Nikki Loftin

Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

TLA 2014: A Starry-Eyed Writer Reports Back

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April 14th, 2014 Posted 11:49 am

Oh, the wonder that is the Texas Library Association’s mammoth annual conference! I only had two days there this week (due to other conferences I will blog about soon, which were also superb), but in those two days I lived a lifetime.

Okay, well I picked up enough books to LAST a lifetime anyway. :) And met some amazing people, and saw some dear friends. Here’s a string of pictures, in case you are curious as to who exactly goes to these things…

Debut YA author Sara Kocek signing her wonderful book!

Debut YA author Sara Kocek signing her wonderful book!

I snagged an ARC of Varian Johnson's new MG, The Great Green Heist!

I snagged an ARC of Varian Johnson’s new MG, The Great Green Heist!

I attempted to take a respectable selfie of me and author/illustrator Don Tate, but Kari Anne Holt and Ruth McNally Barshaw photobombed us.

I attempted to take a respectable selfie of me and author/illustrator Don Tate, but Kari Anne Holt and Ruth McNally Barshaw photobombed us.

The utterly lovely Cynthia Leitich Smith busy at one of her signings!

The utterly lovely Cynthia Leitich Smith busy at one of her signings!

A new friend! Author of Fat Angie, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo.

A new friend! Author of Fat Angie, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo.

Oh, the company I keep! Here's a quick snap of the panel I sat on: Deb Caletti, Leila Howland, Jennifer E. Smith, and Elizabeth Eulberg. They were wonderful!

Oh, the company I keep! Here’s a quick snap of the panel I sat on: Deb Caletti, Leila Howland, Jennifer E. Smith, and Elizabeth Eulberg. They were wonderful!

Fun! I got to meet an agent-sister, Cora Carmack, who writes the spiciness. :)

Fun! I got to meet an agent-sister, Cora Carmack, who writes the spiciness. :)

Victoria Scott and Greg Leitich Smith signing at the Texas Book Festivals booth.

Victoria Scott and Greg Leitich Smith signing at the Texas Book Festivals booth.

I snagged a copy of Bethany Hegedus' newest, Grandfather Gandhi. So good...

I snagged a copy of Bethany Hegedus’ newest, Grandfather Gandhi. So good…

A very blurry picture, as we were at fancy schmancy dinner - but here is the truly gifted author Jacqueline Woodson. A highlight of the week was spending time with her.

A very blurry picture, as we were at fancy schmancy dinner – but here is the truly gifted author Jacqueline Woodson. A highlight of the week was spending time with her.

And the most fun aprt of all? Spending time with rock star librarians like Diane Collier! Oh, the conversations we had, the jokes we made, the blisters we wore on our heels hiking around the convention center for days...

And the most fun aprt of all? Spending time with rock star librarians like Diane Collier! Oh, the conversations we had, the jokes we made, the blisters we wore on our heels hiking around the convention center for days…

 

And that was my two-day TLA recap in photos! It was a great week. Speaking of which, I should probably go write up a  post about that other starred review now…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Writers Guild Conference and Other Loveliness!

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March 30th, 2014 Posted 8:05 am

Hi, friends!

I am the very busiest of bees these days, with all sorts of conferences coming up! First off, I am going to be doing an author signing (and sing and tap dance, or whatever they have planned for me) at the American Booksellers’ Children’s Institute in San Antonio on April 7.

I’m sort of overwhelmed at the number of Nikki’s Favorite Authors who will be there, and it is ALL I can do not to take a suitcase full of books to get signed by them. But I have to remember, I am technically one of the fancy people at this, and I have to act cool.

Oh, wow, I wish I knew how to be even slightly cool.

Even more challenging (considering my lack of coolness) will be the Texas Library Association’s annual meeting (also in San Antonio), that same week! If you’re there, you can find me signing books in the exhibit hall on Thursday, April 10, with a panel appearance at 2 pm. (I’m also going to some Very Fancy Dinners, and I MUST remember my table manners. Thank goodness for the Texas YA Round Table’s margarita night. I never have to remind myself which fork goes with nachos.)

And then…. the super fun begins. That very Saturday, April 12 (MY BIRTHDAY BY THE WAY), I will be the keynote speaker at one of my favorite places in Texas – the Houston Writers’ Guild Annual Conference!

I have prepared a speech that will have people laughing so hard – at me – that certain necessary bodily functions may be compromised. As you all know, I have no shame. Attendees of this conference will find out exactly how little shame that is, when I read from my very earliest drafts of… Azrael’s Redemption, an unfinished novel about a Scottish lass and a fallen angel who, um… can’t get it up. And I’m not talking about flying here.

It is some of the worst writing in the history of words. (And also, given his “problem,” lacking a crucial aspect of that thing steamy romances are pretty much required to have.)

I’m also teaching a 45 minute query workshop there, so if you’re getting close to sending something to an agent or editor – or even writing back cover copy for your book -  you should probably be there as well!

