Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
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.
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.
Now, back to writing. And preparing for the Launch of NEST! Or a nap. Hmmmm. Which one should I do first?
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!
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:
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!
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 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.
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…
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.”
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.
November 4th, 2013 Posted 7:03 pm
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.
Next up was the Texas Book Festival. Lynne Kelly, author of the prize-winning MG novel, CHAINED, came to visit me and my goats.
I never knew how cute goats could be. Baby goats especially.
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.
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.
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…
After I was done being Fancy People, I got to hang out with some truly Famous Fancy Ridiculously Talented Authors.
How was YOUR October, friends?
Now, on to November! Home of one of my favorite holidays… mmmm, gravy.
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…
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.