Writing Workshops, Singing and Dancing in Public, and Other Fun Stuff

It’s been a minute since I shared what’s going on, but I had to drop everything and tell you about the upcoming fun stuff in my kid lit life!

If you’ve known me for even a short while, you know that I love teaching writing workshops as much as I love ice cream. I’m so happy that on April 20, I will get the chance to teach two of them in Abilene, at the fantastic Seven and One bookshop. (Actually next door at the museum, and I promise to post pics of the incredible store and space.) If you know any young writers in Abilene, one workshop is full, but there might be a space or two left in the other!

The next news is about the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in San Antonio. Once again, I will join the inimitable James Kennedy to celebrate young people, their literature, and their films, on May 11 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. James and I will sing, we’ll dance, we may fall down and pretend we meant to do that, we’ll hope the videos of our antics will not come back to haunt us for decades. 😉 If you have a young filmmaker, this is one not to miss!

The last little piece of news is about If You Get Lost! My debut picture book was nominated for the MPIBA Reading the West awards. It is such a thrill to see Deborah Marcero’s artwork and my text on this list with some of my favorite authors in the world.

I’m also doing a couple of local fun school visits, and I’ll share more soon… hope your spring is hopping!

The San Diego Writers Festival KidsWrite! children’s writing contest

I love to tell young writers about my own experiences writing for contests when I was in elementary, middle, and high school. I am so thankful for the teachers and librarians who encouraged me to enter, and fueled my desire to write more, and better, and to do the scary thing by entering again. I ended up winning scholarships to college, and some of the themes and images from those early stories found their way into my published books.

You can imagine my emotions when the head of the San Diego Writers Festival KidsWrite! contest messaged me to ask if I would be okay with them using my book, If You Get Lost, as the theme for 2024. I was utterly delighted and cannot wait to hear how the entries turn out!

Have any of you entered any contests recently? I’d love to hear about your courage and creativity!

Daily Texan Today, Longhorn Forever

Last week, I had the fun and only slightly terrifying chance to speak with a reporter for The Daily Texan, the newspaper for my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin. The story came out and I’m tickled pink. My favorite parts were the kind words said by my husband Dave and my friend Cynthia Leitich Smith.

I never once thought I’d be a distinguished alumna. I wonder if the other “distinguished alums” pretty much live in pajamas?

New Reviews And Picture Book Party News

I’m sitting smack in the middle of the If You Get Lost book release and the big book launch party at Bookpeople this Saturday, and it’s busy and frantic and wonderful.

One of the most fun things is seeing booksellers’ and readers’ posts on social media. I can’t show the pics of the kids on their grandparents’/parents’ laps here, but I CAN show you the kind words from McNally Robinson Booksellers. (Thank you!)

“An instant staff favourite, If You Get Lost is a beautiful read-aloud about a lost stuffed bunny who finds itself among a group of friendly forest animals who accompany it on its journey. Complete with magical illustrations and gentle, lyrical text, If You Get Lost is a breathtaking picture book that will be adored by readers of all ages.”

I can also show you a few pics of the swag and gifts I have for Saturday’s party. I have absolutely no chill, and I’ve gone overboard. But isn’t that what a party is for? I’ve ordered bunny sugar cookies, cheese trays, snacks and beverages for all ages, and decorations! If you’d like to come, we will make room at the kids’ table for you. 😉

If You Get Lost is Here!

It’s here at last! I’m so happy that my debut picture book is out in the world today, a little earlier than anticipated! Books are drafted in isolation, but when they launch, you can be sure there have been a whole group of people involved in bringing them to that point. Launch day is full of emotions for me, but the one that stands out is a deep, joyfilled gratitude.

First of all, I am grateful to Deborah Marcero, for the exquisite illustrations that make the text sing.
I also want to thank my agent Ginger Knowlton and my editor Anne Schwartz, along with the amazing Anne Marie Varga and Sarah Lawrenson at PRH, who all worked so hard to make this day happen.

I could go on for pages. There are so many friends in my life who helped this day arrive, and I’m planning to thank them all at the Bookpeople event on August 5th!

I wrote this book for children like my own, who got lost in a lot of different ways. It’s not only a story about wandering away in the woods. It’s about how we can find joy, and friendship, and even beauty, while we are making the long journey back to our circles, our campfires, our homes.

I will now go have the traditional launch day happy-cry, and get back to working on my next book.

Thank you for reading! Here are some pics of today’s signing fun at Bookpeople. (I ran into Brenna Carzoo, who was also signing! I fangirled pretty hard, I’ll admit.)

If You Get Lost – Now Out July 18!

For writers, waiting for a book to come out is a lot of “hurry up and wait.” I wrote the first draft of If You Get Lost around ten years ago. My phenomenal agent Ginger sold it to Anne Schwartz Books three years ago. And I was impatiently waiting for it to come out in a few weeks, when an email arrived, informing me that for once I didn’t have to wait.

