Wednesday, December 10, 2014

iParty!


Thank you iBooks editors for naming A SNICKER OF MAGIC one of the Best of 2014! You can check out the full list of books here: iTunes.com/ibooksbestof2014



And now Biscuit and I shall go have a little dance party to celebrate! 



Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas treats from Midnight Gulch!

Hello there! Biscuit is patiently waiting for me to finish a round of revisions so we can geek out over holiday fun. And while I'm not quite finished yet, I thought I would 1.) pop on here to say hello and 2.) offer up some holiday swag.

If you're giving A Snicker of Magic as a gift this holiday season, we'd be happy to send you some fun stuff to give along with the book! Our pack of fun includes the following:



- A Personalized Bookplate (for you to stick inside the cover)
- A magnet sheet of Felicity's favorite words (Scholastic made these and they are ADORABLE!)
- A bookmark
- An activity booklet (not pictured here, but rest assured it's snazzy)

There's no cost for us to send it your way. We're just tickled to be able to do it. I wish I could send some Blackberry Sunrise as well, but I don't know Oliver's special formula to keep it frozen. So we'll have to stick with paper-swag. :)

If you want a swag-pack, email nat.lloyd (at) yahoo.com by December 14th* and let me know:
- The name you want on the bookplate
- Your mailing address

Here are some answers to questions so far:

* YES, I still have everything "in stock" :) I don't have quite as many magnet sheets as I do other goodies, so email quickly if you're hoping for one of those.
* YES, we can send more than one set. So if you're giving the book to your niece, your high school gym teacher who loved ice cream, and yourself - I can send you three sets of stuff. Etc.
* YES, I can totally send it even if it's not a present. For example, if your awesome offspring read the book this year and you know he or she would love some swag - I'm still super happy to send it along!
* YES, I'm happy to send extra bookmarks to teachers! I don't have enough magnet sheets for every student. But I still have lots of bookmarks (and, for now, I can still send you a magnet sheet for your classroom.

And don't forget, #BeTheBeedle is still happening! (Click here!)

Happy Holidays from the gang in Midnight Gulch! Thank you so much for giving the Pickles a home in your heart this year. I can imagine many various wonderful and crazy scenarios, but I never could have imagined how rad this year would be. Thank you for taking the book to heart and sharing it with people you love. It's a joy and honor to share the story with you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Missouri and Nashville!



*tips fancy hat to you*

I have two events this week that I'm super excited about. The first is a breakfast in Missouri for librarians (!!). I'll be giving a speech that morning which name drops all of the following folks: 

Aslan,
Bo Duke,
Judy Blume,
Professor Dumbledore,
Biscuit (that's my dog)
and Virgil Lloyd (that's my papaw).

It's going to be fun. I hope.

(Mostly, I'm talking about loving books and how grateful I am for librarians ... but I do work all of those folks into the talk somehow...) (Maybe I shouldn't write when I'm hyped up on coffee??) That speech is on Friday morning. If you're one of the librarians attending that breakfast, I can't wait to meet you!

On Saturday, October 11, I'll be in Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books! 

Now. If you've been reading this blog for a bit, you know I go completely fangirl at this thing every year. I rave about it for days and always go on and on about how I can't believe it's FREE to see so many authors in one place. I still can't. And I'm still so excited about hearing some of my favorite authors talk about what inspired their stories.

In a most funky twist of fate, I get to be part of the event this year! I'll be part of a panel from 1:00-2:30 pm on Saturday. I can't believe that either, but I'm very excited!

Here are the details:


Each of us will be giving a quick, 20 minute presentation about our newest books. So if you come, you'll get to hear what inspired A Snicker of Magic and how the adventure has shaped up so far. And you'll probably see me cry, because my parents will be there. And this will be the first time they've heard me give that talk.

So if you're around the festival that weekend, come hang out! The event is FREE (have I mentioned that a million times?). I would love to meet you!

Here's the full schedule for this year's festival:

http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southern-festival-books/sessions

Friday, October 3, 2014

Be the Beedle.




In a previous post (click here to see!), I mentioned that one of the sweetest parts of writing A Snicker of Magic has been seeing how young readers take it to heart. And one of their favorite ways to do that is by "being the Beedle."

It all started when the book was still a galley, and I got an email from someone (a young bookseller, in fact) asking if she could "be the Beedle" in her hometown for the weekend. Of course, I said, ABSOLUTELY YES!!

Here is one of the pics she sent me from her Beedle-weekend:


Shortly thereafter, I visited a library in Ohio, and got to meet a class of amazing readers. As they came through the line to get their book signed, one reader leaned over and whispered, "I'm the Beedle." I found out later that there were quite possibly a few "Beedles" in this classroom, leaving kind notes around the room, mysteriously donating new books to the class library. I smile every time I think about it.

