Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
October 2nd, 2013 Posted 7:06 am
Every once in a while, I get asked to do an interview, ostensibly so readers can learn more about me. And sometimes, when the questions are perfectly insightful and meaningful and wonderful… I learn more about myself in the process.
This was the very first time I was asked about my first love in an interview, and I answered honestly. Coincidentally – serendipitously? – I am going back to my childhood backyard this very morning, to take a picture of that first love, so I can talk to kids about it when my love story to it comes out next February. A la recherche du temps perdu, indeed…
I hope you go to Kristina Perez‘s glorious blog, The Madeleine Project, and read my interview, or one of the many others she has there. (Isn’t she wonderfully clever to have come up with this idea? Thank you Kristina, for allowing me to answer your lovely questions.)
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?
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!
September 8th, 2013 Posted 8:24 pm
Okay, the names were printed out, cut up, thrown into a bowl, and my kid drew the winner of the Sara Squared Blog Tour… and it is Shelli!
Congratulations, Shelli. You’re going to LOVE these books. I know I did!
And, in Nikki News this week… I may have also won a little thing. (Well, my book won.)
I was jumping for joy! Not only was my book competing against some of my very favorite books published last year (No, seriously, check them out. SO. Good.), but this was an award I used to dream about winning, back before I even had a single finished manuscript to query. Thank you tons and tons, Dear Writer’s League of Texas. You are my favorite ever.
(Oh, my gosh. This means… I am officially an AWARD WINNING AUTHOR. I will have a t-shirt made to commemorate. It will be made of gold threads and unicorn hair. I will wear it until I die.)
So, a very good week! I also finished another draft of my third book, sent it into the
hungry jaws open arms of my agent, and I’m tucking into two manuscripts this week – one to blurb and one for a critique partner.
Oh, and also? Getting back to work on my Wholly Inappropriate YA Delightful Secret Project, which I call Buckets of Blood.
So much to be happy about, so much to look forward to! I hope you’re feeling as unicorn-ish as I am.
July 29th, 2013 Posted 3:38 pm
What is it about Santa Fe? I go there, I get story ideas. I go there with bad story ideas, I get better ones. It’s almost miraculous. I don’t even have to hike out into the desert or meditate or anything. Although that is fun, too.
Hi, friends! I’ve been gone on the world’s most awesome road trip with my family. We drove in my super-sexy minivan from Austin to Palo Duro Canyon, Santa Fe, Taos, Pagosa Springs, and Silverton… where we rode the train and got mooned by 6 people.
Seriously, Silverton/Durango people. Who moons? (Hmm. Good question. Note to self: Possible picture book title. Who Moons?).
Anyway… then we went to Mesa Verde National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest National Park, White Sands, and ended in Fort Davis, Texas.
We did these things on the trip:
Rode a coal-powered steam train down a mountain
Free climbed ENORMOUS boulders (well, okay, not enormous)
Soaked in about 20 natural hot springs
Climbed into a ton of Ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings
Saw Californian condos, elk, wild turkeys, peregrine falcons, golden eagles, hummingbirds by the dozen, mule deer, tarantulas, and so many other things…
Also, did I mention the moonings? My kids will NEVER forget that part.
So. Much. Fun.
But the weirdest part was the revelation in a restaurant in Santa Fe, when I was sitting with my husband, moaning about how my current novel just wasn’t clicking. Over corn chipotle soup and fajitas, it suddenly became perfectly clear to me what was missing. (Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to leave my work on home when on vacation. It just doesn’t work that way for writers. I mean, I guess I could leave my brain at home in a jar or something. Note to self: Write a character who has a brain collection.)
Now, if this had been the first time I’d had a revelation in Santa Fe about a book, I’d think it was a coincidence. But it keeps happening to me, my whole life! I go to New Mexico, I think about writing, I get inspired.
If anyone can explain this, I’ll buy you a sopapilla. Of course, you’ll have to meet me in Santa Fe in August to eat it – I’m going back. This time, I’m going solo, to the amazing AROHO Women’s Writing retreat at Ghost Ranch.
I think, after a week of writing in the desert right outside Santa Fe, I’m going to have a good draft to start tinkering with.
Or who knows? Maybe I’ll get some more story ideas. It is sort of the place for that, for me anyhow.
So, where’s your place, Writer Friends? New York? Sedona? Your back yard? The shower?
I’ll see you in two weeks!
June 27th, 2013 Posted 2:46 pm
I am over-the-moon excited to show you the cover for my next book, NIGHTINGALE’S NEST, today!
Honestly, I had no idea I’d be posting about this so soon. But the lovely folks at Razorbill gave the go-ahead, and I can’t wait to share. This is, after all, the book of my heart, and I think the cover they came up with is stunningly gorgeous.
So… just to delay a bit, let me tell you about the book. Here’s the back cover copy from Amazon:
A powerful novel about friendship and family that calls to mind Bridge to Terabithia
Twelve-year-old John Fischer Jr., or “Little John” as he’s always been known, is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business, clearing brush for Mr. King, the wealthy owner of a chain of Texas dollar stores, when he hears a beautiful song that transfixes him. He follows the melody and finds, not a bird, but a young girl sitting in the branches of a tall sycamore tree.
