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!


TxLA 2017 Conference: Photos Galore!

Wow! I think I just now caught up on my email/sleep/healthy food backlog after the utterly stupendous TxLA conference in San Antonio last week. It was as fun as I had hoped, and I met so many librarians, authors, and readers – even young ones who somehow convinced librarians and/or relatives to check them out of school!

If you haven’t been to this conference, and you are a book lover, you should go.


Thanks to Penguin Random house for bringing me!

Selfie with YA Author Kara Thomas

Hanging with Akiko White and the CAKE at the Texas Sweethearts reception.

No TLA is complete without a selfie with Shelli Cornelison!

Book Lover Stacey Rattner came all the way from New York to smile and leap with Texas authors!

Eat, Drink (root beer), and Be Merry with young readers like Emma. She looked DELICIOUS!

I got to meet Mike Jung!

And see Jessica Lee Anderson’s new book… about BIG FOOT.

Leslea Newman’s newest PB, Sparkle Boy, is now in my collection…

Erin Entrada Kelly gave me side eye that made me giggle (but she signed my book, so we’re good)…

So many librarians! Cheryl Michulka of SPOT fame stood for a selfie…

… as did two of my fave Austin librarians, Celeste and Kate…

Celebrating new books with writer friends is always the highlight, though. Christina Soontornvat’s next Changelings book is coming this fall!!

I can’t wait to go back… although I can’t imagine better swag than what I got this year…



Why I was there! The Spirit of Texas Middle School list – a thousand thank yous to Texas librarians who selected my books!

Happy Spring, friends! I hope you have as many great books to read as I do… and as many good friends to share them with.


Earth, Water, Dance! A Festival of the Arts on 4/22

Hello, friends! I’m about to put together a handy list of all the places I’ll be this coming week at the HUGE Texas Library Association conference in San Antonio. But first, I’d like to shout out to all my local (San Marcos-area) friends! On Saturday, April 22, I’ll be reading my books, chatting with readers, and enjoying the glass-bottom boat rides with young readers and writers in San Marcos, Texas. I would love it if you would join me!

Here’s the poster, and I hope to see you there!

"Earth, Water, Dance!" poster



April Amazingness: San Antonio Book Festival pics and more!

Hi, friends!

I’ve been going through some difficult times in my life, including the death of my father, and I’m not posting as much because of that. But I had such an amazing time this week in Authorlandia that I had to post some pics.


First of all, thanks to librarian Cate Sweeney at the Bee Cave Public Library for hosting my talk on writing in the Texas Hill Country!

The students in this “class” were a little older than my normal elementary to middle-school aged kids. But we had every bit as much fun!

Then, it was off to San Antonio for the big Book Festival, with my amazing writing support/marketing group, the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels.

So many amazing readers were there! Cambridge and Wooldridge Elementaries were well represented…

Thanks to Carmen Oliver for this snap. We’re crazy for books!


and I met readers from far away as well!


A reader from Las Vegas! He read Nightingale’s Nest, and is moving on to Sinister Sweetness. 🙂


Running into Superstar Librarian Irene Kistler is always a treat!

More amazing readers, answering the question: Are your boys for boys or girls? YES.


Love my Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels friends, Carmen Oliver and Jessica Lee Anderson!

I even made the San Antonio paper! Thanks, SA Book Festival, for being so awesome! I’ll be back – and I’ll bring ALL MY WRITER FRIENDS.

It was wonderful.





San Antonio Book Festival with the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels

There’s not much more that I love than books, unless it’s hanging out with other people who love books, talking about books, and book shopping.

(No, I don’t have a problem. YOU have a problem.)

This Saturday, April 8, I’ll get to do all those things with a group of authors I love dearly – the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels – at the amazing San Antonio Book Festival.

We’ll be in Booth #10 from 9-5. Come and buy a book, or talk writing, or get the skinny on author visits! We’ll also be giving away signed copies of our own books, raffles running all day. Then catch one of the great panels or author readings going on all day. Pretty perfect Saturday, am I right? (I am.)

See you there? I hope so!


Love Letters to the Hill Country: Free Talk at Bee Cave Library

Happy Spring, friends!

It’s been spring for a while here in Central Texas. The bluebonnets have bloomed, the mountain laurels scented the air with grape Kool-Aid, and the new baby chicks at our house have moved out to their new coop.

Nice coop, huh? It’s built by a friend at the Urban Coop Company. Best coop ever. Those raccoons don’t stand a chance!

I love springtime, oak pollen notwithstanding. And I have a bunch of events coming up this spring. But today, I’d like to invite my Central Texas friends to a special one at the Bee Cave Library on April 5, from 12-1pm. Want more details? Check out today’s Austin news!

