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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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!
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!
Happy Book Launch Week to you! (What, you say it’s not YOUR book launch week? That”s okay, I’ll share MINE.) I’m planning to celebrate with cookies, champagne, and a Blog Tour!
I’m super excited that Erica at The Book Cellar has a post up today with not only a giveaway of Nightingale’s Nest, but also the first excerpt from the book! So, hop on over and enter.
Then, if you’re a bird lover, go check out the lovely review of NEST on Jeannette Larson’s Bird Brainz blog.
You can still enter Chris Barton’s Bartography Express giveaway, too. Hmm. At this point, none of you may actually need to BUY this book. JUST KIDDING. I want you all to do just like my sister does, and buy enough copies to build a raised bed garden out of them.
Not enough for ya? Check back tomorrow… there will be MORE.
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.
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.
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?
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:
“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!
One of my favorite parts of being a mom is reading aloud to my kids. Even on the worst days, a good bedtime story (or lunchtime story, whatever) makes everything sparkly and wonderful. And you know what one of my favorite parts of being a writer is, especially while doing school visits?
You guessed it: reading aloud.
So when I learned last year that there’s such a thing as World Read Aloud Day, and that the amazing powerhouse author Kate Messner had a sign-up for authors to read from their books to classrooms across the country on that day, and that *I* could be one of those authors??? That led to one of the most fun writerly days ever. I Skyped with classrooms in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, and beyond. (Beyond=I forget where else.) It was super fun!
And it’s coming back again, on March 5. So, make sure to read out loud to someone that day – your kid, spouse, friend, gerbil – and if you’re a teacher, principal, or librarian? Don’t wait! Contact me or one of the other authors on Kate’s amazing list to get a FREE Skype visit for your group of kids.
It’ll make everything sparkly and wonderful, I promise.
Picture Book Ideas for World Read-Aloud Day (tested on my kids):
1. Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
2. Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas
3. Battle Bunny by Mac Barnett and Jon Scieska.
What stories do YOU recommend?
PS – The winner of my paperback was Christine Sarmel! Congratulations! Send me your physical address and the book will be on its way.
Hooray! It’s the release day for my debut novel in paperback. I’m so excited – I love the thought that more kids might be able to read my (slightly? extremely?) creepy fairy tale retelling. To attract new readers, my awesome publisher decided to give it a new cover. (And the artist Gilbert Ford, had done some of my most favorite covers in recent memory, so SCORE!)
The new paperback cover!
True Story: They had some trouble deciding on a new cover design. Finally, my amazingly sweet editor sent me an email asking if I had any ideas. Um, I did not. So I asked my then 10 year old son if HE had any ideas. He did. And the new cover? Pretty much his ideas, with some added flair. My kid is AWESOME. The back cover is also cool, with pics of the characters, candy, reviews…
Hey, what? You want to SEE the back cover? Then leave a comment, and I will send ONE lucky winner (US residents only please) a copy of my paperback! And, you know what? If you live in the US, and you send me an email to nikki @ nikkiloftin DOT com with your physical address, I will send you TEN stickers with the new cover… and maybe more things, too! (Spontaneity! It’s expensive but fun!) The clock strikes at midnight on Monday, January 20 on this one – so sign up soon.
Can you tell I’m excited? VERY.
And after you enter the giveaway, hop on over to the blog for one of the BEST bookstores, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, to read my extremely personal, scandalous tell-all interview… okay, maybe not tell-ALL … And if you happen to live in Seattle, they should have some of those lovely new cover stickers and stuff later this week, too! So ask. A huge thanks to SMB for featuring me on their blog!
Um, I’m going to post some other cool things here, because I had some nice stuff appear on the Internet this week, and I want to find it later, on those days when terrible reviews roll in and I question my very existence.(These days will come – they always do. Nice to be prepared, yes?)
Here, Future Nikki. Read THIS.
And now read THIS AWESOME THING.
Now get back to writing. ALL OF YOU!
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.