Monday, December 31, 2007

Book Blog Tours

Happy New Years! *Throws confetti!*

I've noticed that lots of kid lit (and other genres, too) authors are touring lately on several popular blogs. Since 2008 is about trying new things, I'm going to open the floor to the first four authors who contact me if they'd like to pop in on my blog for a visit in January or February. I'll post a picture of your book, we can have a Q&A session and a brief summary of your novel. Oh, and if you want to give away a prize, you can do that, too! The blog is averaging a very healthy amount of weekly hits, so I'm looking forward to upping that and keeping things going.

As always, e-mail me at jessica [at] jessicaburkhart [dot] com

Yay for 2008!

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again for...New Year's resolutions! (This sounds like a game show, LOL.) I can't believe it's already January 1 tomorrow. Anyway, I've got my writing resolutions up on my bulletin board since I believe the "see it and make it happen" sort of philosophy. So, here we go:

* Finish two more books in the Canterwood Crest series
* Get an ending on my first YA and start subbing it
* Start a brand new MG project
* Break into my two dream markets--Seventeen and Teen Vogue
*
Learn more about marketing and start promoting Take the Reins in the fall
* Increase blog and Website traffic
* Read even more than I did in 2007

Share some of your writing (or non-writing) goals. :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Review: Guerrilla PR by Michael Levine



I found this 1993 book on guerrilla marketing and thought I'd give a quick review since so many people seem interested in PR.

This isn't a book just for authors, though book PR is mentioned a couple of times. It's a book for small businesses or people who are self-employed. While the book is a bit old, it does offer something I haven't come across in other books--it teaches you HOW to think like a PR person.

The book walks you through what's worth making noise about, how to write a press release, when/if you need to hire a publicist (still my biggest question!) and how to save money while doing all of the above.

My favorite section gives examples of crazy things people did to get attention for themselves or their product. Did you know Washington Irving staged his own kidnapping when he released a new book?

This book challenges you to think about how to best market yourself and makes it clear that you don't have to have big $$ to promote well. Professionalism is key above all.

The best thing I learned was to start making a contact roster. Immediately. Now. Of newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, etc that I feel comfortable contacting about my book or my story.

So, yes, I'd definitely recommend this book!

Okay, would you like me to review any other PR books that I read? If so, I'll keep posting them here.

Happy weekend!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Ten Literary Cities

In yesterday's USA Today, the book section of the paper rated the top ten literary cities. Can you guess?

Here they are in order:

Minneapolis
Seattle
St. Paul
Denver
Washington, DC
St. Louis
San Fran
Atlanta
Pittsburgh
Boston

Is your city on the list? I was a bit surprised by a couple of these, but some like San Fran and Boston were obvious to me. I read an article a few weeks ago that said San Fran was one of the fastest growing literary cities.

TGIF! What are your weekend plans? I'm revising CB and reading a new book that I got yesterday--Guerrilla PR. Next week, I'm going to review Donald Maass' The Breakout Novel, so stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Finished Chasing Blue

All right! The holiday season is behind (well, almost behind) some of us and I'm looking forward to the New Year. Later in the week, I'll post my resolutions for the New Year and I hope you'll share some of yours. :)

Yesterday, just as my mom was taking the roast beast out of the oven, I typed the final words on Chasing Blue. It took about 7 weeks to finish and I'm thrilled to have the draft down. Sure, there are lots of revisions to be done, but that feeling of elation of having 200+ pages down on paper is AMAZING.

When I first started writing this book, I was a wreck. I've never written a sequel before, had no idea how much to reference the first book and worried I'd screw it up. But when I got started, things felt natural. I somehow knew how much to reference Take the Reins, my characters were more familiar than before and the luxury of not having to create an entirely new world (aside from a road trip the girls take) was nice.

My holiday break was fantastic! I spent lots of time reading (the Mob Princess series by Todd Strasser), writing (obviously) and watching movies (Wild Hogs and Order of the Phoenix).

Today, I'm printing and rereading CB and writing thank you notes for holiday gifts. (I'm waving at you, Aunt G, in case you read this!) :)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy holidays to you!

