Tag Archives: Nikki Loftin

Two Books I recommend Highly

Nightingale's NestWhen I began Nikki Loftin’s Nightingale’s Nest it was with fear and trepidation because I’d listened to Nikki in person tell the story of how this book came to be written. She called it a story very close to her heart, one that had to be written. I also had heard rumors that it might be a story about abuse. So I was scared to read it because frankly, I don’t like stories about abuse.

Well, I was right and I was wrong. Nightingale’s Nest is about abuse, but it isn’t the kind of story you would expect. Nope, it is so much more. It’s beautiful for one thing, and usually stories about abuse aren’t beautiful.

It made me cry. You know I’m such a sucker for stories that make me cry. But it also left me feeling full of joy at the end. (Okay, now I’m crying again.) It’s true, and that’s down to the talent of Nikki Loftin that she can write a Middle-grade novel that made me laugh and cry.

Nightingale’s Nest is about a boy who is big and tall for his age, and a girl who is much too small for her age. The girl likes to climb trees. She’s built a nest, but that isn’t her special talent. Her special talent is singing. And she’s waiting for her parents, certain they are looking for her. The boy isn’t so sure. There’s trouble in both of these children’s lives. The way their lives criss-cross and touch other lives is what the story is about. It is timeless and timely. I recommend it for all ages because though kids as young as nine could read this book, and get what it is about, an adult reading it might find deeper layers of meaning.

Another wonderful middle-grade book that should not be passed up by adults is Gary D. Schmidt’s Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. There are layers in this story, too. One layer is that it is historical fiction. The island off the coast of Maine where the black inhabitants were chased away to make room for a hotel does exist and the story did happen. The author simply added more layers with a story about a minister’s son and his friendship with one of the island’s inhabitants, a little black girl. It’s told in the first person with a voice that resonates. The things that happen in the town, with the folks who make up the inhabitants who are both fearful and greedy. The one fine old lady who I thought wasn’t very nice but who turns out to be wonderful, the bad guy who took up an entire room with his presence, the grandpa who loved clam chowder, all these people were drawn so well, I felt I knew them through and through by the end of the story.

Rejecting Rejection with Nikki Loftin

One of my special writing friends has written a thoughtful reflection on what it means to be rejected and the different kinds of rejections. And why she won’t stop doing what she does despite rejections and negative reactions to her work.


Rejecting Rejection with Nikki Loftin.

Books Written by People I Know (but wonder if they will know me after they’ve read this)

English: Performance of Hansel and Gretel 2007 DOT
English: Performance of Hansel and Gretel 2007 DOT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may get the feeling that I only post about great books or that I think all the books I read are great books. That would make little sense. I read a lot of books. Most I’ve picked out because I think I will like them. I don’t always. Perhaps you think that I am posting good reviews for friends. Not so. I haven’t reviewed a friend’s book yet. Although that is fixin’ ta change y’all. Right here, right today, I’m going to review three books written by friends. And I’m going to throw in mention of a few books that I do not recommend just to keep things interesting.

Rodney Walther has written a good book about a boy and his father and baseball. If any writer can make me cry, it’s Rodney. Once I read a short story he wrote and in three pages I was bawling. He has hit a home run with Broken Laces. It’s about a man wrapped up in himself (I can’t imagine – how unrealistic, right?). Jack can’t get off the phone long enough to have any real-time with his sweet family. Then he witnesses his wife killed in a car accident. To top it off, he loses his job. He is lost. But the book isn’t about the loss. It is about Jack connecting to the part of his life that he hasn’t really ever understood, his young son. Broken Laces is well-written with a line of action that is straight forward and easy to follow. Anyone would like this book. Great read!

