Goodbye, 2017!

Oh, friends, this year has been… memorable, to say the very least. For me it’s been full of tragic lows (my father died) and incredible highs (I wrote another “book of my heart” and signed with my lovely new agent, Ginger Knowlton). It’s been a year of writing fearlessly and reading with abandon. I’ve read some of my favorite books ever in 2017–I hope you read a few of the lists or listened to the podcasts!

Honestly, when I watch the news I know I’m ready to say a final goodbye to 2017. Except…

 

He would kill me if he knew I posted this. But he never reads my blog. Isn’t this awesome??? My favorite picture of him.

my eldest is graduating from high school and going far away to college next fall, so I’m sort of clinging to every last day, all those moments with him that won’t come again.

My big boy now. <3

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, and a peace-filled and joy-filled new year. May you find yourself lifted up on the wings of glorious stories- whether they’re ones you are writing or reading – again and again as the days pass.

May you feel joy, and show love, and stop to listen to the wind in the grass and the dawn chorus and the peaceful sigh of a sleeping loved one.

Fill your days with beauty, and music, and magic, and love. I’ll try to do the same!

 

 

Recent Author Visits: What I’ve Learned

I’ve been doing a ton of author visits in the last few weeks. From doing a motivational talk for a Genius Hour project at Hobby Middle School (plus a silly, fun writing workshop)…

Thanks so much to librarian Terri Williams for the invitation and the wonderful gifts! The chocolate didn’t survive the trip home.

 

… to a Halloween Day presentation that scared the pants off the older kids at Boone Elementary…

… to speaking with an incredible group of young women leaders at the Ann Richards School …

WHO FED ME ICE CREAM!!! (This needs to become a thing.)

… to presenting for the Austin Public Library to kick off NaNoWriMo (Do NOT ask me how my NaNo word count is coming. Just don’t), quickly followed by the Texas Book Festival where I moderated a super fun panel for mega star authors Jennifer Ziegler, Victoria Jamieson, and Karina Yan Glaser…

I’ve been busy and happy and running from one thing to the next. It’s been author bliss, except for how little time it leaves for the Real Job (writing novels).

This is what my current WIP looks like… like my office exploded into paper and scribbled notes. Must Finish Revision so I can vacuum!

I learn something new every time I do an author visit, no matter what age the students, or what talk I give. This week, I had a question from a student about how long I’ve worked on a single novel. I had a sudden realization that I’ve been working on some of my novels my whole life! From the time I was in elementary school staring out a window and thinking, to the short stories I cranked out at UT Austin during my dark graduate school years, to now. The manuscript I’ve just finished (okay, revision is almost done! See pics above) is a story that’s been fighting to find its form, to be told, for over thirty years.

That’s a long time.

And when I spoke that answer out loud, I realized I have other stories that similarly have been hanging on in my mind and on my laptop. I “finished” a manuscript last year that was once a picture book, and then a novel. I thought it was ready to go… and now I know that it was too heavy/unwieldy for middle grade, too full of the things that YA novels do best. And so, you know what? I’m going to try YA.

This makes me tremble with fear and exhaustion… but you know what they say: NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER.

Double rainbow power to revise!

I think that’s the thing I get most from author visits: the exposure to young writers and readers who spark a fearless drive in me through their own energy and spark.

Well, that and laughter and ice cream.

Happy Writing, friends! And if YOU want to come to a writing workshop with me soon, try this one:

NaNoWriMo Workshop: Character Development

Wednesday, November 15 / 6:00-7:30 pm
New Central Library

Interesting, complex characters form the core of any great novel, but creating “fleshed out” imaginary people is no easy task. Join author Nikki Loftin for a discussion of character, including tips on better understanding the fictional people who populate your story.

All workshops are free and open to the public. No reservations needed. 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Youth Writing Workshops in Austin

Happy October, friends! I hope you’re doing what I’m doing these days! That is, writing spooky stories, picking your Halloween costumes, planning where to hide the Snickers bars from your own dear trick-or-treater children, and gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month!

Image result for nanowrimo

Actually, I’m not planning to write a novel in November… well, maybe I am. But it’s not a classic novel, so I can’t get to 50,000 words like the official NaNo writers do to “win.” (If I did that, I would have two of the sort of books I’m writing at the moment!)

I am celebrating the Writer’s Month of November with the Austin Public Library by presenting a VERY COOL panel on novel writing for all ages, and teaching a free youth writing workshop! Here’s a link to sign up with details, but I’ll cut and paste the descriptions of all the November workshops below.

Jennifer Ziegler is also teaching… I may have to dress WAY too young and try to sneak into her workshop as a teen. I’m sure no one will notice the old lady taking notes furiously in the back…

Join me!

