Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Expo America in NYC '09--anyone?

Everyone online is chattering excitedly about BEA in LA and damn, I want to go! :) It sounds like soo much fun and since I've never been, I'm dying to see what it's like. I keep hearing the words free books and that just grabs my attention. :)

So, I'm marking my calendar for BEA in NYC in 2009. The dates are from May 28-May 31 at the Jacob K. Javits Center.

Is anyone else looking ahead and planning to go? I hope nothing pops up for me between now and then, but I'm definitely looking at booking it as soon as tickets are available. If you're going or thinking about it, let me know! It would be so much fun to meet people from the online writer communities.

It would be a great time for me since it would be right before the release of Chasing Blue.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekend reads--share yours!

So, I've got a dilemma. My pile of weekend must reads is very large. My weekend reading time? Slim for the next couple of months. But on writing breaks, I've got what sound like fantastic reads.

My choices?

THE SCHOOL FOR COOL (The Social Experiments of Dorie Dilts) by PG Kain
THE HOST--the second weekend in a row...
HOME by Julie Andrews (I could just break into song right now)
PRINCE CASPIAN (I haven't seen the movie yet)

and

RIDING LESSONS by Sara Gruen (I read this book once and had a rare WOW reaction, so I want to read it again.

That's my weekend book pile that I'll be shuffling around and trying to read as much as I can before next week's pile pops up.

What's on your weekend reading list?

Happy Sex and the City Day!! (I wanted pink, but alas, there is none.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Officially Obsessed with Twilight...again

Okay, am I the only one who has become re-obsessed (not a word, I know) with Twilight? I started rereading it on Friday and am in full-blown "I <3 style="font-style: italic;">Twilight wallpaper on my laptop...yikes. I spend waaaay too much time here when I should be, you know, working.

Back to reading, erm, I mean working!

PS--There is no author interview scheduled for this Friday, but on June 6, I've got author Daphne Grab and she's giving away a signed copy of ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK. Be sure to stop by and try to win!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Working on a new Diary of a Debut Author Video

I'm working on a new video that I'll post within a couple of weeks. I've been getting a few e-mails and MySpace messages from people wanting to know how to break into magazines, read mastheads, write a query, etc. So, the video that I'm working on will tell you how to do all of that. If anyone else has freelance questions they want answered, let me know and hopefully I'll know the answer!

I've realized, too, that I love making videos! They're a break from writing and it's fun, creative and a new medium to reach people. In November, for NaNoWriMo, I'll be doing a weekly video to share my progress each week and give myself a video pep talk. 'Cause you know, it would be embarrassing not to hit 50k after vlogging about doing so. I'd toyed with the idea of doing a daily video in November, but I think that's too much.

It's a busy time for freelancers to get winter queries in, so I've been doing a little of that and getting ready to dive back into writing a new Canterwoood Crest book. There's something...warming, I guess you could say, about writing a sequel. I already adored my characters, but now I love them even more! Sasha, my MC, is spunkier, funnier and smarter than she was in Take the Reins and it's an interesting process to grow along with her and the rest of my CC gang. I can't wait for you guys to meet them! :) These characters have been with me since November 2006 and it will be a blast to share them with others when 1/09 rolls around.

I thought the summer and fall would trickle by and time would just stall before Jan. But nope! What happened to May? It's almost gone. June's going to be a month of intense writing, as is July. Not to mention on July 27...six months away from publication. Six. Months. OMG. Yeah. That'll be the start of the PR plan and all of the crazy/exciting/busy stuff that goes along with it.

Okay, back to writing.

(I'm also testing out the Blogspot feature of having this post when I tell it to in advance, so apologies if it doesn't work. It might post twice for today (5-27).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chasing Harry Winston and holiday

The holiday weekend was great! I got a lot of little things done such as updating my Website that I’m building and writing an essay. We were hoping to go to the beach, but our beach was closed when 40 people got caught in rip tides and one guy died. Scary.

Instead, I tore through my TBR pile and finished an outline. I'm STILL working my way through THE HOST. I put it down for a couple of days and hope to resume reading it today. I started rereading Twilight for the first time yesterday. It's fun now that I know what to expect!