Happy holidays to all! Regular blogging will resume soon! Be safe, have fun and enjoy the final days of '07! :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Class of 2k8 blog and Website

All right! The Class of 2k8 is up and blogging! Check it out here.

Their Website will be fully functional soon, so be sure you check it out here! I'm so proud of these guys. They've got a fantastic group, exciting books and they're going to take 2008 by storm.

Happy holidays to all, whatever you choose to celebrate.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The books of 2007

You guys had some great thoughts yesterday on the Facebook vs. MySpace debate. I do think that for now, anyway, MySpace is THE place to be to market to teens. But now that Facebook is open to everyone, we'll see how that changes things later, perhaps.

So, is anyone writing through the holidays? Going to be scribbling in a notebook while sipping Aunt Lena's eggnog? :) I'll be working because... I'm just over 10k words away from finishing my second book in the Canterwood Crest series! Yahoo! It's all downhill from here, baby. I want to have it all bright and shiny when I present it to Agent A next month. The lack of good TV has kept me writing much later into the evening than usual.

Also, I rearranged the blog a little and put 2007's read books at the very bottom of the page. The new titles for 2008 will fill their old position in the sidebar. I really wanted to create one link that would take you to all of those titles, but I haven't figured out how to do so yet.

So, I'll ask. What's your favorite book that you read in 2007? It doesn't have to have been pubbed in 2007, if you wish.

Note: from now on I'm going to keep cross-posting here and on LJ. There's such a great LJ crowd (waves!) that I was leaving them out by only posting here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Facebook or MySpace?

On several listservs that I belong to, the hot topic now is marketing to teens and tweens via the Internet. Especially the use of social networks such as MySpace and Facebook.

What's your take? Do you have a MySpace page? Facebook? Do you use them to market or just to make friends in the hopes those friends will purchase your novel?

This summer, I finally hopped on the MySpace train and got a page. I've been on Facebook for much longer. A while ago, I created a MySpace page for my main character of Canterwood Crest and while I'm working on it now, I'm keeping the page private until next year.

I'm interested in hearing your take on online social networks!

**In other veeerrry unrelated news** Jamie Lynn Spears (yes, Brit's sis) is pregnant. She's sixteen. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Go Elf Yourself

If you need a holiday laugh: http://elfyourself.com/. I think I remember this from last year, but go Elf Yourself!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thanks




Thank you so much to everyone who left comments here, emailed me or left notes on LiveJournal. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and they've been so helpful in getting through this difficult time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A death in the family

The blog has been quiet since Thursday because that's when my Siamese cat, Jazz, got sick. She died Saturday morning in my arms at home. I've had her for seven years and adopted her when she was eight. It has been really, really difficult and I'm sure many of you know what that's like. The house is quiet and empty and I slept with a stuffed animal last night instead of my cat. She was perfectly healthy up until now, so I had no warning. Even for 15, she acted like a kitten and had the more energy of any 15 year old I've ever seen. So, I'll be unavailable for a couple more days and then I'll get back to blogging.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thanks, Trashionista!

Ooh! A big thanks goes to Trashionista for recommending Teen Fiction Cafe. Yay! :)

And that's the end of today's incredibly short post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Book Marketing 101

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post yesterday. I feel much better now considering I know I'll be talking to lots of friends and family over the next month and will get that question a few more times.

Since I'll be doing a little shopping on Amazon soon, does anyone have any marketing books to recommend? I've gotten a couple of recommendations and if anyone has another to offer, I'd love to hear it. I've been combing through a couple of books at Books a Million, but haven't found one with fresh marketing ideas that would be do able. So far, I've been filing all of my marketing ideas into a folder and using a huge desk calendar to plot out when I need to do things in 2008 and 2009. Who knew that marketing was such a big part of an author's job! I do love it though, and am learning a lot about the business side of things instead of only the creative side.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So, you sold your book. Tell us about the money!

The past couple of days have been interesting. Using that word loosely. I've had two old friends whom I haven't spoken to in months call to say hi. That's nice, huh? Well, both people asked about my books and I told them I was busy writing the second. The next question--"so, how much did you make on that book?" Um. Well. Do I ask your salary? Would you ask me that if I had a "normal" job? I've been asked that question before and it always trips me! I never know the right response and I feel all awkward and weird. I've read about this on author chats and listservs and it does seem there is no right answer to this question.

