Nikki Loftin

Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

An Early/Late Christmas Gift: Nightingale’s Nest ARC Giveaway!


December 16th, 2013 Posted 8:37 am

In early December, I found out something rather remarkable, to me anyway.

My next book, Nightingale’s Nest – you know that one I wrote a couple of years ago, and knew no one would publish (too quiet, too weird, too Texan, too literary)? But I had to write it anyway, because it was demanding to be written, and I couldn’t rest until I had done it? That book I loved so much, it made all my other books jealous? :)

That book got THIS. A STAR!!!

Turns out, Kirkus didn’t think Nest was too weird. They thought it was (an) “Unusual, finely crafted story of loss, betrayal and healing.”

Cover for Nightingale's Nest

Pretty much made my Christmas merry and bright!

So, to celebrate, I’m doing a giveaway of one Advance Reader Copy of Nightingale’s Nest. All you have to do is leave a comment here – “Merry Christmas” will do just fine! (And put your email address, too, so I can notify you if you win!) *Bonus: If you leave your favorite Christmas memory/tradition/story in the comments, I’ll give you TWO entries.

Then I’ll have my kid draw a name on Christmas Eve, and mail the winner a late Christmas gift on Boxing Day (12/26). Merry Christmas! May your skies and eyes be filled with wonder… and stars. :)


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. :)



Thoughts on the Texas Book Festival, Daydreaming, & Writerly Terror

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October 22nd, 2013 Posted 8:17 pm

The Texas Book Festival is upon us! Flee, flee! No, wait. Don’t flee.* Unless you’re running off to the official site to decide whether to see R. L Stine, Lemony Snicket, Sherman Alexie, Katherine Applegate, Anne Ursu, Claire Legrand… oh, mercy, I’ll never have time to see them all! But, by the power of coffee, I will TRY!

And if you’re there, and happen to want some champagne (and maybe a signed book? Full of scariness and sweets?), I will also be appearing at the Writer’s League of Texas booth (#415) from 12-2 pm on Saturday, as one of the winners of the WLT Book Awards. This is totally cool, and I am super-excited. But please don’t leave me alone at the booth, dear ones. I will have chocolate for you if you visit me. :)

Now, on to other topics. I started a new book yesterday. Um, no not the one I said I was going to start working on last time. (Pesky good intentions and all…) I got to daydreaming, and came up with this idea for a Middle Grade novel that will be funny… and ultimately tragic… and as controversial as anything I can think of.

I won’t tell you what it’s about. Let’s just say, it hasn’t been done yet, as far as I know. (I WILL call my Friend Who Knows All Kidlit Things soon and ask her if she’s read one like it, of course. Due diligence, yadda yadda.)

I wrote pages of it yesterday and today, and I keep thinking “they’re not going to let me do this.”  (“They” being the People in New York who get to decide. My husband also thinks this may be the case, so I’m not being 100% paranoid.)

But the thing is, I don’t write for publication all the time. When it comes down to it, even if a manuscript goes nowhere, I still had the excitement and experience of writing it.

When it comes down to it, this is one of the stories I have to tell, taken both from my own deep dark past and our messed-up American present. I can’t NOT tell it. The protagonist of this one? Is pretty much me, aged ten. Kid Nikki wants me to tell this one.

So, I will.

But it terrifies me, a bit. Of course, I’ve come to enjoy the feeling. It’s like a literary roller coaster that I keep strapping myself into, no seat belts installed in the carriages, no operator to pull the brake…

It’s close my eyes and go time.

Write well, friends, and remember to let yourselves be a little terrified.

And Happy Halloween!

* I was thinking of what I do every time SXSW hits town. Stayin’ safe out here in the boondocks…

My First Love Was a Tree: The Madeleine Project

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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.)



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


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!






We Have A Winner! (And My Book Is One, Too!)


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.

The Writing Magic of Santa Fe


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?).

Oh, look, a train! Oh, look a gorgeous countryside! Oh, look, hairy butts!

Oh, look, a train! Oh, look a gorgeous countryside! Oh, look, hairy butts!

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:

White-water rafted

Whitewater kayaked

Rode a coal-powered steam train down a mountain

Free climbed ENORMOUS boulders (well, okay, not enormous)

Went caving

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!

The Grand Canyon, which was just grand.

The Grand Canyon, which was just grand.

Nightingale’s Nest Has a Cover!


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:

PRAISE FOR NIGHTINGALE’S NEST:“An extraordinary read—I had to tear myself away from it.”—Katherine Catmull, author of Summer and Bird“Perfectly captures the challenges of growing up and dealing with loss. Get ready to have your heart touched.”—Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities

“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…

Cover for Nightingale's Nest


I love it all. The girl, the leaf letters, the colors, the mood… Definitely time to swoon.

So, what do YOU think? :)


Super Swag Sunday Coming Soon!

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June 20th, 2013 Posted 9:02 pm


The 2nd Annual

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?


Every day for seven days, Laurisa’s blog will spotlight some of the most amazing new books for kids and teens! Monday thru Saturday visitors will be able to enter for chances to win one of 6 swag packs containing everything from signed bookmarks and postcards, to pins, pencils, totebags, stickers, key chains, lip balm, charms and more!
On the last day, SUPER SWAG SUNDAY, one last MEGA SWAG PACK will be given to one very lucky winner! This pack so far includes everything listed above PLUS:

1- hardbound copy of THE UNWANTEDS signed by author Lisa McMann
1- TEST TASTE charm bracelet
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

And more prizes are still being added to the pile!

So be sure to stop by every day from June 24th thru July 1st for plenty of chances to win. Stop by now and follow the blog to receive notifications of when the event starts posting.

See you then!

Kidlit Cares for Oklahoma: Donate Today!


June 2nd, 2013 Posted 7:04 pm

Hi, friends!

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