We also finished painting, yay! I would insert pics here except, well, I accidentally deleted them when I was taking video for a new Diary of a Debut Author Segment for next month. Urg.

I’m also verrrry excited because Lauren Weisberger’s new book CHASING HARRY WINSTON comes out today. Eee! Lauren did a video for S&S and you can check it out here: http://www.bookvideos.tv/videoid/1145.

Note to self: try to look as chic on camera as Lauren in my next Diary of a Debut Author vid…and damn, the Tallahassee skyline won’t look near as cool at the NYC shot in this video. :)

How was everyone's holiday weekend?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thanks and Happy Weekend!

Just a quick post on this holiday weekend, but I wanted to thank everyone over at SCWC blog for commenting on my video. Y'all are so sweet and I'm definitely going to keep making Diary of a Debut Author videos. :)

Everyone have a safe and happy weekend! My book bag is full and I'm ready to hit my porch with a Diet Coke and a cup full of watermelon and read:

BRALESS IN WONDERLAND -- Debbie Reed Fischer
HOW TO HOOK A HOTTIE -- Tina Ferraro
THE HOST (still plugging away) --you know, Stephenie Meyer
FOREVER IN BLUE -- Ann Brashares

PS- Check out Julie Prince's article in this month's SCBWI newsletter! Yay, Julie!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Author Visit: Jennifer Bradbury


Please welcome SHIFT author Jennifer Bradbury!

Book: When Chris Collins and Winston Coggans take off on a
post-graduation cross-country bike trek, Chris's hopes are high. He's
looking forward to seeing the country, dodging a dull summer at a
minimum wage job, and having one final adventure with his oldest
friend. The journey from Hurricane, West Virginia to the coast of
Washington state delivers all those things... and more.
So much more that when Chris returns home without Win at the end of
the summer, he's certain their 10 year friendship is all but over. But
when an FBI agent begins asking questions—and raising suspicions about
Chris—he learns that saying goodbye to a friend like Win is never as
simple as riding away. Shift offers an adventure story and a missing
persons tale spinning around a single question: What happens when you
outgrow your best friend?

Here we go...

What was the "oooh, I must write this book!" moment for you?

Honestly? I was just looking for something to keep me busy. I'd thought for years about building a story around a bike trip, but had trouble finding the plot and characters. Finally I decided to just sit down and force myself to plot it out, and characters and conflict emerged. There wasn't really a moment like the one you describe, but there was a moment after I had an outline and started a chapter that I sort of had a flash of insight knowing that it was going to work in a way that my earlier attempts at a novel had not.

What do you hope readers get out of Shift?

I hope they get a great story most of all. Beyond that, it would be cool to learn that some readers identify with the friendship dynamics between Chris and Win, and even better to learn that somebody gets inspired to bike cross-country or have an adventure that stretches and grows them in some other way.

Did you tell anyone when you were writing Shift?

Yes. My husband was actually with me in India where the first draft took shape, and I'd come home from the school where I was teaching each day with a new chapter. He sometimes forgot to greet me in his grab for the flash drive I kept it stored on. :) And I sent the first third or so out to some trusted readers back home before the book was even done, and most of them emailed back quickly to ask for more. I find that kind of encouragement invaluable when I'm drafting.

Your agent, Robin Rue, sold your book three DAYS after agreeing to represent you. Is that some kind of record? :)

It certainly is a record for me! I had no idea what I was doing (and mostly still don't) but Robin is amazing, so I bet she's gone faster. And she was quick to warn me the day before she sent it out that it might be a while, and that we might even have to revise after the first round before resubmitting. But she had a good feeling about the manuscript and my editor, whom she'd recently met and talked with. And she found the perfect fit for both of us.

Did your teaching exchange in India make a lasting impression on you?

Absolutely. I was teaching 11th grade while I was there, so it was amazing to see firsthand how similar kids are all over the world. Even though the educational systems are different and culture is different, there's something fundamental about being a kid that transcends all of that. We're planning to go back this winter to spend some time with friends we made while there. Travel of any kind has the power to alter who we are and how we see things. The fact that I was writing a novel about that while I was living it myself was sort of a way for me to process those changes.

