I Joined the Texas Sweethearts (and Scoundrels)!

Hey, y’all! Big news!

I joined a group of amazing Texas-based writers this month, the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels. I am beyond thrilled to be in the company of some of my favorite writers. P.J. Hoover, Jo Whittemore, K.A. Holt… actually the list goes ON and ON, so I’ll just post a link to the newsletter and blog here. Go check it out!

If you are interested in meeting up with us at events, or even getting critiques on queries, synopses, and/or manuscripts, there’s also a place for that.

logo_with_border-1

The first thing on our schedule is a meet-up at the huge TLA conference in Houston this April. Librarian friends, I promise you’ll want to stop by the booth… the Sweethearts always make it worth the trip. 🙂

One of the newest Sweethearts just had her debut picture book launch yesterday. Congrats, Carmen Oliver!

IMG_2375

Her Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies is funny and wonderful. Buy it, or I’ll think you’re a scoundrel. 🙂

 

Want to Cry? I’ve Got You Covered + Giveaway!

Happy book birthday to me!

435

Today is the release date for Wish Girl in paperback, and I am SUPER happy to share with you the lovely book trailer that’s rolled out today on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s fabulous blog, Cynsations. Trot on over, watch the trailer, ooh and ah and enter to win a copy of the book!

After you do that, if you want to celebrate even MORE (I’m talking to you, Mom), you can check out the list Barnes and Noble Kids made up called Ten Middle Grade Novels Perfect for a Good Cry.

I’ll just be sitting over here in a corner, wondering at MY book being on a list with some of my favorite books EVER WRITTEN.

What a day! And what fun to have friends to share it with, and more ideas that come knocking every week. I may just keep doing this writing thing for the rest of my life.

Read, write, and cry if you want to, friends!

Valentine’s MG Giveaway: Win ALL the Books!

I have this great friend named Lynda Mullaly Hunt, who writes the most phenomenal books, and who knows pretty much ALL the other MG authors out there, and once a year holds a contest for librarians and teachers to win ALL THE BOOKS!!!

scaletowidth

So, it’s that time again. She’s giving away a TON of books to one lucky winner, and my book Wish Girl is one of them…

435

And you should 100% go to her website here right now and enter to win.

Do it! Because we MG authors love our teachers and librarians SO MUCH.

Enter by commenting on LYNDA’S blog (not mine) or tweeting the link on her blog to #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers  by next Saturday night!

 

What Librarians Wish For (& Wish Girl Giveaway Winner)

Wow. Want to know how to make an author cry with happiness?

I ran a contest to give away five paperback copies of Wish Girl to a librarian or teacher, and asked those commenting on my blog to post their wish for their students. Reading those comments brought happy tears.

I already knew librarians were some of the finest people of my acquaintance, but just look at these snippets from the comments, listed below. These are the deep wishes of caring librarians for their students. It gives me great hope for the future when I think of these people nurturing young readers. What gifts they are to their students!

My wish for my students is…

“that they always find that one person they can talk to and feel safe with when they are having a not so great day. Having that connection is so important.” -Deb

“that they have access to books that stretch their minds and lead them to glorious futures.” -Veronica

“that they can overcome the tragedies and bad experiences that they’ve lived through, and not allow those things to hold them back. Overcome those obstacles and continue forth in life and become successful with the things they want to achieve. Some have it much worse than anyone could imagine and they have to work harder in getting there.” -Kelly

“that my students find comfort in books, and that they feel safe, secure, and loved in our library.” -Erin

that “all of my students could find that one place during their lives where they can just escape to and where people get them.” – Mikela

“for my students to have great books to read in their hands so that they can read and relate to them!” -Ronnie

“for my students to get excited by amazing literature” – Steffanie

“for my students is that they are not held back by those who intentionally or unintentionally try to silence them or keep them from growing” -Stacey

“that everyone of them understands & realizes that each of their voices matters and that they can each make a difference in the world.” – Becky

“to be brave enough to dream big! I also wish that they can learn to love and find comfort in books the way that I have.” – Jessica

“that each of my 356 students is able at some point to find a book that swallows them whole, refusing to spit them back out.” – Susan

“that they will realize how very special and unique they each are.” -Rita

“for all children to feel valued for being their authentic selves.” -Diane

“that they read to see the world through another person’s eyes creating a new understanding and compassion for the book characters as they vividly come to life.” -Cara

“for my students to continue to ask amazing questions when interacting with literature.  ” -Lisa

“that they all discover a love of literature at some point in their lives. ” -Susie

“that they become kind people who honor and respect themselves and others.” -Margaret

Thank you to all those who posted their wishes, and congratulations to the randomly chosen winner of the 5 copies of Wish Girl… Jessica Samuel. I wish all of you could have won… and I hope ALL of your wishes come true. I have a feeling you’re working every day to make that happen.