If you’d like to talk spring, Texas, writing, reading, and the Hill Country while eating a FREE LUNCH among friends, please join me next Wednesday. There might even be an optional writing prompt… and a slightly embarrassing look at some of my poetry… and maybe even my old Master’s thesis. MAYBE.

Happy spring! May it be full of flowers, and soft breezes, and perfect writing days.




March Fun: Book Launches, School Visits, & Lovely Words

Spring Break! It’s finally here, and I had a great time wrapping up last week visiting schools and celebrating book releases with friends. Tomorrow I’m off to get some new baby chicks for our new coop (pictures in the next post, I promise!), so today I’ll just put a few pictures and some of the loveliest words a teacher has ever said about me. (Much better than the words my own teachers wrote in my report cards long ago: “Nikki talks too much” and “Nikki distracts her classmates” and “Nikki’s behavior is…” You know what? Never mind. It’s Spring Break and I don’t have to think about those old teachers any more. They were obviously so, so wrong about me. I was always perfectly well-behaved.) In any case, here are the sweetest words a teacher named Cynthia wrote about my author visit to Menchaca Elementary.

     “Nikki Loftin is an amazing presenter. I have been a teacher for 24 years, and she is absolutely the best children’s author that I have had the pleasure of seeing present to students and teachers. She kept the entire audience completely captivated for the duration of the 45 minute performance. Her pacing, graphic aids, and delivery were impeccable. I would highly recommend Nikki Loftin to come and present to intermediate elementary students. She has a very twisted sense of humor that children and adults can adore. Thank you, Nikki, for sharing your gift with us!”  –  Cynthia Alba Love, February 2017

And here are some pictures from my latest school visit at Wooldridge Elementary in Austin. Huge thanks to Librarian Extraordinaire Elizabeth Benfield-Mikeska for inviting me!

Best front door decoration I’ve seen!

Wish Girl love!

Peter and Annie in the valley. <3 this so much…

And I love YOU kids, Wooldridge Quails!

I left a little something in the Little Free Library right outside on my way home! Wonder who found it?


And last but not least, I had the fun of celebrating with my good friend and Texas Sweetheart  P J Hoover on the release of her newest novel, Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World. I adore this gal, and her books.

Now, go read something! And check back in later for BABY CHICK PICTURES!!!


School Visit Season: San Antonio & More!

Hi, friends! I’ve been slacking on the blog since I’m working on four projects simultaneously. (Don’t ask, and don’t wag your fingers. I know it’s probably against every rule of writing, but I HAD NO CHOICE. I’ll explain if and when I can!)

In any case, along with all those projects, I’ve been doing school visits. Last week, I had the most fun at Alamo Heights in San Antonio, at both Cambridge and Woodridge Elementaries.

Librarian Lori Bauml at Cambridge Elementary. What a great way to start the morning, signing all those books and more!

The librarians had prepared the kids and the teachers so well that even the one assembly where the microphone didn’t work (with 175 fifth graders on the floor of the library!) went exceedingly well.

Rock Star Librarian Alena Keene-Carlson at Woodridge. I would have killed for that library collection – and library tree house!) when I was a kid.

One of the coolest parts of the day was being greeted by the superintendent of schools, who came to watch my first presentation! Okay, sure, it’s great when the superintendent shows (and it also hints at how seriously a district takes literacy), but the best part was this particular guy, Dr. Kevin Brown, was already a friend. He was the Assistant Principal at the school where I taught many years ago, and he was as wonderful back then as he is now. Even if he’s lost a little hair. 🙂

Now, back to the current manuscript, which I am in love with, even if it’s taking longer than many of mine. It’s got a family who may be my favorite characters I’ve ever written. Oh, please, let me get this story right… I love them so.

(Of course, as an author, I still have to torture them, love them or not. Sorry, sweet fictional family I love. I’m coming for you with TRAGEDY this week. *cue evil laughter*)




A Valentine for You: The Youngest Marcher Giveaway

My friends, I am filled with love for all of you! And because I am in such a loving mood, I am going to give one of you an incredible gift: a signed first edition of Cynthia Levinson‘s The Youngest Marcher.

The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson

Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, this picture book tells the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activist who went to jail in Birmingham during the children’s marches. She was one of many! The jails filled with children, and eventually these marches helped break the back of institutionalized segregation.


Cynthia’s books are amazing – if you haven’t read her book We’ve Got a Job, you need to drop everything and read it now. If you want a book for any age that can show you exactly what civil disobedience and peaceful protest can do – even when the protestors are under 10 years old- Cynthia’s books are the best.


So, how do you enter? Well, leave a comment on this post along with a valid email address by February 13, telling me why you or your child or your school or library needs this book! I will ask my husband to pick his favorite comment on Valentine’s Day, and it’s yours! (High likelihood of extra prizes, folks. Because LOVE!)

*This is open to anyone in North America. You don’t have to be a librarian or teacher, just need the book.