’m talking to kids – especially about books, fairy tales, and how to follow your dreams. And since one of my books is on the 2015 Sequoyah List, there’s the chance that a bunch of these kids will have read it (Sinister Sweetness, that is), and will have interesting questions to ask about it! And then possibly I will get to talk about cannibalism. (EDITED — NOTE: I AM NOT ACTUALLY GOING TO TALK ABOUT CANNIBALISM. THAT WAS A JOKE.**)

Seriously, does a job get any more fun?

So, I’m off to Oklahoma on Monday for a week of fun! And I hope when I get back, I will be able to share some of the incredible secret news that’s been piling up over here.

So much exciting and secret news. Whee!

Oh, and before I forget… here’s a quick photo from the Region 20 Library conference in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago. I had the great privilege to meet and hang out with Ruta Sepetys, YA author and storyteller extraordinaire, since we were both keynote speakers. She’s wonderful! If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, do it! And read her books, of course. Incredible.

 

Ruta Sepetys, one of the loveliest authors I've met! I could spend days listening to her tell amazing true stories...

Ruta Sepetys, one of the loveliest authors I’ve met! I could spend days listening to her tell amazing true stories…

 

*Okay, I’ve been out-of-state on conferences before, but never as a speaker!

** Edited to address concerns raised by readers who actually thought I was going to do this. FOR REAL.