Friday, July 12, 2013

New Worlds, Every Day

I am honored to welcome author Nikki Loftin to my blog as my first EVER guest post.  I am also thrilled that she is giving away a signed copy of the book, along with stickers and bookmarks, to one my readers (enter the giveaway with the Rafflecopter link below).
Again, this is part of the 2013 Summer Author Promo Blitz.  There will be a Twitter party on July 19th at 7pm, with the hashtag #2013SummerAuthorBlitz.  There is a Facebook party going on all month as well, located here:  Thank you, Nikki!!!

“Are you writing a sequel?”

Someone asks me this almost every time I speak to groups of kids or adults about writing. It’s a natural question – and a flattering one sometimes, from readers who fell in love with the brave, funny characters in my debut novel, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. Readers ask it with a hopeful tone, and helpful ideas for what I might want to consider adding to Book Two.

Some people ask because they know I have sold two more Middle Grade novels to my publisher, and they assume that must mean a series, right? I mean, why would an author write stand-alone books, one after another, creating new worlds, whole new slates of characters, again and again? Isn’t that slightly Sisyphean? (Or, you know, harder than necessary?)

Or is it just dumb? I mean, Everyone knows the real money in writing is coming up with a hot property, stretching it out as long as you possibly can, spinning out the last thread of a story’s life so that every question is answered, every mystery solved. Maybe I’m just not a very clever businesswoman, not smart enough to figure out how to make this writing thing into a real career. Could be true. But I don’t think that’s it. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to try writing a series someday. I would also love to drive a Lamborghini like all the other authors who write series, and eat off new plates every single night like them, wearing their Jimmy Choos, and… sorry. The sound of all my writer friends laughing is distracting me.

But the answer is no. I am not writing a sequel, or a series. I’m not planning on writing a sequel to any of the books I’ve sold. And I may never write a series. (Although I have this great idea for one titled Barry Potter and the Toiletsnake of Doom. Instant classic, right?)

Here’s the thing: I love writing. Pretty much love it more than anything short of eating ice cream. And so far, the best things I’ve written – the things that people have actually (this still amazes me every day) PAID me to write – are stand-alone novels.

New idea after new idea? Yep, I’ve got my Muse on speed dial, people. I adore her, and she’s been pretty good to me, too. My favorite part of the whole process is imagining the new world, coming up with the things that make my books different from all the others. Even from all my others.

Some of my favorite books in the world are stand-alones.  The Graveyard Book, Bridge to Terabithia, The Underneath… when I finished reading these books, I didn’t need another book to give me that shivery wonderful feeling of being enraptured with a new world. I pretty much just wanted to read those books again and again – and I did.

When I was a girl, the very best part of reading was when I reached the end of a story, and couldn’t let it go – and so I’d sit by myself and daydream the rest of the day or week or month. I’d let the characters in my favorite books loose in my head, and let them live out new lives, new stories. Sometimes I’d even write my new stories down. (It’s called fan fiction now. I hear some authors have done very well with it.)

I think in part those moments of continuing favorite stories made me into a writer. If all the loose ends had been tied up? I might have read more of those authors’ books, but I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time playing at being an author myself. 

Learning to be an author.

So, the book I’m writing now, Nightingale’s Nest, is not a sequel. It’s completely new. But I think – I hope – when some young reader finishes it, if I’ve crafted the ending just right – they’ll get to have that shivery feeling, too. And then maybe they’ll write a sequel in their minds – and get a taste for the magic that is creating.

Because as much as I love creating new worlds, I really, really love creating new writers.


About The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy:

Lorelei is bowled over by Splendid Academy—Principal Trapp encourages the students to run in the hallways, the classrooms are stocked with candy dishes, and the cafeteria serves lavish meals featuring all Lorelei's favorite foods. But the more time she spends at school, the more suspicious she becomes. Why are her classmates growing so chubby? And why do the teachers seem so sinister?

It's up to Lorelei and her new friend Andrew to figure out what secret this supposedly splendid school is hiding. What they discover chills their bones—and might even pick them clean!

Mix one part magic, one part mystery, and just a dash of Grimm, and you've got the recipe for a cozy-creepy read that kids will gobble up like candy.

Reviews for Sinister Sweetness:

"A mesmerizing read. . . . a fantasy that feels simultaneously classic and new."—Publishers Weekly

"An irresistible contemporary fairy tale. . . . Deliciously scary and satisfying."—Kirkus

About the Author

Nikki Loftin is a writer and native Texan who lives just outside Austin, Texas, with her two boys, an assortment of animals, and one very patient husband. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is her first novel. Her next novel, Nightingale’s Nest, is also for young readers and will be published in February 2014.

About Nightingale’s Nest:

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.


"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 When 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

&lta Rafflecopter giveaway

Just picked a winner for the giveaway (which is now closed) - Mackenzi V, you will be getting an email from me soon!!! Thank you all for entering!


  1. Great post! And those covers are beautiful, btw...

  2. Great interview! Personally, I wish more authors would write standalones!