Nikki Loftin

Archive for the ‘Family News’ Category

Recap: Fun at the Book Spot!

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September 10th, 2014 Posted 9:37 am

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.

 

The books these friends wrote are AMAZING! Tara Dairman‘s All Four Stars, Rebecca Behrens‘ When Audrey Met Alice, K. A Holt‘s forthcoming Rhyme Schemer, and Jennifer Ziegler‘s Revenge of the Flower Girls all hold a spot on my bookshelf and in my heart.

From left to right: Tara Dairman, Rebecca Behrens, me, Kari Ann Holt, and Jennifer Ziegler.

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.

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!

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!

Cool fact: Our picture got picked up by the Publisher’s Weekly roundup! Check it out. We look very fancy, yes?

Now, back to work! All sorts of exciting things going on here. Secret things, that will soon be official!

 

The Nightingale Summer: Where I Went, Who I Saw, What I Loved

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September 3rd, 2014 Posted 2:12 pm

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.

NightingalesNest graphic

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.

Sunset on the Piedras Lumbras

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!

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 Time of the Fireflies, and Nicest Person in New Mexico

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.

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?

Who could that masked man be?

We rode roller coasters, real ones…

First Roller Coaster for him!

First Roller Coaster for him!

Twisting coasters have nothing on a Kirkus review!

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.

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.

Palo Duro, on the way home.

I do it for the beauty of it.

alien and drew

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!

 

 

Exciting Events: Signing, Reading, Prize-Giving at Boulder Bookstore

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July 24th, 2014 Posted 6:30 pm

Hello, friends! I’m here with the FINAL Exciting Events blog post for the week – not last because I’m done with Exciting Things, but because my editor sent my Exciting Pass Pages and I have to triple-check them for Exciting/Heart-Attack Inducing Typos and Last Minute Changes. Eek!

But before I go off into the editing cave once again, here is an Exciting Event for any of you living near Boulder, Colorado! Please come out on Wednesday, August 6 at 6:30 p.m. for a reading/signing/goodie bag grabbing/prize winning event that will feature nests, family members and writer friends at the amazing Boulder Bookstore.

The staff at Boulder Bookstore have been incredibly supportive of my books, and I plan to return the favor by buying a squintillion books there. Come join me! I promise, if you do, you will be as happy as these pigs:

Okay, this is probably the last vacation picture I'll post. I couldn't resist. Baby pigs.

Okay, this is probably the last vacation picture I’ll post. I couldn’t resist. Baby pigs!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting Events: Free Writing Workshop at Beehive Books in Santa Fe

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July 18th, 2014 Posted 4:33 pm

Hello again!

Obviously, I have a ton going on these days. And a lot of it is out of town fun! One of my favorite things to do is to work with kids in small-group writing workshops, and I am super excited to have the chance to do that in Austin in July, and…

in Santa Fe, New Mexico in August!

If you have a kid (or act like one, or even just want to come to a cool, short writing workshop), please show up at 2 pm at Beehive Books in Santa Fe on Sunday, August 3rd. I will be there with all sorts of goodies and a fun fairy tale-centric writing workshop. Also, I will read from Nightingale’s Nest, sign books, and answer all your questions.

I promise, it will be wonderful as this miniature Scottish waterfall.

Is this not incredibly wonderful? YES IT IS.

Is this not incredibly wonderful? YES IT IS.

 

 

Exciting Events: Westbank Library Writing Workshop

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July 16th, 2014 Posted 2:36 pm

Hi, Friends!

I’m back from my super exciting vacation, and I’ll be checking in EVERY SINGLE DAY this week to tell you about some cool upcoming events where you meet a REAL LIVE AUTHOR (me) and learn valuable skills! Eat valuable cookies! And take home valuable bookmarks!

And I will also show you my amazing vacation photos. Like this one:

Yes, dear readers, I vacationed with puffins, the world's cutest birds.

Yes, dear readers, I vacationed with puffins, the world’s cutest birds.

 

After you finish drowning in the cuteness that is puffin, check out the Westbank Library’s upcoming summer writing workshop! If you live in the Austin area and have a kid who wants to write, bring ‘em to the library on July 29th at 4:30 p.m. for this:

No fairy tale is safe from an author in search of material! In this hour-long workshop, students will pick apart favorite fairy tales and discover how to twist a classic story into a new work of art. Students will leave with an outline and opening (or more) of their own story, and a head full of ideas for how to “steal from Goldilocks” and get away with it.

I promise it will be FUN and FUNNY and the stories will be as majestic as a puffin.

Well, not quite. But very, very majestic.