Some very lovely news regarding reviews for Nightingale’s Nest is about to come out, so I’ll post back in a day or three when I can share. Until then? I’m writing again, strangely NOT on my middle grade WIP! Up until midnight last night, swept away by the gruesome YA I started last year. I’m ready to finish it! Or it’s ready. I think it will be strange, and frightening, and very, very different from my other books. But the story has captivated me again, and I must finish it. MUST.

Happy Writing, Friends!

Links to Internet Loveliness:

A 5,4,3,2,1 Blog Post on Colby Sharp’s blog about Nightingale’s Nest. I loved writing this interview!

A VERY COOL Advanced Writing Workshop at the Writing Barn in Austin, with Jo Knowles and Robin Wasserman. This looks stunning: Discovering the Beating Heart of Your Book.

Nightingale’s Nest: Your Questions Answered (Soon)

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March 23rd, 2014 Posted 9:18 pm

Okay y’all, so I’m doing this really cool thing (way too cool for old-fashioned me) this Tuesday afternoon, from 4-5 pm CDT, over at the Penguin Young Authors Early Word page! I’ll be joining superstars Lisa Von Drasek and Nora Rawlinson for a chat about any and all Nightingale’s Nest-related things. It’s a chat for librarians, so this invitation is for those folks. (But aren’t we all librarians, deep in our darkest fantasies? I know I am.)

Okay, the truth is? I’ll probably answer ANY questions you/they throw at me. So, if you feel you are a librarian, and you feel it would be fun to ask me awkward questions, or even just normal ones, please show up! I will love you forever, in my deep librarian-soul.

You can even leave a question in advance here …. do it. You know you want to.

Posted in Miscellaneous

World Read Aloud Day 2014: Share the Love!

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March 5th, 2014 Posted 9:00 am

Last year I participated for the first time in Kate Messner‘s author sign-up for World Read-Aloud Day. I had so much fun, I couldn’t wait for it to come back around – and here it is! Happy World Read-Aloud Day, friends. I’ll be Skypeing with classes from all over America – Wisconsin, Illinois, and all over Texas!

I hope you take some time today to read out loud to someone you love (it can be a dog or a goat, anyone, really). And maybe you could even take a few seconds to tell someone who thinks they/their kids are “too old” for reading aloud that you never outgrow the magic of stories.

You just forget.

I hope you all remember today that dizzy, thrummy, glorious feeling of being loved, paid attention to, cared for… read to.  And share it with someone else. What would the world be like if, instead of arguing/bickering/fighting, we read aloud to one another those books that changed us, formed us, made us into the people we are?

Happy reading, friends!

WRAD-369x400

Nightingale’s Nest Launch Party and Blog Tour Updates

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February 24th, 2014 Posted 7:44 pm

Oh, friends, I am one tired little bird.

But it’s  the lovely kind of tired you get from having one of your life’s great dreams come true, so I am NOT complaining! I am happy tired.

I spent the weekend planning for and throwing two parties for the release of my novel, Nightingale’s Nest. The first one was at phenomenal indie Austin bookstore, Bookpeople, and I was utterly overwhelmed by the number of friends and family who came out to help launch this book.

Nightingales_Nest_Launch-7929-L

My agent, Suzie Townsend, flew down from New York, and friends and librarian-friends drove in from places as far as San Antonio, Houston, Hico and Waco, to attend. What a gift!

My agent and me!

My agent and me!

 

I gave a talk that included thanking the teachers I named in my book. A highlight of the event was being able to tell the world (or at least 200+ members of it) about these glorious teachers, and how transformational they are in the lives of their students.

One of the best: Mrs. Hilsabeck, my Senior English teacher

One of the best: Mrs. Hilsabeck, my Senior English teacher

Two more of the special guests/teachers, and some lovely friends!

Two more of the special guests/teachers, and some lovely friends!

 

There was cake, cookies, tons of other foods and drinks, nests to be built, and a dear face painter friend, Melissa Morgan of Woo Who, who did some of the most gorgeous birds and feathers I’ve ever seen!

Melissa hard at work transforming children into birds!

Melissa hard at work transforming children into birds!

I signed tons of books, and then raced over to the Writing Barn for a writer party, thrown to say thank you to the incredible Austin kidlit community for helping me find my way into my life’s work.

(Need more pics? Check out Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Event Recap! Thanks, Cyn!)

Now, the fun is over… and the new work is beginning! I have the first few chapters of my super secret project started, and I’m sending revisions back and forth on WISH GIRL to my editor, and I have some conferences and school visits, and it’s all glorious and good.

What bliss! What a gift it is to have good work that you love, and the chance to celebrate that work with your friends.

Thank you, friends.

Now, today’s blog tour stop is at the amazing Charlotte’s Library blog. She has posted an excerpt, a giveaway, and an incredibly thoughtful review. I love reviews – and I’d love to hear what any of you have to say about Nightingale’s Nest, when and if you get to The End!

 

 

 

 

 

Literary Love Fest, Anyone?

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February 12th, 2014 Posted 1:03 pm

The MoCo Book Festival, aka The Sweetest Valentine Party in Texas!

The MoCo Book Festival, aka The Sweetest Valentine Party in Texas!