Not long after that, I got an email from a reader with the subject line: "I am the Beedle." I found out this particular Beedle, with the help of a Beedle associate (aka a mom ;), put a quarter on every student's desk so they would have enough money to buy an otter pop the next day.

Next came Mr. Armamentos' students from Illinois. We all Skyped together last year, and shortly after that Mr. Armamentos emailed to tell me the students had decided to hold a yard sale to raise money for a school in a developing country.

I hope it's totally obvious that I take absolutely NO credit for this awesomeness - none, none, none. I've met lots of readers this year, and I've learned that they're compassionate and kind and excited about finding ways to make the world a little bit better. They would do good things even without reading about a character like The Beedle. But I'm so excited that something they read encouraged them to keep doing good. I'm so inspired by those kids. And so is Scholastic. And so, those swanky Scholastics came up with this idea ... which I adore:


If you see someone doing something nice in your school or neighborhood, email bethebeedle@scholastic.com and you'll get a free signed book. 

And if you decide to Be the Beedle yourself, email that same address and you'll also get a free signed book. For complete details, check out the Scholastic blog:

http://oomscholasticblog.com/post/spot-beedle-get-autographed-book?linkId=9852565

I would be super grateful if you'd let your friends, family, teachers, and librarians know about it, too. Because, chances are, they already know kids who are doing kind things for one another. And even though, in Midnight Gulch, the Beedle works in secret ... I think it's exciting to celebrate young readers who do some good in the world. And it's exciting to be on the lookout for people doing good.

Also, *whispers* ... we have another fun surprise as part of Be the Beedle coming soon. So watch for that. :) [Clue: PUMPERNICKLE]

Thank you for being so awesome. The world can be sad and crummy and about ten thousand kinds of heart crushing. But thanks for always reminding me that the good is way, way better. Thanks for being kind.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hello, Houston!



My bags are packed and the flap on my cowboy boots is super-glued* together because tomorrow I am off to Houston, Texas for the Tweens Read Festival! I'm so excited to be invited to participate this year!

If you're near Houston this weekend, here are the details on the event website (you do have to register for this event): http://www.tweensread.com

I'm part of a fun panel there called Life Happens, along with Varsha Bajaj (Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood), Karen Harrington (Courage for Beginners), Varian Johnson (The Great Greene Heist), Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls) and Jennifer Holm (The Fourteenth Goldfish). We're going to have such fun! :)

There are five different panels at this event, and the panels repeat all day long. Participants will have a chance to see up to three of them (I think). From what I hear, this whole event is a really sweet time. And it's put on by the awesome people at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. Book festivals in general make my heart flutter. The fact that Book Willow booksellers work so hard to make an event just for tweens is the best.

If you're going to be there, I hope you'll say hello! And show me a picture of your dog! (Because I always have a picture of Biscuit with me and I love to talk about pets.)

More events are coming this fall in Missouri, Nashville (!!), Austin, Texas and Connecticut. Come hang out. Or just hang out vicariously. I update pretty often on Facebook, if you're thereabouts.

Hope your fall is fluttery-fantastic. Are you off on any adventures soon? Reading anything lovely? I would love to hear about it.

*At first, my dad had me convinced I could fix the flap on my boots with Gorilla glue. But Gorilla glue ... it is intense. So we opted for superglue instead. (These boots weren't expensive, and they aren't real leather, so I try not to sink too much into them for repairs, ...)






Tuesday, August 19, 2014

around the world and ...


We're still here! We're just, not, *here*.

I've been in the cave of revisions. Biscuit has been dutifully hanging out with me because ... that's her job (bless her). Once I send this new revision to my editor (BLESS her, too, extra-a-lot), I'll start gearing up for a fun fall of new stories, book festivals (huzzah!), more revisions (ha), and coffee with my friends. Or french fries with my friends. Any excuse to see them and eat stuff ... that is all I'm after.

Which brings me to Rebecca!

Rebecca is a wonder; a whimsical and lovely* (*seriously, she looks like a J Crew model) word-lover who blogs at Sturdy for Common Things. She spends her days helping kids create and dream and discover books they'll never forget. I am a fangirl of Rebecca, in case it's not obvious. So when she told me she enjoyed A Snicker of Magic, I did the dance of joy. And when she invited me over to her blog, I squealed.

And then I found out she was moving to The Kingdom of Chattanooga and I said, "LET'S GET COFFEE OR FRENCH FRIES AND BE FRIENDS!"

I wasn't quite that geeky. But close.

As you know, I have a whole Santa-sized list of reasons that Chattanooga is a super-cool city. It's gorgeous, for one. It's full of mountains and fairy-tale towns and battlefields and carousels. We have mighty fine restaurants, and quirky snack shops that sell chocolate whisky cake pops. We have golden dance steps embedded into the sidewalks and a bakery downtown that only makes dog treats. As of this fall, we will have an Anthropologie!!! *cue angel chorus* But the better-than-best part of this city is the people. And I think the heartbeat of a city is always its library. We have a rock-steady heartbeat of a library. And we have amazing librarians.