If You Get Lost will be out July 18, and my author copies arrived today!

Aren’t they beautiful? Look at the amazing end pages! The cover behind the dust jacket! The maps! The cute little stuffed animals I’m giving away at the launch party at Bookpeople, along with the stickers and bookmarks!

I’m so delighted by how this book turned out, I can’t sit still. What a happy day!

If You Get Lost Launch Party at Bookpeople!

How much do I love Bookpeople?

I met my husband there.

I launched all my middle grade novels there.

And now? My very first baby author dream is coming true there, too. My debut picture book IF YOU GET LOST is coming out on 7/25 from Anne Schwartz Books, and I am over the moon to announce that I’ll be throwing the biggest, best book party I can to mark the moment! Join me on August 5 at 6 pm, for a reading, author Q&A, book signing, food, drinks, door prizes, and gifts for everyone to take home. RSVP if you can, so I can make sure to have enough cake, gifts, and swag for you and all your friends, tall or small.

Of course, I know not everyone can come to the event. So, I’m doing a pre-order campaign! Early orders will get signed, personalized copies, with bookmarks & sticker swag tucked inside. Grab yours now! 🏕🐇

QOTD: What kind of cake or cookie would you most like to share with a friend if YOU were lost… or at a book launch party?

IF YOU GET LOST – My Debut Picture Book! YAY!!!

Hi, friends! So, I finally have some more great news to share, and a story.

Some of you may know that when I first started writing for kids, I wrote picture book manuscripts, not novels. In fact, in my pre-agented days, I would send out my picture books to small publishing houses, and more than once my manuscripts would be taken to acquisitions meetings… and then, nothing. Over and over again. I loved those picture book babies so much, and it really did break my heart each time another one would languish. Like, actual ache in my chest kind of heartbreak.

So I started turning them into novels. Both Nightingale’s Nest and Wish Girl were actually grown from the seeds of picture books that I had loved and couldn’t give up on.

I kept writing picture books over the years (and calling them poems, and relegating them to a file on my laptop called Greeting Cards. Long story.), but it wasn’t until my agent Ginger K. expressed an interest in seeing one that this happened:

43633-1.JPGAnne Schwartz at Random House/Schwartz has acquired, at auction, North American rights for If You Get Lost by Nikki Loftin (l.) (Wish Girl), illustrated by Deborah Marcero (In a Jar). This picture book debut from the author tells the story of a stuffed bunny who falls from a car window at the start of her family’s camping trip, and begins a magical adventure through the forest to find her way back. Publication is set for summer 2023. Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown represented the author, and Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary represented the illustrator.

In just a few short weeks – days, almost! – I went from dreaming about having a picture book of my own out in the world, to finding out multiple editors also thought the manuscript was worthy, to realizing my very first Baby Author Nikki dream was going to come true. Anne Schwartz at Random House Children’s Books made my heart flutter when she signed the book, found the perfect artist for the project (Have you seen Deborah Marcero’s work? Holy wow! Her books – they’re brilliant, and the art is stunning), and now all I can do is dance around the house and wonder at my good fortune.

Well, and write more picture books, because my heart? Isn’t quite as broken as it once was. Not quite.

I hope one of your dreams comes true soon. Keep writing, and reading, and holding your heart together as best you can.





Re-Imagining a Fairy Tale (A Video For Young Writers)

Hi, y’all! The pandemic is keeping kids out of the classrooms, but thanks to the Writers’ League of Texas and Project WISE, young writers everywhere can be educated/horrified/traumatized/enlightened AT HOME by yours truly!

I hope you enjoy these 27 minutes of Creepy Author Nikki.

I’ll admit, I’m a little punchy mid-quarantine. But hey! I wore pants for this! And lipstick! And it might be funny enough to get some bored kids back to the page… I hope so, at least. Let me know if it does – I’d love to hear about your Quarantine Kids’ work.

Thanks for watching and sharing. Stay safe and stay home!





Pandemic Poem-A-Day: Fireflies

Hi friends! I hope you are all staying well. I’ve been reading voraciously (is there such a thing as too much reading? I may find out soon), and revising and writing. The best thing to come out of the pandemic at my house is the poetry. Every day, or at least most days, I try to sit with an empty page, stare out the window, and let the poetry arrive in search of me, as Neruda might say.

I can’t share much of the new poetry, as it’s still cooking, but some very nice things have been happening with some of last year’s crop! Including this lovely moment, where my poem Fireflies appears as the poem of the day on a lovely blog.

Okay, okay. I can’t help myself. I’ll share a few words of a poem in progress… the first few lines of a thing that won’t stop whispering.


Long ago

when the

world was quiet

the night was dark

and we dreamed

with our eyes wide,

the stars were maps.


Now go, and write, and be ready when the unformed poem arrives, breathless, waiting for you.