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 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.
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. 🙂
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
South Lake Elementary made me feel VERY welcome! AND I got a new shirt!
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!
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…
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…
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…
*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.
Well, I’m not. But two of my books are! Publisher Bertrand Editora has bought sub-rights to print my books – in Portuguese! I’m not sure precisely when, but Wish Girl and Nightingale’s Nest are both going abroad. I hope they mind their manners… no, not really. I hope they dance at Carnaval in nothing but feathers and paint!
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.
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.
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!
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!