 

Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars: Worth Fighting Over

Hi, y’all! I’m popping in today to leave a review about my friend Cory Putman Oakes’ newest book, Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars. She very graciously gave me a signed ARC copy to give away here as well!

Dinosaur-Boy-2-Cover

The only problem is, when my youngest son saw the ARC sitting on my desk, he yelled, “There’s another one?! Woohoo!” and ran away with it.

The first one, which we BOTH loved.

The first one, which we BOTH loved.

Then he growled at me when I told him I needed to read it for this post.

Drew reading DinoBoy

Then he took it to school because “I can’t stop reading now, I’ve finally found a favorite book and you’re taking it away? What kind of a mom are you?”

Drewdino

And even last night, when I thought I could skim the first few chapters at least, the kid proclaimed “I will die if I don’t finish this tonight! Please don’t make me go to bed.”

Drewreading

So, that’s all the review I have… but I think it might be enough. 🙂

I’m sure he’s finishing it this morning at school instead of doing his work, and I’m looking forward to reading it soon. And then I’m looking forward to sending it to one of YOU!

So, any North American reader on this blog post who leaves a comment (idea: favorite funny book that kept you or your kids up reading at night) will have their name put in the hat, and the kid will pull the winning comment on February 13, the day of Cory’s launch party at Bookpeople!

Happy Birthday, Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars. I know I’ll love you when I get my hands on you.

 

UPDATE! The contest is over and Julien is the winner! Julien, send me your address and I’ll mail the ARC to you.

Wish Girl in Paperback & a Giveaway

Hip hip hooray!

It’s always a Big Deal when a book is first released, right? Well, as it turns out, it’s even a Big Deal to authors when a book comes out again… in paperback. This means your publisher believes in your book enough to re-tool the cover, market it some more, etc. And kids who haven’t read it have another shot at finding it, as it hits bookstore shelves all over again – and for less $$$, so more kids can afford it.

435

And guess what? Wish Girl is coming out in paperback on February 23rd! I’m super excited, and to celebrate, I’m going to give away five signed paperback copies to a teacher, librarian, or book club leader who comments on this post! Just tell me what YOUR wish is for your kids/students this year. I will ask my son to draw a name at random from a hat on February 10 in the morning (yeah, super low tech over here), and we will announce the winner that day. (North American entries only please.)

Thanks to all the teachers, librarians, and readers out there who have read Wish Girl and loved it enough that it’s staying in the world… and in reader’s hands. You are my wish come true!

 

 

90-Second Newbery Festival: San Antonio Pics

Wow! I had the most fun weekend ever in San Antonio, celebrating great books, smart kids, and wonderful short films. I got a few photos, too, so I thought I’d take a break from writing for a few minutes to share.

1339e10a89a70ef5bbc47c10e4dd0015

The crowd was amazing! By the end, it was a full house, with beaming parents, grandparents, and kids everywhere.

The crowd was amazing! By the end, it was a full house, with beaming parents, grandparents, and kids everywhere.

Author James Kennedy and I were set to battle to the death… THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE…

IMG_2170 (1)

… but then we thought better of the “Newbery Death match idea”…

IMG_2171 (1)

… and we went with “Friendly Co-Hosts with Great Fashion Sense” as our schtick instead. (Check out my Cinderella shoes! And James’ velvet tux. We rocked it.)

IMG_2173 (1)

The winners got trophies AND HUGE CASH PRIZES for their schools! Fame, glory, and money for schools? A perfect combo. (That’s rock star librarian Irene Kistler in the background, BTW. Hi, Irene!)

IMG_2178

This young lady modeled her “The Giver” beard. She is an aspiring writer, an actor, and pretty much who I wish I had been as a kid. Rock on, Simone!

IMG_2177

And that’s all!

1339e10a89a70ef5bbc47c10e4dd0015

I hope that, if you live in or near a city with a 90-Second Newbery Festival, you’ll go – or even better! – make your own film and enter. It’s the coolest, truly.

 

The Last Authorly Events of 2015

Wow! What a year 2015 has been. From the paperback release of Nightingale’s Nest (and the two awards it won!!!), to the publication of Wish Girl, and then the Guys Read: Terrifying Tales anthology, to all those trips to Oklahoma and Minnesota and elsewhere… it’s been full!

