Happy Book Birthday to Me!

I am a soppy, sentimental, squishy person. I always have been, even if sometimes I hide it. I’ve been humming the words to this tune all week, and thinking about all the people I love, all the ones I feel so grateful to for this day.

An acknowledgments page just doesn’t cover it.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you to all the people at Razorbill and New Leaf – especially Laura, Emily, and Suzie. Thank you to my amazing family and Writer Friends. My Writer Friends! Cynthia, Samantha, Joy, Nan, Shelli, Lindsey, Lizzie – too many to count. You are my tribe, and I’m so glad I found you.

Thank you to the book bloggers who have taken time to write and post reviews – and to Jen, for setting up my tour!

Thanks to Dave, who gaily canceled the fun cable channels, magazine subscriptions, and spent down the savings so I could have the time to write. And thank you to my kids, who have learned to cook their own dinners… and how to read manuscripts like professional editors.

Now I have a party on Saturday to get ready for – and you are invited! Bring an (un)healthy appetite – there’s going to be a whole lot of sweetness at Bookpeople on Saturday. 🙂

Book Launch in 3…2…1…

THREE DAYS! And that’s if you count today, which totally shouldn’t count, right?

Oh, wow, I just turned into a five year old waiting for her birthday. I can’t help it, though. It’s all very exciting.

In case you were wondering what a middle grade author does on her final few days before publication, let me enlighten you.

This week, Tech Support Guy and I have been working on the Sinister Sweetness book trailer, which is going well, I think. The boys have helped me stuff about 300 small golden bags with M&Ms for party favors next Saturday. The fridge is full of hundreds of marzipan fruits (which I did NOT make, thank you very much), and the freezer is loaded with hundreds of tiny, sugar-sand frosted cupcakes (complete with miniature bones poking out of them, which I DID make). I dug out the embarrassing family photos for the PowerPoint presentation, and I’m choosing the VERY short passage I’ll read on Saturday.

I still haven’t figured out everything I’m going to say. I’m afraid I’ll get nervous, and it’ll be “bjlgarglflrablemarfhsdurh.” But I’ll try to be slightly more intelligible.

So, between all that, and the thousand other things I’m too tired to mention, and getting ready for back-to-school with the kids – I’m crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy.

And I’m overwhelmed with all the blog loveliness that’s coming my way!

If you want to win a copy of my book, there are quite a few places you can enter this week:

1. The Mod Podge Bookshelf

2. Badass Bookie: Debut of the Month (check out my truffle dress)

3. YA Reads

4. Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

And — just in case you’re local enough to attend — the Austin-American Statesman newspaper has a lovely review and details on my launch party here.

What an amazing week! I hope you’re having fun, too. And writing? Which I am, sadly, not doing. *sigh* I’ll get back to it soon. I miss my WIP… 🙂




Winners and Other Awesome Stuff

We have a winner! The winner of the gorgeously illustrated book, Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave, is Shelley Moore Thomas! Who happens to be the author of an upcoming Middle Grade masterpiece, The Seven Tales of Trinket. Oh my goodness, if you love fairy tales, you MUST read this book. So amazing.



Yay, Shelley! Now send me your address and I’ll ship the precious off to you.

In other news… supposedly The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is one of Apple ibooks’ Best of August! Which is so cool, and I believe it since my editor sent me a screen shot of the page that says so… only I can’t seem to find it on my ibooks page. I’ll just show you all the cool screen shot. See? Isn’t that nifty? I’m very excited!

Now, it’s back to the kitchen for me – I’m halfway through the first 300 cupcakes. Did I ever mention I bake when I’m stressed? Um, yeah. Sort of jittery down here in Texas…



The Scary Times: One Week Until Book Launch!

I’m going to get real here, friends: It’s not all that fun right now.

I mean, sure, it’s fun, everyone’s excited about the book coming out, I’m baking a million cupcakes for the launch party at Bookpeople on the 25th… and I’m happily excited, I swear! But, the past few days, that excitement has been seasoned with a healthy dose of nerves.

It’s sort of like when you finally get on the big roller coaster you’ve been dying to be on for so long, after waiting in line for hours, and you’re going up that enormous first hill, with the clackity-whirr of gears grinding underneath you… and the “happy excited” flips ever-so-slightly into the “oh-crud” kind?

Yeah, that.

No, I have no idea why. Except that it’s not every day that your Life’s Dream comes true, is it? And mine is about to hit. And if I learned one thing from having a super-colicky Screamer Devil Baby almost 13 years ago, it’s that Glorious Life Changing Events never turn out exactly the way you’d think.