There’s something magical about this girl, Gayle, especially her soaring singing voice, and Little John’s friendship with Gayle quickly becomes the one bright spot in his life, for his home is dominated by sorrow over his sister’s death and his parents’ ever-tightening financial difficulties.
But then Mr. King draws Little John into an impossible choice—forced to choose between his family’s survival and a betrayal of Gayle that puts her future in jeopardy.
Inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story, Nightingale’s Nest is an unforgettable novel about a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders and a girl with the gift of healing in her voice.
Intrigued? I hope so! Because right after that, right there on the Amazon page, are the BLURBS! I have to admit, when my agent, editor, and I started asking our favorite authors if they would blurb my upcoming book, I’m pretty sure we didn’t expect them all to come back with amazing quotes (any one of which would make an awesome tattoo, if I went in for optional pain).
But they did all write loveliness. Words I read and re-read, feeling as overwhelmed with gratitude as I can ever remember.
Here are some snippets from most of the authors:
“Tugs and tears at the reader’s heart. . . . lovely and magical.”—Bethany Hegedus, author of Truth with a Capital T and Between Us Baxters
“Riveting. . . . This is a book you’ll long remember.”—Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of One for the Murphys
“Loftin’s eye for strange beauty in unexpected places often takes the reader’s breath away.”—Claire Legrand, author of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
“Will haunt your soul—and lift your heart.”—Kimberley Griffiths Little, author of The Healing Spell and The Year the Butterflies Came
“A haunting, beautifully told story!”—Bobbie Pyron, author of The Dogs of Winter and A Dog’s Way Home
“The kind of book I wanted to read slowly.”—Shelley Moore Thomas, author of The Seven Tales of Trinket
“This is a work of tremendous heart.”—Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs
I declare, I may swoon, just seeing them all together like that. All those talented friends and author folk! And they all loved my book! And the longer blurbs (yes, these amazingly talented authors sent LOTS of words) will be in the opening pages of the final book.
Which you can (cough, cough) pre-order on Amazon already, if you do that sort of thing.
Of course, it’s not going to arrive until February 20, so you may have to stare at the picture of the cover, and re-read those blurbs obsessively until that day. Or maybe that’s just me. (And yes, you too, Mom.)
Oh, the cover? Is it time to show you the COVER? It was created by Japanese genius Tsuji Megumi, if you’d like to know, who may or may not be a magical creature from the land of Perfect Art. So, so talented.
Drum roll please…
I love it all. The girl, the leaf letters, the colors, the mood… Definitely time to swoon.
So, what do YOU think?
June 20th, 2013 Posted 9:02 pm
When: June 24th thru July 1st
Why: For a chance to win lots of cool promotional items signed by 42 of today’s best middle grade and young adult authors!
Win? Did you say WIN?
1- hardbound copy of THE UNWANTEDS signed by author Lisa McMann
1- TEST TASTE charm bracelet
1- TOUCHING THE SURFACE T-shirt
1 – LOVE AND LEFTOVERS charm necklace
1 – SEND ME A SIGN guitar pick
1 – paperback copy of EVERTASTER: THE BUTTERSMITH’S GOLD signed by author Adam Sidwell
1- hardbound copy of THE SCORCH TRIALS signed by author James Dashner
1- hardbound copy of THE ALWAYS WARS signed by author Margaret Peterson Haddix
1 – OyMG! T-shirt
1 – Original Artwork Print from FISHTALE signed by author Catherine Masciola
1- LOSING IT water bottle signed by author Erin Fry
1 – hardbound copy of LOSING IT signed by the author
June 2nd, 2013 Posted 7:04 pm
Oklahoma is having some real troubles, y’all. I know lots of people may want to help, but don’t know what to do. Here’s one quick and easy way you can donate to American Red Cross Disaster Relief to help out – and you might even win one of the amazing books a whole bunch of authors have donated!
Click here to check out the amazing, generous, talented, and all around lovely Kate Messner’s blog post for directions to donate and be entered in the drawing. You can contribute $10 or up! You might win my book… or one of many dozens of others.
And let’s all keep Oklahoma in our thoughts. <3
Posted in Miscellaneous
May 28th, 2013 Posted 3:13 pm
Sorry for the slight delay on the winner announcement. I was enjoying the Memorial Day weekend with the kids… one of whom just drew a name out of a hat (okay, a popcorn bucket). And the winner of the new copy of POISON by Bridget Zinn is…
Hooray, Shelli! I know you’ll love this book. Shoot me an email and I’ll mail it to you.
Now, back to the New Novel. Have I ever told you people how much I love writing about magic?
Posted in Miscellaneous
May 13th, 2013 Posted 12:39 pm
A few years ago, when I was going through the process of looking for an agent and then an editor, I started noticing some names popping up over and over again on the websites and twitter feeds I haunted. (I’m pretty sure most of us do that — wannabe authors, I mean. We form a sort of virtual worldwide community, bonded together by the adversity of rejection and – finally, maybe – by success!)