I have three more fun things lined up for Author Nikki… and then I will go into a social media/blog/email- free cave and finish writing my next book. It’ll be just me, my laptop, and an endless supply of tea and chocolate. Writer Nikki, kicking it old school.

But before I do that… I’ll be signing copies of Nightingale’s Nest and Wish Girl at the Humanities Texas Annual Holiday Book Fair this Saturday, December 12, from 10:00 am–1:00 pm at the Byrne-Reed House, 1410 Rio Grande Street in Austin. The author line-up looks fantastic, and I’ll have some treats for friends who come in… Stop by and say hi!

p-1

And I have a super fun morning of writing workshops planned for tomorrow morning at Galindo Elementary in Austin… and a Skype visit with Ms. Rattner’s class up in New York! Those kids have been reading Wish Girl, and have a ton a great questions for me. There’s nothing more fun than engaging in literary conversation with smart, passionate learners!

A couple of those students made an Animoto video for Wish Girl. Check it out. Isn’t it the coolest thing? Thanks, Taylor and Grace!

Now, I’ve got to get some gifts ready for the kids at Ortega Elementary who sent me their amazing stories, and a little something for the writers at Galindo as well…

 

Reading Rock Stars 2015 in Houston

There are some days when being an author is the Best Thing Ever. Thursday was one of those days for me. Thanks to the Texas Book Festival and the Reading Rock Stars program, I was invited to present to 4th and 5th grades at Crockett Elementary in Houston, Texas.

Outside Crockett with authors Don Tate and James Luna.

Outside Crockett with authors Don Tate and James Luna.

The school itself was beautiful, and decorated to the hilt! There were giant posters of our book covers…

IMG_2034 (1)

IMG_2056 (1)

a permanent art installation with pics of our book covers, painted by art teacher extraordinaire Claudia Elizondo…

IMG_2029

IMG_2028

IMG_2030

posters and murals everywhere…

IMG_2036 (1)

the school orchestra came and played for me!!!

12295523_10208181510478329_6168321055660312475_n

and they had made trees with decorations that matched each of the three books. Here are some “wishes” that kids made to hang on the Wish Girl tree:

IMG_2047 IMG_2051 (1) IMG_2050 (1) IMG_2049 (1) IMG_2053 IMG_2052 (1)IMG_2055 (1) IMG_2054 (1)

After presenting to a bunch of kids, the best part of the day came: when I got to hand a signed copy of my book to every kid there. I got hugs, tears, laughter, and a whole lot of thank yous.

12341035_10153453436808124_3631103662057190553_n 12313582_10153453436838124_1943763587526142541_n

But I was the one thanking those lovely folks in charge – the Texas Book festival, HEB grocery stores for their huge financial support of the program, and even La Madeleine in Sawyer Heights for the scrumptious lunch!

IMG_2046 (1)

And, honestly? I was thanking God for allowing me to be a part of this. Sometimes it’s hard to see if your work really matters. This week, I had no question at all.

IMG_2050 (1)

Gratitude: it’s the theme for this month. I am thankful for all of you, too, friends! Go do good work in the world. Your work matters, too. Do it with love.

NCTE 2015: Packing my Warmest Fancy Pants for Minnesota

site-thumb

Hiya, friends! I am preparing for a whirlwind two days in Minneapolis this weekend, where I will be rubbing shoulders with some of the finest teachers and librarians in the nation, and trying to hold my own with some of the best authors ever. Which authors?

That would be Kate Messner, Anne Ursu, Tracey Baptiste, Linda Urban, Laura Ruby, and Christina Diaz Gonzalez. Oh, and our panel will be moderated by Colby Sharp.

I’m super duper nervous, actually.

If you’d like to come witness the stammering, blushing, and silliness that will be me in the presence of so much awesomeness, join me! I’ll post the schedule below. Oh, and if you show up for my signings, you’ll get either a deep discount OR a free book! Hope I see you there.

Saturday Schedule:

9:00 – 10:00 AM                        Signing at Anderson’s Bookshop

Booth# 950| Minneapolis Convention Center

NIGHTINGALE’S NEST & WISH GIRL will be available for sale at a 20% discount off list price.

 

12:00 – 1:00 PM                         Signing in Penguin Young Readers booth

Booth #316 | Minneapolis Convention Center

We will be giving away copies of WISH GIRL

 

2:45 – 4:00 PM            Panel: Exploring Tough Issues Through Magic & Fantasy in MG and YA Literature with Nikki Loftin, Linda Urban, Kate Messner, Anne Ursu, Laura Ruby, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, and Tracey Baptiste

                                                Room 101E | Minneapolis Convention Center