What happens when your imaginative child comes home from school and reports that her/his new teacher is a witch who wants to eat all the children? You laugh and tell your child that he/she will still be going to school in the morning. Right? Right. But what if it’s TRUE? Nikki Loftin has written a middle-grade novel  called The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. In it little Lorelei’s school suddenly burns down. So a wonderful new school is built – in three days. It seems a little strange and that playground is definitely too good to be true. But Lorelei is dealing with a lot of troubles what with her dad marrying a terrible woman and Lorelei missing her mother so much. So she doesn’t consider the fantastic school with the darling playground sinister in any way. But when her friend Andrew goes missing she begins to suspect all is not what it seems. This fresh take on Hansel and Gretel is well-paced and has just enough page-turning suspense to keep a kid (like me) up all hours reading it. I was a little disappointed with what happens to the kitchen help but I loved the playground sand (because I’m ghoulish that way). Loved the book and I recommend to for all middle-school kids. Wonderful!

Want a little suspense, mystery, and Caribbean island yore mixed with that Bloody Mary? You must read Pamela Fagan Hutchins book Saving Grace. Katie Connel is a successful lawyer dancing daily with alcohol until she realizes that her one true love Nic doesn’t find her inebriated state very sexy. When she realizes that she has lost his respect and possibly any hope of snagging him, she does the only thing a girl in her situation can do. Get sober. Even if she isn’t an alcoholic. And how will she do that? On a Caribbean vacation of course. Except anyone who has ever been to the Caribbean knows that everyone on the islands drink – morning, noon, and night. But she is on a serious mission. She must find out why her parents went to the island on vacation the year before and while there, drove over a cliff and died. Her investigation proves only one thing, nothing is as it seems. But she does feel herself recovering from the alcohol (though she isn’t an alcoholic), and from Nic only to find herself head over heels for an abandoned shell of a mansion in the middle of nowhere. And possibly the house is occupied by a “jumbie”. The suspense keeps the pages turning with unanswered questions such as “Who is the P.I. she hires talking to and why does he keep denying it? Why was her non-drinking father drinking when he died? The novel is well paced, the action moving me forward through the story. I did question why a mysterious woman is seen at the mansion on p.61 but not mentioned again for some time later, the bee incident isn’t clear until afterward, and the finding of the ring is a little too coincidental but overall I was really wowed by the book. The action-packed, lean-forward-in-your-seat ending left me wanting a drink. Although I’m not an alcoholic. Buy the book!

With all these good books I’m going to leave the duds for tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

Houston Writer’s Guild 2012 Conference Goes Without a Hitch

Today’s writing conference with the Houston Writer’s Guild was very well organized (Thank you, Roger Paulding) and well attended. The guest speakers were excellent.

Chitra Divakaruni, author of many books including Mistress of Spices, told us that not one word we ever write is truly wasted. Even if we toss it away, that word led us to another word or another way to phrase something so it is a stepping stone to being better. So keep writing.

Nikki Loftin was hilarious, positive, and thought provoking. She used parts of fairy tales as analogies. For instance, there are witches in our lives who want to keep us from writing. Sometimes the biggest witch is our inner voice telling us to “quit writing and get on with your life!” (that one’s my own personal witch just now popping out of the dungeon) Or she talked about keeping our bread crumbs so we can find our way out of the woods (a scary dark place where we can forget why we keep writing). A bread crumb might be remembering that first time I realized a sentence that I created was wonderful. Or the feeling of finally completing a novel. Yes. I’m keeping my bread crumbs, Nikki. I’m going to put a big poster on the wall with all my bread crumbs on it.

Ken Atchity talked about the changing book marketplace, the film industry, and then he left us with an encouraging poem about being on the first step of a writing career. In other words if we could make it past all the discouragement and rejections into a place where we have completed a writing project is huge step. His story merchant companies http://www.aeionline.com and http://www.thewriterslifeline.com provide a one-stop full-service development and management machine for commercial and literary writers who wish to launch their storytelling in all media.

The break-out sessions with the editors and agents went smoothly this year. I say that because I heard no grumbling or complaining. And some compliments. So … well done you people!

I thought the Panera Bread sandwiches at lunch were great – we could grab one and eat and talk to people and mingle. So that was so much nicer than a sit down lunch.

And here is a little something that has nothing to do with the conference.