 

Come out and join me (oh, and also some incredibly famous author types – just don’t get in my way when I’m trying to get their autographs, okay?) at the MoCo Book Festival this weekend! I’ll have some free copies of my books to give away during my panel, and I’ll be signing and hanging out with kids and teens the rest of the day.

So, have a Happy Valentine’s Day! And don’t forget – books make the very best Valentine’s gifts. :)

If the Question is SCBWI, the Answer is YES.

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February 9th, 2014 Posted 1:32 pm

I just spent a day and a half in the company of some of the most talented, resourceful, creative, highly-skilled writers and illustrators in Texas (although some of them were from the Northeast, Oklahoma, California, etc., drawn into the vortex of awesomeness that is the Austin SCBWI). I learned so much, and met so many people who are working on so many cool projects, I can’t even start on the list here. But a few highlights of the Austin Annual SCBWI Conference were:

1. Matt de la Pena‘s incredibly raw, funny, inspirational keynote speech. He gave everything form great life advice to great writing advice. (Here’s one, re: success: “As a writer, you always want more. That can make you crazy, or you can just own it, and go write the best book you can.”)

2. Sitting on a great School Visits panel with rockstar authors Don Tate, Liz Garton Scanlon, and P. J. Hoover. The new “pro track” at this years’ conference was extremely helpful for soon-to-be or recently published authors. I predict this track will grow and start to attract more established authors from farther away, if they keep the level of programming going. (I WISH I’d been able to hear the talk we gave when I was first starting out! Would have been hugely helpful.)

3. Meeting new writers from the area, and critiquing some amazing manuscripts. Always one of the highlights of any conference – laying eyes on old and new friends, and on new writing! So much fun.

4. Sitting in on Liz Garton Scanlon’s Rhyming Picture Book Workshop. Except now I might start doing that. I’m not sure that would be in anyone’s best interest. Maybe I should go lie down and press a cool, damp cloth on my rhyme-fevered brow. :)

It was, as always, a lovely conference, run by some of the very best volunteers in the business. Hooray for Austin SCBWI!

So, if the question is “Should I join SCBWI?” The answer is YES!

And if you want to join, there are monthly meetings – you don’t have to wait until next year’s conference.

Extra Loveliness:

Austin author and NYT best-seller Chris Barton is doing a short interview and giveaway of a signed copy of Nightingale’s Nest! Click here, and scroll down to sign up in the big yellow box. Thanks, Chris!

Brittney Breakey over at Author Turf has an interview up where I share the naughtiest thing I ever did in school, and what I would change about Nightingale’s Nest if I could! Brittney, what is it about your blog that I always overshare? Ah, regret. :)

And Publisher’s Weekly has a review up for Nightingale’s Nest as well. Yay!

Now, back to writing. And preparing for the Launch of NEST! Or a nap. Hmmmm. Which one should I do first?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…….

Happy Birthday to When Audrey Met Alice!

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February 4th, 2014 Posted 6:43 am

A few months back, I had the great pleasure or reading a debut novel written by someone I’ve only met on Twitter, Rebecca Behrens. She seemed super lovely, and I had my fingers crossed that I’d like her book.

I loved it! I even ended up blurbing it, and I’m so excited to let you all know that it comes out today. *cue confetti*

I’ll post the copy from Goodreads below the cover, but if you think you’d like a quirky, fun, fresh combination of historical and realistic middle grade fiction? Buy this one!

Book Cover of When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens

The Description:

First daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned for Friday night. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute-citing security breach and squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is being “safe and secure” if you can’t have any fun?

Audrey is ready to give up and become a White House hermit, until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former first daughter gives Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun…and more problems than she can handle.

And here’s what I said about it:

“Rebecca Behrens combines charming and quirky characters from two different centuries, creating a believable, engaging story that tugs at the heart and tickles the funny bone.”
(That sounds intelligent and blurbish, don’t you think? I’m always afraid I’ll just blubber “like so much, likey like like, love it” and make a hash of it all. Blurbing is scary.)

***

In other news, I’m on the faculty of the Austin SCBWI annual conference taking place this weekend! It’s possible there’s still a space or two left. This is a great place to learn the ropes – and there’s a super exciting pro track this year, too! I’d love to see some of y’all there.

And if you’re from the Houston area, don’t forget to come to the Montgomery County Book Festival on February 15th. We’re going to have an amazing time.

Now, I THINK I’m supposed to be revising something. *gulp* Back to the cave. See you in a week or so!

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.

 

Nightingale’s Nest ARC Winners! (Yes, two!)

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December 25th, 2013 Posted 9:23 am

Merry Christmas! And an especially merry one to Erica and Lori, whose names were drawn by my eleven year-old son to win copies of my next book! (Now, you both need to send me your email addresses. :) )

(I know, I was only going to give away one copy, but I’m feeling the spirit of Christmas this morning.)

Lori and Erica, I hope you enjoy Nightingale’s Nest. And anyone else who entered, didn’t win, but would still like some swag? I will send stickers to you if you email me your snail mail address.

Ho ho ho! Now, off to wrestle that Hyperbole and a Half book away from my teenager…