See HERE for an example. 

And HERE for another one. 

And then check out Rebecca's blog or Pinterest because, wow.

One of the many reasons the Chattanooga Library is so special, in my opinion, is because it merges technology and art in such imaginative ways. Heck, I didn't know technology could be art until I started reading about all the amazing stuff happening at the library downtown. Rebecca just moved to town to be the children's librarian, and I think that makes us a bunch of the luckiest ducks. I remember how it felt to tuck my hopes and dreams and heart into books when I was little. But I didn't realize what a library could be until I was an adult. I'm so happy kids in the city have this library. And that they have folks like Rebecca and Justin and the rest of the magicians there who are creating a place where it's safe to dream and wonder and create. It makes me sappy.

This song, however, just makes me happy. I'll be singing it for the rest of the day. 

You can read the full interview [[here]]. We discussed the folks who live in Midnight Gulch and the power of words and the meaning of magic. I even got to talk about why my word for 2014 is PIONEER. And I got to talk about why this gift means so much to me: 


Do you ever pick a word for the year? Even if you don't, is there a word that fits what you want your year to be? 

Okay! I must grab some supplies (aka: coffee and M&M's) and crawl back into my revision cave. I hope you are having the sweetest summer. I would love to hear how you're doing (and what you're reading!)! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

#virtualbookclub = spindiddly



Hello friends!

Apparently, the swanky folks of the #virtualbookclub on Twitter have made A Snicker of Magic one of their book club selections this month! HOORAY!

If you'd like to be involved in the conversation, hop over on The Twitter and check out the #virtualbookclub hashtag at 9PM - EST tonight.

Sadly, I have to miss out, as I'm currently banished to The Land of No Internet. This summer, I'm hiding out in quiet places, digging deep inside my heart, and working on my second novel. I'm super excited about it, and I can't wait to talk more about the new characters who've moved into my brain space.

Since Biscuit and I are in the edit trenches, I decided to pre-set this post to publish on Monday, July 14th to say THANK YOU.

Thank you so, so much for reading Snicker and taking the time to discuss it!

I also thought it might be fun to share the answers to some of the questions I get asked about the story. I've sent this list to the lovely Niki Ohs Barnes and Beth Shaum as well, in case they want to tweet any of it tonight.  If you'd rather not read these, that is totally understandable! I know some people prefer a reading experience without ever knowing what's happening behind the fluttery curtain.

If you're interested in what inspired the book, how characters came to fruition, how I came up with the words, what it's like working with an editor, how it felt to be published, and where the heck __________ disappeared to?!** ... keep reading.

** There are spoilers ahead. So if you haven't read the story yet, and you are firmly anti-spoiler, maybe go watch this sweet baby otter instead of reading the rest of this post.

I'm so bummed that I can't participate in tonight's chat. I'm pretty surprised, and totally delighted, that #virtualbookclub would choose to discuss Snicker. Thank you for bringing your heart to the story. Thank you for reading it so thoughtfully.

Here's how I took some of my favorite things:

hope
homesickness
love
wonder
worry
words
friendship
ice cream
bluegrass music
a curse
an inky bird
a quirky family
a possible witch's curse ...
.... and a snicker of magic ...

and patched them,
and stitched them,
into one sugar-dusted story.

I hope you enjoyed your time in Midnight Gulch. I hope you never forget that your words are magical things. And, well, I hope. That's it, really. For you, and for me, I think hope is always there, always fluttering at the edges of the stories we get to live and write. Good magic, that. :)

Have a most spindiddly Summer!

Love (& Blackberry Sunrise),
Natalie


S.S.F.A.Q's 
(aka: Answers to Sometimes-Sort-of Frequently Asked Questions)

*   One of the early inspirations for ASoM was an Avett Brothers concert.

*   When the lights dimmed, and the music hit the air, I felt insta-chills ripple up and down my arms. People were dancing together, having an amazing time. Strangers who came from different backgrounds, and believed different things, all came together because of music. I told my brother it was more like a magic show than a concert.

*   The Avett Bros music helped me find my way through the story. Their music helps me find my way every time I write. I like the roughed up beauty of their songs.

*   The idea of word collecting came from a Beatles song. Theres a line in Across the Universe about words slithering and slipping through the atmosphere. I love that image. I started thinking about the words I might see over my friends, my dog, a summer sunset, a storm

*   While I was editing the book, I realized I actually wrote ASoM because I was homesick for people I love, and miss. Particularly, my grandparents. 


*   My grandfather played a guitar and a banjo. When my brother plays those instruments now, its never just music I hear. I picture sunlight. Summer days. Cowboy boots tapping the porch. Something about music turns the memories loose inside me.