Still, don't you think it's just proper etiquette not to ask? After all, it's really your own business. :) What would you say?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Call

So, lots of authors have been sharing their stories about their road to publication. I've done that before, (I think), so I thought blogging about where I was when I got "the call" would be fun.

Getting "the call" from one's agent that there has been an offer on a manuscript is one of those moments I'll never forgot. I remember exactly where I was, where my family was and my jaw dropping.

So, it's May 2007 and my book has been on submission for a few days. I spend all day at my desk writing and check my phone at least every hour to be sure it is on (it is) and that Agent A hadn't called (she hasn't). Tired from typing on a new manuscript, I leave the table and head to wash my face. My dad is working in his office in our house and my mom and brother are at the dentist. It is just about 6pm. So, I get into the bathroom and have a face full of soap when I hear a sound. Not just any sound, mind you, but the ring. This fabulous NYC-ish ringtone that I have set for Agent A. Oh. My.

I tear out of the bathroom, covered in Loreal face wash and without my glasses. Therefore, I'm blind. I grab my phone with soapy hands that are shaking like crazy and put it to my ear. Then, I hear the sweetest words known to an author. "We have an offer!" Dripping wet, unable to see and trying not to pass out and/or vomit, I grab a pen and start to scribble every word Agent A says so I never forget that moment. I'm doing all of this on the back of a recliner because I was in too much shock to make it to the kitchen table.

My dad emerges from his office, sees me soapy and scribbling, and I try to motion to him to stay there while barely saying two words on the phone. When I hang up with Agent A, I turn to my dad and tell him what the offer was. He staggers backwards and then I start shrieking that I have to call my mom. She's in the waiting room while my brother is getting his teeth cleaned.

She says "wait a minute" and leaves the waiting room. Once she's outside, I tell her and she cries. Then, apparently she hangs up and goes to tell everyone in the dentist's office. More crying ensues.

And those were the minutes surrounding "the call." If you've had one, you know the feeling. If you haven't, when you reach that moment, you'll realize it's the most indescribable feeling ever. And you can't wait for it to happen again and again. :)


Onto other things: The Golden Compass did $26.1 million at the box office which was disappointing to most. Sigh. I really thought it would do better, but it did outstanding overseas. Better than LOTR, apparently.


Later, I'll post a 2k9 announcement.

Movies to Books

For some reason, I couldn't get the daemon to work in a regular post, so I put him up there for a couple of days. Anyone else take the test? What's your daemon? It was so much fun to see what mine was. :)

Lately, I've been scanning the papers to see what books to movies are in the works. Atonement (open now) seems to have Oscar buzz already for its actors, so I'm going to read the novel. The Reader by Bernard Schlink is due out in 2008 (with Nicole Kidman) and I've heard of it before, but never read it.

So, over the holidays, I'm trying to read two books at once. While I read YA or MG, I'm trying to get through the adult novels that have been sitting in my TBR pile forever.

Remember, check back tomorrow for an announcement! :) And coming later this week, someone asked me if I ever blogged about where I was and what I was doing when I got "the call" that my manuscript had an offer. I'll share that, too.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Writer Strike Resumes & Golden Compass Reviews

First, the talks to end the five week writer strike have ended with no resolution. Sigh. I feel bad for everyone all around. The boxoffice has been slow this year (again) and this is an awful time for this to be happening.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071208/ap_en_mo/hollywood_labor

And, the reviews for The Golden Compass are in. The reviews averaged out to be a B-, but I'm not too concerned. Tons of Hollywood movies go so-so reviews (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) and were boxoffice blockbusters. We'll see. If you go, come tell us what you thought!