NaNoWriMo Author Panel

Wednesday, November 1 / 6:00 – 7:30 pm
New Central Library 

Featuring authors Nikki Loftin, Jennifer Ziegler, Charlotte Gullick, and Taya Kitaysky. Moderated by Writers’ League of Texas Executive Director Becka Oliver, this panel of writers will discuss the project of writing a novel—where to begin, how to plan, creating good habits, managing rough patches, as well as issues of craft. Nikki Loftin and Jennifer Ziegler typically write for young adult readers, and Charlotte Gullick and Taya Kitaysky write for adult audiences. This panel is a good fit for writers of all ages working on projects for various audiences.


NaNoWriMo Workshop: Plot Development

Wednesday, November 8 / 6:00-7:30 pm
New Central Library

How can a writer best manage different narrative threads in a novel project? To what extent must you plan, and how much of your plotting can be spontaneous? Join author Jennifer Ziegler for an exploration of how to string a compelling plot together and how how to keep it on track.


NaNoWriMo Workshop: Character Development

Wednesday, November 15 / 6:00-7:30 pm
New Central Library

Interesting, complex characters form the core of any great novel, but creating “fleshed out” imaginary people is no easy task. Join author Nikki Loftin for a discussion of character, including tips on better understanding the fictional people who populate your story.

All workshops are free and open to the public. No reservations needed. 

 

Bee Cave Book Haul Podcast Time!

Oh frabjous day!

Friends, if you are the sort of reader/writer/librarian/humanoid who listens to podcasts… or likes book reviews of fun/funny/wonderful middle grade books… or wants to laugh as I use ALL THE  EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! while talking about great books?* Then you should scurry over right now to listen to me GUSH and GIGGLE and GO ON AND ON about a half dozen or so of my favorite middle grade reads this year.

And who wrote this treasure trove of books?

These Magically Talented Authors:

Stephanie Burgis, Tracey Baptiste, John David Anderson, Heidi Schulz, K. A. Holt, and Tara Dairman.

Happy Book Day, Y’all! You’re going to have more than one happy day if you read these books, I promise!

 

*(No, seriously. I am like the late Crocodile Hunter on this podcast, minus the charming Australian accent. Although… a couple of times, I think I channeled him directly. Crikey!)

Back in the Saddle!

This has been an incredible fall for my writer friends who have new books out. This week, I celebrated with my good friend Tara Dairman, as she welcomed The Great Hibernation into the world!

I adored this book–it is full of humor, science, and the sort of parent-free hijinks that will delight young readers. I’d place it firmly in the hands of any second, third, fourth, or fifth grader, and then expect them to stay up late finishing it!

 

As for what I’ve been up to (besides celebrating the book launches of my wonderful friends!)…

I had the great fortune to be a guest author and writing instructor for the Austin Public Library’s Badgerdog writing camps this summer. Meeting those young writers gave me all sorts of energy for my own work! And I had a tricky new book I wanted to finish… so I snuck away to Pennsylvania for a few days.

I sat in my own private cabin at the Highlights Foundation

on an “Unworkshop.”

This is pure, free writing time. I did meet some other writer friends up there, so we talked at meals (oh, the meals! BEST RETREAT FOOD EVER) and then scurried away to write until bedtime.

It was bliss, if you’re in need of alone time, and quiet space to write. And maybe look at the flowers!

I finished a draft of my manuscript. I love it so. It’s about a character who’s been popping into my head since I was very young. In fact, I wrote about him in my Master’s thesis. He is a pony named Glue.

I can’t wait for you to meet him.

Be well, write like the wind, and enjoy the process if you can! (And if you can’t? Deep breaths, long walks, turn the page and write something wildly different. You may just find yourself feeling that joy again. It worked for me.)

 

KidLitCares Auction is Live Now!

Hey, friends! What are you doing here at my blog, instead of spending your free hours scrolling through the TWO HUNDRED (or so) amazing items on Kate Messner’s KidLitCares auction, for Hurricane Harvey Flood Relief?

I’m been bidding on items, but I hope some of you will check out the one I’ve donated: SEVEN signed books, as well as a free 30 minute Skype visit.

And just between us, if you’re an Austin-area book club, library, or school? I’ll do that baby IN PERSON for you.

Thanks for clicking on this link here right now. And happy shopping!

Summer’s Close: Events, Reading, and a Confession

Wow! I can’t believe the summer is almost over. I’ve been traveling, reading, writing, and teaching. Oh, yeah! Kids: there’s one last chance to take a (free!) writing workshop from me this summer, on August 9, 2017 from 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM at Laura’s Library in Southwest Austin. We’ll be re-writing fairy tales – please join us!  

Next on New Things for Nikki: I’ve been invited to participate in a podcast! I’ll post links when it’s done (unless it’s horribly embarrassing, which is 100% possible). My job has been to find the BEST Middle Grade new-ish novels I can find, and gush about them for 7-10 minutes.

Oh, friends. I have found some of the most amazing books. FUN books.