So, think about me this final week. And, if you still want to win a book by/from a Nervous Nellie debut author, you can enter here:

1. Vonna Carter’s blog has a guest post by moi, with a link to my new Splendid Academy website! Win an ARC, and instant fame/notoriety as a meal-planner for the school.

2. Mod Podge Books has a few days to run on a contest for a SIGNED coy of the FINAL BOOK! Seriously, you want this one.

3. I’m giving away a copy of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave in honor of Joy Preble’s launch of Anastasia Forever. Extended until Wednesday!

Now, I’ll just go eat a few more squares of chocolate until these nerves pass. They will pass, right?



Vasilisa the Brave: Celebrating Joy Preble!

One of the very best things about being a writer, at least in Central Texas, is the company. There are SO MANY amazing writers here! And if you are lucky enough to live here (and come out of your writing cave occasionally), you get to meet them, talk to them, and learn what amazing people they are in addition to the whole “genius writer” thing.

Last year, I had the chance to go to a retreat with a bunch of friends at a place we like to call the Lodge of Dead Things. It was wonderful, of course. But one of the best parts was getting to know author Joy Preble.

Seriously, she is funny, smart as a whip, kind, generous, and her writing! Gah! If I hadn’t loved her so much, I would have had the tiny teeth of jealousy tearing at my innards for weeks after that retreat. She’s a rockstar.

And she has a book coming out – the third in a series! Which I own, and NO I am NOT giving it away on the blog, it is MINE ALL MINE. But… when I was talking to Joy, we realized that we both have the character of Vasilisa the Brave in our books, both of which are coming out in the next two weeks — so I thought we should celebrate.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the story of Vasilisa. It’s okay, and you’re not alone. Heck, I know at least one reviewer/kid with an advance copy of Sinister Sweetness who had never hear d of Hansel and Gretel, and they still got the story. BUT, dear friends, if you get this book and THEN read Joy’s or my books?


Okay, well, maybe if you read it, then Joy’s book. My book mostly just makes people hungry, then nervous.

Anyway… HERE is what I AM giving away to celebrate: One brand-new copy of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave, by Marianna Mayer.

I will also throw in a bookmark of Joy’s , one of mine, and maybe even a few other little goodies because I love Joy that much and want to celebrate her awesomeness.

So, in the comments section, tell me what your very favorite fairy tale is for one entry. And if you tweet about this, tell me that, too, and I’ll enter your name another time!*

So, hooray for Joy! And hooray for you, dear readers — August is filling up with fun fairy tale-ish b0oks!

*This contest is good for North America only, please! Contest will end on 8/14.

Making the Book Trailer + A Giveaway!

Oh, friends. There are parts of this whole debut author thing that scare me to death. Mostly it’s the technology-related stuff. (You may have picked up on the fact that I’m really the tiniest bit afraid of Twitter, even though I use it. And these nights I wake up in a cold sweat, having nightmares about Skype visits gone horribly wrong.)

So, making a book trailer would be one of These Evil Things, right?

Not if you are married to the world’s awesomest husband. WHICH I AM. And he happens to be an amazing photographer, AND a computer whiz. (My momma always told me to “marry tech support.” Thanks, Mom. Good call.)

This book trailer thing is going to be so much fun. I think.

In any case, we’ve been Very Busy taking pictures of kids with the most insane amounts of inappropriately sweet junk food… and then giving the food to the kids who model for us, of course. (One kid ate his entire PIE right after his photo shoot. A whole pie. There is a picture book I adore with a dog who did this. Buy it now.)

In any case, the trailer will be unveiled at my book launch party at Bookpeople in Austin, Texas on Saturday, August 25. (To which you are all invited. Go, buy your plane tickets!) I think it will be awesome. Here is one of the models. (My kid!)

First course of breakfast at Splendid Academy


Once you’ve enjoyed ogling my cute kid, trot on over to the ModPodgeBookshelf blog to read a new guest post I wrote on re-naming my main character in Sinister Sweetness… and enter for a chance to win an ACTUAL first-edition, SIGNED copy of my book!

And if you want to read some amazing reviews for Sinister Sweetness, check out the Mother-Daughter Reading Team, or Pure Imagination! Thanks, y’all – you’re very lovely, and I would totally bake you a pie. A whole one. Just for you.

More later in the week on the Amazing Joy Preble… for whom I would bake an entire kitchen full of pies. She has an awesome book coming out… and I’m going to do something very special for the occasion!

Happy Confetti: What’s Shaking This Week

Tis the season for ARC giveaways! And this week, you have two more chances to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy… as well as a bunch of swag and candy. (We’re talking dark chocolate here, people.)

