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October 2018

Not much book news to report, except the joy of seeing my newest manuscript make it into copyediting! Whoo-hoo! Oh! And I saw the cover design, which is glorious! Can't reveal it just yet, though.

Several days at Elbow Lake, Minnesota at LoonSong Writing Retreat kicked the month off in grand fashion. There, overlooking shimmering waters and dazzling sunsets, I joined a host of authors including friends Sarah Aronson, Bruce Coville, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Marion Dane Bauer, and Debby Dahl Edwardson for a series of panels on the art, craft, and business of writing books for children. A few of us white-haired authors (yes, I have a few white hairs!) talked about the keys to longevity in this business. As for me, I gave a craft talk on writing novels in verse which elicited a few "so, that's why my novel in verse isn't working!" from the audience. I love those "aha" moments, and LoonSong produced a good many. In fact, there were breakthroughs all around, including among the faculty. You can't beat a good writing retreat for shaking things loose and simulating good writing. I enjoyed spending time with fellow creatives in a peaceful and beautiful environment where ideas flowed freely. If you've never attended LoonSong, you should consider it next year! You won't regret the investment. Your writing will benefit from the experience.

Welcome to LoonSong
Penn State, where the award ceremony was held, is a beautiful campus. Loved coming across this Carnegie building that used to be a library.
LoonSong pier
The pier at Elbow Lake, LoonSong Writing Retreat.
LoonSong shoreline

The beauty that is part of LoonSong.

Sunset at LoonSong
Sunset at LoonSong.

After the wonder of LoonSong, I packed my bags for Scotland.

My friend Jenna and I landed in Edinburgh, groggy from the long trip, and having lost a full day in the process. Even through sleepy eyes, we could tell that Edinburgh was beautiful.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh

Downtown Edinburgh..

Edinburgh

Our first stop was the home of our hosts in Musselburgh, an hour outside of the city. Me being me, one of the first things I noticed was their gorgeous garden!

Musselburgh garden
Garden in Musselburgh, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The next day, we took in the National Gallery, the National Museum and, best of all, were treated to a tour of the National Library. Librarian Linda MacMillan gave us the grand tour, joined by Graeme Howley, Head of General Collection. Between them, they gave us an overview of the library's—and Edinburgh's—history, and a detailed exploration of the collection. Graeme oversees the contemporary collection of 14 million books! He assured me that he'd see to it their collection of my work would now be expanded! Mind you, I was just happy to find my books there, at all.

Linda MacMillan and Graeme Hawley
Librarian Linda MacMillan and Graeme Hawley, Head of General Collection of The National Library of Scotland gave me a wonderful tour of the library.
The Elephant House
A very popular site in Edinburgh, here JK Rowling sat for hours, writing the Harry Potter books.

After our little book-nerd hearts were fed (Jenna is a librarian, so we were both in heaven), we returned to Musselburgh and prepared for the next day's trip to Isle of Skye in Scotland's famed Highlands.

Our three-day tour of Isle of Skye was plagued by heavy rains off and on throughout. We felt the tail-end of the hurricane whipping up trouble on America's east coast. Between pulling our rain gear off and on too many times to count, we glimpsed some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, and visited our share of castles! This is a land of fairies, and the Scots take their fairies seriously. As for me, I found myself lost in the heather, and fell head-over-heals in love with this green and beautiful world, dotted by castles, sheep and Highland cows. I'll let the photos do the talking because, honestly, words fail. Try not to be too jealous of me, though. I've been known to go four-five years without a vacation, so when I do take a break, I have to make it a good one! 

Enjoy the photos. I didn't manage a shot of Nessy, but she's rather shy. Maybe next time!

Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Nikki Grimes on the Isle of Skye
Boat to reach the Isle of Skye
Castle at Dunvagen
Castle at Dunvagen.
Castle at Dunvagen
Castle at Dunvagen
Scottish Highlands
The Scottish Highlands.
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands

Well, that's it for now! Until next time.

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Nikki Grimes

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