Avalanche of Awesomeness/Windstorm of Woe

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June 16th, 2014 Posted 2:03 pm

Hello!

I’ve missed posting here for a while, so please forgive all the catching up I’ll have to do today! At first, I was absent for good/great reasons…

A trip to Paris with my niece!

Notre Dame

A long-awaited trip for the two of us. We left after we ate the last croissants in the city. Paris is delicious.

School visits!

Author posters are so fun!

Author posters are so fun! This one was at Rooster Springs Elementary.

You know what never gets old? Seeing kid-made art of my covers.

You know what never gets old? Seeing kid-made art of my covers.

Library visits!

A writing workshop at the Wimberley Village Library is the perfect way to end the school year.

A writing workshop at the Wimberley Village Library is the perfect way to end the school year.

End of School stuff for my kids!

Funniest end of the year presentation ever: my kid acted out the Black Knight skit from Monty Python's Spamalot. (He was King Arthur.)

Funniest end of the year presentation ever: my kid acted out the Black Knight skit from Monty Python’s Spamalot. (He was King Arthur.)

Amazing book launch parties for my friends!

I love Joy Preble and her books so much! Check out her latest, The A-Word, from Soho Press.

I love Joy Preble and her books so much! Check out her latest, The A-Word, from Soho Press.

Bethany Hegedus's amazing picture book launch party featured an equally amazing cake by cakellustrator Akiko White!

Bethany Hegedus’s amazing picture book launch party featured an equally amazing cake by cakellustrator Akiko White!

And even an Indies First! Read-Aloud Storytime day in Houston!

IMG_3312 IMG_3313

With Kathy Duval, Crystal Allen, and Varsha Bajaj. So much fun!

With Kathy Duval, Varsha Bajaj, me and Crystal Allen. So much fun!

Anyway…

I had plans to do an amazing, thought-provoking recap post (or series of posts!) about all of that stuff. Then a giant windstorm whipped through my neighborhood (like a tornado, with wind speeds up to 120+ according to a neighbor with a wind gauge) and did very bad things to my house (trees falling on our AC units, leaks forming in the house, goat shed picked up and removed from the yard!!!) and injured one of our sweet goats. (She is okay! Just a bunch of stitches and now a lot of TLC.)

So I’m writing this in a house with no AC (not a big deal unless you live where I do, where temps in the summer reach “Hades” by noon), waiting for workpeople to come and make the house liveable again.

Consequently, I may not be able to check in here as much over the summer.

But there are big things on the way! In August, I will have a brand new author website! It’s going to be soooo pretty.

And I’m at all sorts of events this summer, including out of state bookstore visits! Here’s a quick list of places that are confirmed. Come see me there! And bring me a popsicle? It’s hot.

Writer’s League of Texas Thursday panel on pitches, June 19, 7 p.m. at Bookpeople

Westbank Library in Beecave, Writing workshop for young writers, July 29, 4:30 pm

And guess what? I’m doing a mini BOOK TOUR in New Mexico and Colorado!

August 2, Bookworks in Albuquerque, 10:30 a.m. with the stunning author Kimberley Griffiths Little!

August 3, Beehive Books in Santa Fe, N.M., time TBA

August 6, Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, CO, 6:30 p.m.

More dates and venues to come! Stay safe, and write on.

Ready or Not, 2014 is Here!

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January 3rd, 2014 Posted 5:01 pm

And I am SO not ready.

The paperback for Sinister Sweetness releases in about two weeks.

Nightingale’s Nest releases at the end of February.

My first round of edits for Book #3 (Wish Girl, but the title is one of the “edits.” I’m taking suggestions) is due February 15.

The School Visit and Conference season begins in January…and never stops.

And… this month alone I have a Cotillion Ball for one of my kids, and a Major Goat Show for the other one. Two family birthdays, company staying from overseas, and a Pinewood Derby.

*sob* I resolve to… go back to bed for a month?

It would all be Much Too Much, except that lovely things like this article by Anne Ursu keep popping up… and this Best Reads of 2013 list… and this Books to Watch For post…

It almost makes me not quite so panicky and awkward-feeling. Almost.

Thank goodness for that lovely Billy Collins book I got for Christmas! Poetry makes it all better, somehow. This year, I resolve to read more poetry.

I think that’s a resolution I may actually manage.

Happy New Year, friends! I wish you a thousand happy beginnings.

 

November: School Visits, Keynote Coolness, Peruvian Stuff, & Goats

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December 2nd, 2013 Posted 12:00 pm

I’m sorry, dear blog readers. I have neglected you for an entire month! I had a lot going on this month, including company from overseas and cookie recipes to perfect for the Exquisite Long-Awaited Season of Baking that’s just ahead.

