Nikki Loftin

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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: Lovely Review/Lovely ARC Edition

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July 21st, 2014 Posted 3:55 pm

Okay, I lied. I didn’t blog every day last week. I took the weekend off.

I will make it up to you with this picture of my newest baby ARCs!!!

Oh, happy day! I am so excited to send this one out in the world. Oh, and terrified. Also incredibly terrified.

Oh, happy day! I am so excited to send this one out in the world. Oh, and terrified. Also incredibly terrified.

The blurbs on the ARC cover from Francisco X. Stork, Laurel Snyder, and Natalie Lloyd make me go all smooshy inside. They are the loveliest.

And now I will also share some lovely words the International Reading Association’s Reading Today Online has to say about Nightingale’s Nest.

I particularly liked the words “brilliant” and “Loftin’s masterful craft.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for more cute vacation pictures… and another Exciting Event!

Exciting Events: Bookworks Launch Party in Albuquerque with Kimberley Griffiths Little!

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July 17th, 2014 Posted 2:46 pm

Oh my goodness.

This one is for anyone who lives near Albuquerque, New Mexico, or who knows anyone living near there. Or who feels like driving/flying/hang gliding there for an awesome event. :)

On Saturday, August 2, at 10:30 am, I will have the GREAT pleasure of talking about Nightingale’s Nest alongside (the utterly charming and tremendously talented) Kimberley Griffiths Little – who will be launching HER next middle grade book, The Time of the Fireflies. This will be a launch party for the ages. Goodie bags, refreshments, book signing, and PRIZES! (And possibly a creepy, haunted doll or two… Yes, sweet, lovely Kimberley wrote a wonderful book that happens to include one of my greatest fears.)

I cannot express how much I love this woman's books! Magic, creepy dolls, friends, and family... they're exquisite.

I cannot express how much I love this woman’s books! Magic, creepy dolls, friends, and family… they’re exquisite.

I think this calls for a double dose of cuteness. How about this:

A puffin AND a baby bunny. Try not to be overwhelmed by the cuteness. I know, I know. Not possible.

A puffin AND a baby bunny. Try not to be overwhelmed by the cuteness. I know, I know. Not possible.

So, tell your Albuquerque friends! I promise Kimberley and I will be puffin-and-baby-bunny awesome.

 

So Much Awesomeness: Galindo Elementary Style

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May 2nd, 2014 Posted 3:17 pm

Oh. My. Goodness.

I just had one of the most amazing school author visits in the history of school, authors, or visits.

I was invited last year to come to Galindo Elementary in Austin, by the amazing uber-librarian, Diane Collier. They had something special planned for their spring author visit, she explained.
Every fourth and fifth grader in the school was going to get a free copy of the paperback of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, courtesy of donations from their PTA and the South Austin Rotary club.

Look, shiny new paperbacks!

Look, shiny new paperbacks!

I went in one day early to sign the books. Almost 200 of them. It took an hour and a half. I didn’t care, and my hand wasn’t sore. It was happy.

Happiness is signing books for hours. Yes it is!

Happiness is signing books for hours. Yes it is!

When I got to the school the next morning, they had reserved my parking space.

The best part? This was the PRINCIPAL'S parking spot! I felt ridiculously fancy.

The best part? This was the PRINCIPAL’S parking spot! I felt ridiculously fancy.

And when I walked into the library, I was overwhelmed. Two of the fifth grade English classes had read my book in advance, and done all sorts of art displays with them – on character, theme, comparisons to the original fairy tale and a movie version, and more.

There's no witches? Darn.

There’s no witches? Darn.

I love this.

I love this.

Also, Ms. Morrigan looks kind of like me in a bad mood.

Also, Ms. Morrigan looks kind of like me in a bad mood.

This poster almost makes me love themes!

This poster almost makes me love themes!

How cool is this?

How cool is this?

Can you tell I have a librarian crush on this woman? :)

Can you tell I have a librarian crush on this woman? :)

 

The librarian had decorated with candy and cards… and a present for me. :)

Note to self: write all future books about food.

Note to self: write all future books about food.

Not that I needed a present. But, A PRESENT!!!

Not that I needed a present. But, A PRESENT!!!

 

And then the kids arrived, dressed like their favorite characters from the book, and carrying pretend and real candy.

I wish I could show you pictures of the cute kids! But privacy, etc. Use your imaginations. :)

I wish I could show you pictures of the cute kids! But privacy, etc. Use your imaginations. :)

It was utterly amazing.

I wish every school could have a librarian, a PTA, a community like Galindo’s! Visiting there was a dream come true for me.

A dream full of books and wonderful librarians.

A dream full of books and wonderful librarians.

And the amazingness doesn’t stop there. Because, as you can see in this picture Diane sent me that she took the day after the event, the school got very quiet… because kids were reading, reading, reading.

A dream come true.

Thank you, Galindo Elementary, for letting me meet your dreamers!

###

Guess what? Interview time is here! I had the pleasure of answering questions for a spot on the Operation Awesome blog, and here’s the link. Come on, you know you want to know my deep, dark secrets. Well, possibly not that dark. But important. :) Check it out!

The Very Best Writing Advice

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April 16th, 2014 Posted 12:25 pm

I just came back from the Houston Writer’s Guild Annual Conference. It was wonderful. I shocked everyone in the morning with my hilariously inappropriate keynote (and can I say, thank goodness the audio recording was turned off? Now the rest of the world will have to imagine how inappropriate I got.), and then did a query workshop in the afternoon.

A selfie from the evening party, me with HWG President Pamela Hutchins. She's a bundle of energy!

A selfie from the evening party, me with HWG President Pamela Hutchins. She’s a bundle of energy!

In between sessions, people came up to me asking for writing advice. I never know what to say – where you are on your writing journey really decides which bit of advice will be most helpful. But I read this article today, at The Storyteller’s Inkpot, by Jane Resh Thomas, and I think it might be the best, most helpful, succinct writing advice I’ve seen in a long while. 

Do what she says, and you’ll rock it.

Oh, also! In Nightingale’s Nest news, the first line of that very book was one of those featured in the Publisher’s Weekly Shelftalker blog here! Very cool.

And, as promised, here’s some of the text to the starred review for NEST from the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books!  And a link to it, if you’re curious. :)

Magical realism meets coming of age in this sensitive and haunting novel, with the relentless, eroding effects of family tragedy in full relief. Sympathetic but not saccharine, Loftin’s portrayal of Little John, with his tremendous sense of responsibility and his unflagging feeling of guilt, as well as his need for love and acceptance, will resonate with readers who carry life’s burdens. The otherworldly Gayle will captivate their imaginations as she flutters in and out of reach … but it’s Little John who will capture their hearts. Read this aloud and have both boys and girls alike utterly enraptured.

UTTERLY ENRAPTURED, do you hear? Oh my gosh, I’m gonna go faint now.

Write well, friends!

 

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 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!

 

 

 

 

 

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…….