Here are a few covers from some of my faves (I’m still reading for one more!)… I’ll share more about them all next month, when I post the gushing. (But you should probably buy these now for your collections. I will vouch for them all.)

And THIS ONE arrived today from the publisher!!! It’s not out yet, but will be soon. I love Tara’s other books, so I have a feeling I’ll adore this one, too.

And, last but not least, a small confession. A few years ago, when asked what the hardest part of writing was for me, I would immediately reply “revising.” Last week, when a kid at a writing workshop asked me that, I said (without even thinking about it) “believing in myself.”

If you’ve been wondering where my next book is… well, that’s the problem. I lost faith in myself, in whether or not what I was doing mattered, was important enough, or would be good enough again to find a wider audience. I’m working to find that confidence that I had in spades only a few years ago again… and in the meantime, I’m writing some wild, strange, amazing things.

For me.

It’s pretty wonderful, to be honest. Writing what I want, exploring different points of view, and forms, and genres. When you do see me again on those bookshelves?

It may be with something completely different. 🙂

 

 

Happy Book Birthday to Witchtown!

I interrupt my summer writing and blog-ignoring to say a huge, happy book birthday to my friend Cory Putman Oakes on the launch day of her utterly amazing, incredibly fun/creepy/fast-paced/mysterious YA WITCHTOWN!

I snagged an early reader copy of this at the TxLA conference this spring, and read it on the plane to Florida a few weeks later. If I had known how much I was going to love it, I would have read it the INSTANT I picked it up. If you love YA, witchy books, a little romance, and a lot of mystery, you will love this book.

(And if you don’t love YA and witches – what’s wrong with you? Why not check out Cory’s other amazing books for younger readers! The Dinosaur Boy series is superb!)

I love ya, Cory!

 

 

Sweet Summer of Middle Grade: What I’m Reading

Happy June! I’ve been writing as fast as I can, and reading whenever I have a moment. I had the very good luck to read a new middle grade book by Rebecca Behrens, The Last Grand Adventure, coming out March 2018 (so I probably shouldn’t even mention it! But it was so good!). In fact, I loved it so much, I blurbed it. If you know readers who like historical fiction mixed with adventure and heart, this one’s for them – and you.

The Last Grand Adventure

Here’s the jacket copy!

Twelve-year-old Bea finds herself on a unique road-trip with her grandmother, as they search for her grandmother’s long-lost sister—the legendary Amelia Earhart—in this charming novel from the author of When Audrey Met Alice and Summer of Lost and Found.

It’s the Summer of ’67—and twelve-year-old Bea’s world has been shaken up. Her mother is off in San Francisco, while her father has remarried in Los Angeles, adding a stepmom and younger stepsister to the mix. Bea, unsure of the all the change happening around her, feels stuck.

So when her grandmother, Pidge, moves to a retirement community, Bea agrees to visit and help her adjust. But it turns out her grandmother isn’t interested in “settling in”—what Pidge really wants is to hop a train to Atchison, Kansas, where she believes she’ll be reunited with her long-missing older sister: the legendary Amelia Earhart. And she wants Bea to be her sidekick on this secret trip.

At first, Bea thinks her grandmother’s plan sounds a little crazy. But Pidge does have thirty years of mysterious letters, written in “Meelie’s” unmistakable voice, all promising to reunite. This journey might be just the adventure Bea needs . . .

Bea and Pidge set off on their quest to reunite with Amelia. But getting halfway across the country proves to be far more of an adventure than either bargained for. Their journey takes them from the desert to the heartland, in planes, trains, and automobiles. And their search just might lead to surprising truths about their family—and each other.

Peppered with details of the real Amelia Earhart’s fascinating life, The Last Grand Adventure is a poignant story about seeing the world, becoming brave, and discovering the meaning of home.

I hope you’re finding good things to read, too! Now I’m off to new Mexico to write like the desert wind…

Summer Writing Camps in Austin!

Hi, friends! This is that time of year I get lots of sweet texts and emails asking if I’m teaching any writing workshops in the summer. And this summer, the answer is yes! I’ll be doing one at the Westbank Library on August 9th at 4:30 pm. This one is a free workshop, and I’ll be teaching kids how to take an existing fairy tale and re-imagine it so thoroughly they can make it into a novel… or at least a very fun, new story. 🙂 Go sign up today!

This summer I am especially excited to be a guest author at the famous Badgerdog Summer Creative Writing Camps, put on by the Austin Public Library Friends.

I’ll be presenting in Session 3, and I know they’ll have other wonderful authors teaching the whole summer, so if your kid is a budding novelist/poet/playwright? You know what to do.

Now, I’m off for a week in New Mexico with three teenage boys who are VERY EXCITED to be going to high school next year. If you live anywhere near Santa Fe, I apologize in advance for the noise.

Happy reading, friends!

Save