Baking is a priority, people. A high priority.

So I’m going to jam a whole lot of pictures into this post, and get back to my baking. Oh, and writing, I probably should do some more of that soon. :) *plans to write with icing on cookies*

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. The Library Jubilee Annual Conference in Waco, Texas, which was amazing and fun! (Sorry for the blurry picture, we were having too much fun to focus our cameras.) I gave a keynote speech and got to share my happy librarian memories – as well as stories from a ton of author friends. It was awesome.

Coordinator Sherry McElhannon and I helped convince all the Region 12 Texas librarians of their innate rock star-ishness earlier this month.

Coordinator Sherry McElhannon and I helped convince all the Region 12 Texas librarians of their innate rock star-ishness earlier this month.

2. Then Sam Bond, one of my favorite writer friends in the world, and a founding member of the Soup Salon, had her debut book launch party in November! The book, Operation Golden Llama, is the first in what will be a series of around-the-world middle grade adventures, featuring five cousins and a cast of intriguing animals and criminals. :)

My writer friend's debut book! So cute and super fun to read. But some now!

My writer friend’s debut book! So cute and super fun to read. But some now!

The first book is set in Peru. Look at that amazing cover!

The first book is set in Peru. Look at that amazing cover!

The launch party was packed. And there were LLAMA COOKIES.

The launch party was packed. And there were LLAMA COOKIES.

3. I was invited to do a special author visit at a high school in Round Rock, Texas. The librarian, Angela, and her lovely assistant Anna, posed for this picture right before the visit.

Check out those great high school librarians.. and their picture book month selection, too! What clever gals. Picture books are perfect for high school.

Check out those great high school librarians.. and their picture book month selection, too! What clever gals. Picture books are perfect for high school.

I taught two writing workshops that day on making memorable characters to some very talented students. It was fun and exciting and slightly scary – I usually teach younger kids. It went well, though – and I have proof! This picture was taken afterwards… and the librarians are still smiling. Thanks to Cedar Ridge, Angela and Anna for hosting me! Y’all are lovely.

Still smiling!

4. What else happened in November? OH, my kid also won a third place ribbon with one of his gorgeous goats. Just in case you’re interested in such things. OF COURSE YOU ARE. YOU CARE DEEPLY. (Ignore the fingers in the photo.)

Random photo of my son winning third prize at a goat show. This IS what author blogs are for, right?

Random photo of my son winning third prize at a goat show. This IS what author blogs are for, right?

5. Last week, we all took a Thanksgiving break to the beach. Then… when I got back from vacation, THIS was waiting for me!

It's so fluffy!!!

It’s so fluffy!!! In an evil way!

 

Oh, I love it! The paperback cover for Sinister Sweetness, out on January 16! It’s got shiny places, and matte finish places, and it’s a design my goat show kid came up with. I love it to pieces. What do you think?

Now, back to baking. And, um, writing, yes. That too.

Happy December, friends!

 

Famous Authors and Goats: October Shenanigans!

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November 4th, 2013 Posted 7:03 pm

Howdy, friends!

October was a fun month. It started off with a great local event, a winetasting fundraiser for the Dripping Springs Community Library. I emcee’d (a first time for everything!) for special guest, Texas-based singer-songwriter, editor, and author Kasey Lansdale.

 

Kasey Lansdale, editor of Impossible Monsters and me!

Kasey Lansdale, editor of Impossible Monsters – and me! Selfies rule.

 

Next up was the Texas Book Festival. Lynne Kelly, author of the prize-winning MG novel, CHAINED, came to visit me and my goats.

These goats:

Don't worry, Lynne. They don't attack as long as you stare directly into their eyes.

Don’t worry, Lynne. They don’t attack as long as you stare directly into their eyes. Never look away.

I never knew how cute goats could be. Baby goats especially.

Abatha, world's cutest goat

Abatha, world’s cutest goat. Staring at you.

At the Book Festival, I got to hang out at the Writer’s League of Texas tent, watching friends of mine – like Laura Cottam Sajbel, sign their books.

Laura writes fascinating nonfiction! Dive into her new book - the water's fine. :)

Laura writes fascinating nonfiction! Dive into her new book, BUOYANT – the water’s fine. :)

Then, I got to stand around looking important and drinking champagne with Kelly Bennett, author of tons of books, including Vampire Baby and One Day I Went Rambling, winner of the Writer’s League of Texas picture book category book award.