Here are the links, and don’t wait! These contests only run for a few more days. Also, there are slightly awkward interviews with me at both sites, so good for all your “laughing at Nikki” needs.

Karen McCoy’sThe Writer Librarian

and the excellent

Sleuths, Spies, and Alibis

And while you’re clicking links, check out my friend Shelli Cornelison‘s awesome YA short story, “The Hard Shells of Turtles” at Verbal Pyrotechnics. Wait… a new venue for YA short fiction? I hope you people are taking notes. 🙂

This week’s awesome reviews for Sinister Sweetness:

Thanks to Omnimystery News for including Sinister Sweetness on your new mystery titles for kids list!

Agent-mate Lori M. Lee and her sweet daughter both read and reviewed. *hugs*

Check out The Show Me Librarian’s list!

Now I have to go finish writing an essay… and eating an almond gateau. Mmmmm… the difficult life of a writer. 🙂


One Month Left: Bookish News

Well, friends, I’ve been shopping! Which I normally hate, but this is sort of fun shopping – for my launch party! All sorts of exciting raffle prizes to match the theme. (Um, a whole CASE of candy bars is one of the prizes. So, yeah. It’s going to be awesome. Unless you’re a parent. Then you’re going to hate me, if your kid wins. And did you know they make these three-foot-long, three-inch-diameter rolls of Twizzlers? Yes, they do. I’m looking at one right now. Raffle prize #2.)

Not much to report this week, other than one more very nice review from Kirkus Reviews. You’re not supposed to quote the whole thing, but someone very kindly posted it in its entirety on the Barnes and Noble page for my book, so here you go!  Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

I KNOW, RIGHT? So amazing.

I can’t decide if my favorite quote is “deliciously scary and satisfying,” or just “irresistible.”

Now it’s time to go read! I’m reading the amazing WONDER by R. J. Palacios, and an early ARC of SUMMER AND BIRD. Gorgeous so far. Which shall I pick tonight…

What are you reading?

Great Reviews and Free ARCs, Too!

Well, Aloha, friends! I just got back from a two-week vacation-of-a-lifetime in Hawaii, and I’m feeling very, very happy.

Not just because of this:

Or this:

But also, because of this:

AMAZING Publishers Weekly Review of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy!

SQUEEEEE! (I totally deserve to squee. I mean, “fresh, mesmerizing, new AND classic? Pardon me while I swoon.)

I’m so happy! And I’m ALSO happy because while I was away, TWO amazing writer friends posted interview/essays of mine on their blogs, with ARC giveaways of the aforementioned “fresh, mesmerizing, etc.” book.

So, hurry! Before the contests end, trot over to Laurisa White Reyes’ A Thousand Wrongs blog and enter her contest (also check out her amazing blog. She’s doing it right, y’all!). Then nip over to Claire LeGrand’s site for ANOTHER Sinister Sweetness ARC giveaway, and the story of my lifelong love affair with Pippi Longstocking.
Can I just say how cool it was to see this post go live when I was doing this with my kids?

Fresh coconut, just like Pippi likes it!

We ate breadfruit, too, but the kids weren't smiling while we did it. So we'll skip those pictures.

What a great month! And to think that in one more month (plus a few days), Sinister Sweetness will be out in the world! *nervous trembling*

Okay, now I may need another mai tai.

Write well, friends, and don’t forget to try something new this week. Possibly not breadfruit, though. Blech.

Cover Love: My Sinister Sweetness Cover Arrives!

It came in the mail!!! My book jacket! From my delightful, kind editor, who sends me lovely things from time to time, and this week sent me this:


As beautiful as a newborn unicorn, yes?

Is it not the most gorgeous thing ever??? Click on it to make it larger so you appreciate it more fully. I’ll wait.

Okay, I’ll admit. I feel precisely the way about my cover as I felt about my babies when they were born. All I can see is perfection. I love it all — the tree on the spine, the colors of the words that bring to mind flames or warning signs, the different colors of text on the foggy, misty, blackened background, the way they captured my author photo and even the ISBN/UPC with branches, the quote from the lovely Cynthia Leitich Smith framed in the treetops, the school crest, EVERYTHING!

And what you cannot see is that it is textured, the whole thing, sort of gritty, like SAND (and if you know the story you just screamed along with me!), except for the branches and lettering and a few other bits which are slick and glossy like butterscotch candy wrappers.

It is divine. So, so lovely.

Thank you, a thousand thank yous to the genius Emily Osborne, my cover designer, and also to Alexander Jansson, who did the illustration on the front.

I’m so happy!