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1808718640/critic

On Monday, I'll post an update on the class of 2k9. Plus, some very exciting news!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Reindeer Peanut Butter Cookies and 10 Most Fascinating People


Those are reindeer peanut butter cookies that my mom found in a holiday book. Adorable, right? :) They're so sweet.
Last night, Barbara Walters did her "10 Most Fascinating People of 2007." Anyone else see the show? She named David and Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Timberlake and Bill Clinton among others. Her number one? British. Female. Magical. Got it? JK Rowling! Again, what another honor for her.
If you had to make a list of the "10 Most Fascinating Writers" (dead or alive) who would make your list?
People such as Poe, Twain, Woolf and Dickens, all of whom had interesting lives come to mind.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Class of 2k9 Update

Thanks for your interest in the Class of 2k9! We're currently seeking MG and YA authors who have a debut novel appearing in 2009. Want more info on what it's like to be in the class? Visit http://www.classof2k7.com and http://www.classof2k8.com for the details. If you'd like to request an application, send an e-mail to theclassof2k9 [@] hotmail [dot] com.

Thanks!


I've been tagged!

Sara Hantz tagged me, so here goes:

Two Men I’d Love to Date if I Were Single (and they were single):

Johnny Depp and Will Smith (seriously, boys, call me.) ;)

I Am Wearing Right Now:

PJs

Two Things I Would Want in a Relationship:

Intelligence and humor

Two of My Favorite Things to do:

read and coo over puppies in the park

Two Things I Want Very Badly At the Moment:

To finish my second book and get started on the third

Two things I did recently:

Put up my Christmas tree and mail a package

Two things I ate today:

Cheerios and peppermint tea

Two people I most recently talked to:

BFF1 and BFF2

Two things I’m doing tomorrow:

Writing and watching Hairspray

2 longest car rides:

Florida to Texas and Florida to Boston

Two Favorite Holidays:

Halloween and New Years

Two Favorite Beverages:

Diet Pepsi and any kind of tea

Two Things about me, things you may not have known about me:

During the holidays, I paint my toenails in corresponding colors. Right now, they're red and green. I'm almost a foot shorter than my younger brother.

Two places I have lived:

Nashville and Ocala

Two of my Favorite Foods:

Chicken and butterscotch cookies

Two Places I’d rather be right now:

In a snowy cabin in the wilderness or on a very hot beach.

Tagged: Emily Marshall and Emily Hendricks

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Blogging at Teen Fiction Cafe--it's promo week!

I blogged about my new Website page for schools and libraries today at Teen Fiction Cafe. :) Leave a comment there and let me know what you think!

I'm off to finish an article about teen driving (scary stats!) and keep typing away on book 2.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Teen Drivers--quotes needed!

*Call for participants!*

I'm on assignment for a national magazine and am writing an article about teen driving. If you're a teen who has: not taken a driver's education course, or has taken one and has been involved in a car accident, or knows another teen who has been in an accident, please e-mail me ASAP. Don't worry, your quotes will be on a first name basis only.

Author Library Visit

I've been sitting on this for a few days while working hard at updating my Website, but I had my first request for an author visit to a library in my state. :) Over the summer, I had been contacted about middle school and college campus visits, but this is my first request for a library visit. I. Am. So. Excited. I love, love libraries!!

The library is one that I friended through MySpace and they asked for my information. So, on my Website, I now have a shiny, new "schools and libraries" page that I'll be discussing tomorrow at Teen Fiction Cafe. (Yes, I thought I was blogging there yesterday and got confused.)

When I firm up the details, I'll share them, but for now I'm expecting things to slow down for the holidays.

Has anyone been to an author visit at a library? What did you think?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Photos of Winter Festival

Burkhart family (12-1-07) J, C, J and J




Last night, my family and I went to downtown's winter festival. It was a "frigid" 65 degrees and we watched the Jingle Bell run and the parade. This year, we stood at the start of the parade and ended up right where the police horses gathered. I was in heaven! I took a dozen pictures of the horses and loved being close to them.

I'm blogging at Teen Fiction Cafe tomorrow, so c'mon over. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

BookTour.com

Yesterday, I was combing through my bookmarks when I found one for BookTour. I had bookmarked the site months ago because I hadn't been able to sign up. You need an ISBN to register as an author. Since I've got that now, I got an account and love it! It even has a very cool graphic for your Website that shows all of your school, library, bookstore, etc visits when you add them to BookTour's Website. Plus, I love the fact that if you put in your zipcode, BookTour will tell you when authors are X amount of miles away from you. Neat!

Anyone else have this or heard about it?

 
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