 

Kelly is almost as cute as her book!

Kelly is as cute as her book!

A huge thanks to the Writer’s League for choosing my book as the MG/YA category winner! I already spent the money, of course. But the memories will last a lifetime…

Happy day!

Happy day!

After I was done being Fancy People, I got to hang out with some truly Famous Fancy Ridiculously Talented Authors.

Anne Ursu, Katherine Catmull, and Claire Legrand. A smorgasbord of talent!

Anne Ursu, Katherine Catmull, and Claire Legrand. A smorgasbord of talent!

Claire LEgrand, Heather Terrel, and Me. An authorface sandwich!

Claire Legrand, Heather Terrell, and Me. An authorface sandwich!

Claire signing her latest masterpiece, The Year of Shadows. SO GOOD.

Claire signing her latest masterpiece, The Year of Shadows. SO GOOD.

Also, I got to hang our with a Texas librarian, her lucky duck husband, and her awesome kids!

Also, I got to hang our with a Texas librarian, her lucky duck husband, and her awesome kids!

 

These are the sort of clothes one wears to the Texas Book Festival. :)

These are the sort of clothes one wears to the Texas Book Festival. :)

 

How was YOUR October, friends?

Now, on to November! Home of one of my favorite holidays… mmmm, gravy. :)

 

 

Raising Goats, Writing Novels: It’s Exactly The Same

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September 25th, 2013 Posted 8:49 am

There is a lot I do not know about taking care of goats. A LOT. As the new, confused owner of two Boer goats, I can say with confidence that I did not know goats needed quite so much care! There’s the food, water, shelter, minerals, trailer to haul them, brushes, medicines, clippers, shearing equipment, halters and leads… I’m only mentioning a few of the things here, the list is too long. And I haven’t even begun to talk about the training.

Yes, training. You see, these goats aren’t just ordinary goats: they’re show goats (for my ten year old son, who wants to be an animal scientist when he grows up). And while ordinary goats might be able to get by on some hay, a weedy lot, and a tin can or two, show goats take very special care, handling, and constant attention. My son isn’t just raising these goats to be goats: he’s raising them to be the Best Goats Ever. He doesn’t want them to be good goats – he wants them to be GREAT. “Don’t think you’ll win the shows this year,” he hears when he tells people about his goal. “It’s ridiculously hard to win as a new goat owner. Impossible.” He gets this. But does is change how he handles his goats?

No.

Well, maybe. I think it might make him work harder.

And that, dear friends, is how raising goats is exactly like writing novels for publication. You can choose to write just for yourself – think of those regular goats with the tin cans, happily munching away, not a care in the world. But when you choose to step into the show ring, to send your words out into the world to be judged, to be measured against all the other debut and already-published authors, to be held up against classics and best sellers… you have chosen a much harder path. People will tell you to give up. They will tell you “it shouldn’t be this hard.” They will claim it is impossible.

It’s not. But it is incredibly hard. You might have to get up to feed your writing, like my son does his goats, at 5:45 every morning. You might have to spend hours every day training yourself to be a better writer, knowing it could all be for nothing if the judge happens not to like your goat’s haircut… I mean, your style of writing. There will be a stupendous amount you do not know about writing and publication, and you will have to learn it on your own, or hunt for experts to help you, pay for some of that  help, buy the materials, trim and clip and shear and revise your work until it measures up to the best.

Your goat/novel might never win. But don’t let that change how you treat your writing.

Well, maybe let it make you work harder.

I’m still learning about writing, Every novel is a new challenge, every page a fresh headache some days. Sometimes, when I get really frustrated writing, I head out to the goats. I let them breathe their sweet alfalfa breath on my cheek, feel their soft fur as they encourage me to scratch their backs, watch them jump and run and leap with cute baby goat abandon.

And then I get up, go back inside, and tackle the page again. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. And at the end of the day, I’ll have scenes I can revise tomorrow… and some seriously cute goats who will listen to me read them, even if no one else does.

***

I had two lovely bits of news since my last post! First, the lovely Marisa Schouten did an interview with me for a cooking/family blog called FRESH. It went up last week – and she wrote a recipe for Sinister Sweetness to go with it! Lorelei’s Pear and Marzipan Puff Pastry Galette. (A galette, people. That’s fancy.) I’m cooking it for some writer friends next week – it looks divine.

Also, I am going to be signing copies of my *cough, cough* award-winning book, THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY, at the Texas Book Festival, with the Writer’s League of Texas! The signing will be on Saturday, October 26, probably from noon until 2 pm. I’ll give more details later. Hope to see you there!