*   One of my grandmothers was a quilter, and she also had a knack for bringing people together. Thats where I got the idea for Cleos words: Patch it, Mend it, Stitch it back together.

*   My other grandmother (I called her Granny) loved poetry. She gave me a book of poems with notes in the margins about why she liked them. I remember thinking it was as if shed pressed memories in the book for me to find.

*   I had a great time with the wordplay in ASoM. Sometimes I would go on a search for interesting, odd, funky, fun words. Sometimes I was drawn to words simply because I like the sound.

*   Smashing words together to make up new words was fun, too. I dont collect words the same way Felicity Pickle does, but I treasure them.

*   I cant see words floating above peoples heads. But since ASoM has been published, Ive heard from readers who have similar abilities. One reader told me that every word she reads has a flavor.

*   I wasnt consciously thinking of Synesthesia when I wrote from Felicitys perspective, but I certainly think she could have that.

*   I watched a documentary about a man who had a form of Synesthesia that gave every musical note a color. Thats where I got the idea for Boones similar ability.

*   Dreaming up characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. I think there are definitely elements of people I know in the characters. Cleo is very much like my granny.

*   Biscuit is the name of my dog. I knew I would stick with the story if I could imagine Biscuit running through the scenes. Plus, I love animals. I wanted Felicity and Frannie to have a sweet dog. Here's Biscuit the Task Master, making sure I'm working on edits: 



*   Initially, I didnt think I would write a sequel for ASoM. But I might peak back in on Midnight Gulch someday.

*   Coming up with ice cream flavors was another fun part. Definitely the most fun Ive ever had with research. Ha!

*   Readers often want to know what happened to Felicitys dad. A reader can imagine this any way they want, but I think Roger Pickle was having some personal struggles. He thought he needed to work out those issues alone, so he wouldnt burden his family. Thats the wrong decision, of course. But thats the decision he made.

*   A thoughtful reader in Holly Muellers (@MuellerHolly) class asked if I thought Felicity would have forgiven her father, if he had come back. I think she definitely would have, yes.

*   Even though Felicitys happy ending wasnt perfect, I think shes in a good place. Families can look so many different ways. Felicitys family might look different; but theyre loving and supportive and theyre giving her a safe place to bloom up bright and fine.

*   Meeting young readers is one of my absolute favorite parts of writing. Im so impressed by their questions. Teachers and parents are doing an amazing job of giving students a safe space to share their heart through words. This is a beautiful poem I received from a talented young reader named Julie: 


*   A student in David Muellers (@MrMuellerTeach) school told me that she drew Oliver's bird on her wrist for a spelling bee, because it made her feel brave.

*   Another reader in Davids school told me ASoM gave her confidence. That makes me SO happy! 

*   After brainstorming Beedle ideas, Greg Armamentoss (@dashthebook) students organized a yard sale to raise money for charity. Here's a picture of a fun piece of word-art they made for me: 

*   Ive heard stories of Beedles in several classrooms - leaving kind notes and suckers on desks, and donating books to the class library.

*   Im not surprised young readers connected to the Beedle. I think kids have a magical mix of imagination and kindness swirling around inside them. But I am thrilled! I cant take any credit for the Beedling though. Thats all them. 


*   My editor is Mallory Kass (@Mal_a_la_tete) at Scholastic. Working with her is been a dream. This is when she surprised me with the finished copy of my book at ALA this year! 


*   I once heard Richard Peck say that a good editor holds a flashlight while a writer digs for treasure. Mallory helped me find the heart of my story.

*   Even her edit letters - which are long and intense - always leave me feeling inspired. Im so lucky that I get to work with her.

*   I have jokingly said that my writing inspirations are Roald Dahl and Dolly Parton. But Im not really joking. I think Im drawn to the idea of writing rockabilly fairytales.

*   For as long as Ive been able to daydream, Ive wanted to be a writer.

*   Some of the books that made me a proud booknerd for life were: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Babysitters Club, Anne of Green Gables, & Roald Dahl & Judy Blume books. One of my Scholastic friends, Tracy, tweeted me this picture of Ann M. Martin holding Snicker. You better believe I cried buckets: 

*   My second novel is scheduled to come out in Fall 2015. A friend asked for a four word clue about Novel #2. I said: 

Death. 
Destiny. 
Hot Chocolate.

;) 

*   My favorite ice cream flavor is Blackberry Sunrise, which Beth Shaum made for me! This is from an event in Ohio when I finally got to meet Beth: 




*   Im still amazed anyone would take the time to read ASoM. And I feel so blessed that I get to spend so much time doing what I love. I wake up every day grateful. Thank you for giving the Pickles a home in your heart. Im honored to see Snicker as a #virtualbookclub pick!