One of the other authors I noticed, just about on the same career trajectory I was following, was Bridget Zinn.
I didn’t know much about her until I saw a tweet with her name in it. She had gotten her book deal, it turned out!
But the tweet was about a fundraiser. Because in the middle of all her great writing-related news, Bridget had also learned something else. She had cancer.
Her smiling face prompted me to bid on items in a silent auction to help with her medical bills. I offered up prayers and thoughts of healing for this smiling woman I’d never met – because I did know her, in a way. I knew her hopes and dreams were the same as mine, her path very similar. We were both almost there, almost to the shining moment of seeing our books on the shelves, our names on the spines, our stories in the hands of young readers.
And then Bridget, the effervescent librarian, writer, and new member of the kidlit tribe, died.
She would have been an Apocalypsie, a member of the supportive group of debut kidlit authors whose first books were slated to come out in the 2012 (the supposed end of the world, according to Mayan calendars). Her book was delayed a bit, understandably, and it came out in March of this year.
And it’s fantastic. POISON, her debut YA fantasy, is delightfully funny and fast-paced, the exact sort of book I buy for my myriad nephews and nieces. The sort of book kids fall in love with and hand around to all their friends at school.
When Bridget’s cousin asked me to take part in the Austin leg of POISON’s national book tour, at the amazing local indie bookstore, Bookpeople, I was honored and excited. A whole group of Austin authors came together to help launch Bridget’s book, to celebrate for her. To celebrate her.
I have given copies of her amazing book to libraries in Texas and Japan – and I’ll probably keep giving them! I adore this book.
But the copy I got at the Austin signing - filled with the names of Austin authors and a stamped signature of Bridget’s - means something more to me. I keep it near my writing desk for a reason. On those days when I feel like surfing the Internet or eating my weight in M&Ms instead of writing, seeing Bridget’s book reminds me that we don’t know how much time we have to fulfill our dreams. And when I open it, and see the names of the writers who came to support her life, and her work, I remember I’m not alone, no matter how solitary the writing life can feel.
The world is filled with stories to write, moments to savor them, and friends to help celebrate every step on the journey. And if we’re lucky, books like Bridget’s can fill that journey with laughter and delight.
If you would like a special signed copy from the Austin launch of POISON, they can be purchased from Bookpeople directly.
I’d like to invite you to celebrate Bridget’s life, her book, and the community of authors that launched her debut novel by giving away a copy of POISON. If you would like to enter, leave a comment about someone who has inspired you (A writer? A teacher?). Comments will be accepted until May 24, midnight CST. Names will be printed out, placed in a hat, and the winner drawn by my ten-year-old kid. (Let’s not get too fancy, people.) If the winner does not respond within 48 hours with a valid email address to the contest notification posted on my blog, another name will be drawn until someone who’s paying attention wins!
Oh, and North America only for this, please. Good luck!
May 6th, 2013 Posted 12:21 pm
I’m back, just to show a couple of pictures from recent events, and share a couple of things I read that I thought were amazing.
First, I’ve been having fun – writing, yes, but also doing some short talks, interviews, and school visits!
I did a Skype school visit with a wonderful group of kids in Manor ISD, and their lovely librarian Micheal Harper. Thanks, Ms. Harper, for bringing me into your library and letting me chat with those great kids!
I had a lovely time last week presenting to the Austin/Houston Society of Layerists and Multimedia artists on creativity and not giving up. I spoke, signed books, and had an excellent brunch as well. Thanks, gals. (Here are a few of the members with me!)
A few days ago, I had the chance to present to a lovely group of kids at the Austin Jewish Academy’s book fair. Some of the kids in the audience were quite young, so I toned down the scary bits… but I don’t think they would have cared! I also talked about other books I’ve loved recently that were for sale at the fair: One For The Murphys, The False Prince, Gustav Gloom and the Peopletakers, The One and Only Ivan, and more. I love seeing kids get excited about books, don’t you?
Here I am with Sharyn Vane, the liaison who invited me to the AJA:
And now for a couple of very good things! First, if you are a teacher or librarian, you’ve probably heard about Claire Legrand’s book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Well, she’s giving away TEN copies to celebrate the paperback launch! So hop on over to her blog and enter. I adore this book!
Next, the lovely Rebecca Behrens (author of the 2014 debut WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE), singled out my dear Principal Trapp on her “favorite villain” post on a new website for MG books. Thanks All For One and One Four Kidlit, and Rebecca, too!
I adore this post by the Penderwicks author Jeanne Birdsall. Touching, lovely, and so true. Books really do save lives – and childhoods.
Now, it’s back to the page for me. I’m a busy bee these days, and I gotta make the honey. Write well, friends!
Next up: School visits at Oak Hill and Wooldridge Elementaries, and… oh, did I mention? I’m going back to the AROHO Writing Retreat/Conference at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico this August! WOOHOO!