You were a one-day winner on Jeopardy! That's so cool! Do you think that experience will ever pop up in one of your novels?

Thanks! It was a lot of fun. And it was one of those things that I kind of fell into (a bit like writing), but worked out really well. I don't know if I'll ever work it into a novel, but I'm not ruling it out. :)

Do you still bicycle?

Yes! In fact, to celebrate the release of Shift and the sale of my next book, my husband took me out and bought me a new Trek. Its blue and very fast and the shifters work perfectly! Probably most of my rides this summer will be with my daughter to the library or Fred Meyer, but we are planning a family trip up and down the Columbia River Gorge for July. We're trying to do a small bicycle trip every year to get her acclimated, and hope to take off on tandems with her and any other kids we eventually have to knock around other parts of the world. We've some good friends who have taken their 11 and 9 year old kids touring in Europe, and are planning to ride to Mexico this summer. We hope to be as cool as them! :)

What's next for you? What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I'll be revising my next novel for Atheneum this summer. Its tentatively titled APART, and I'm excited to start working on it. And I've got two other stories that I'm hoping we might submit soon, but they're very different from what I've written for Atheneum so far. We'll see. Mostly I'm looking forward to being outside in Washington--summers here are fantastic. So I'll have to tear myself away from the laptop as much as possible.
Bio: Jennifer Bradbury is a former high school English teacher,
cross-country cyclist, Fulbright exchange teacher, and one day
Jeopardy! champion. Currently, she spends her days seeking balance
between her roles of stay at home mom to a lovely, demanding two-year
old and a writer of often incorrigible first drafts. So far, her own
manuscripts are more prone to tantrums than her daughter.


JB: Thank you, Jen! SHIFT sounds like a great book and I can't wait to read it! :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yay David Cook!

Yay, David Cook! I thought Archie had it wrapped, but DC won! :)





And Simon's apology? Seriously? Either he thought he cost Cook the show (at that point) and thought Cook deserved to win but would lose against Archuleta OR he already knew Archuleta had lost. Interesting.

The night was great overall--one of the best finales ever. Carrie Underwood totally rocked it out. I loved her flow-y outfit.

Did your fav win last night?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Painting!

Pretty paint colors!
I heart Crimson Silk
What a soothing name


First, I had to draw a new winner for FRENEMIES! Marjolein, you win! Please e-mail me with your address to ship your prize. :)

So, we're painting this week! We started over the weekend, so I've been sleeping in the living room for a few days because my room was first and it smells paint-y. My room was a kind of starchy white and now it's a creamy, pretty French Vanilla color called "Innocence." Pics are coming!

The bathroom...oh, yes. It was a muddy/brownish/? color and now wait till you see. So. Lovely.

I was in awe of the many, many color choices. How much fun would it be to say, "Ah, yes my walls are "crimson silk" and my hallway is "violet bouquet." Mine aren't, but you get the idea. My bathroom, however, is now "Honeydew."

Thanks to everyone who wished my hand a speedy recovery! I'm not whining (so much) as I type today. ;) I'm trying to get a lot of work done early since I've got my hands on THE HOST and HOME (Julie Andrews' memoir) and I can't wait to get reading.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cat scratch...ow & news

So, I had a minor accident on Sunday evening.

It was almost 7pm and I just got back from a walk. All of our screen doors and windows are open because we’re painting. (I’ll show you the colors tomorrow!) I sat in front of the door leading out to the back porch and slid open the screen door so I could pet the outside cat who comes to visit. And eat. And get her fix of cat nip.

I’m petting her and she’s purring and being sweet. She’s also intrigued because the door’s open and that NEVER happens. She’s not allowed inside, since she’s not my cat and I’m not sure if she’s been in a house before. I’m guessing she’s an indoor/outdoor cat, but I really don’t know.

Okay, so I’m petting her and then in a flash, she rocks back on her haunches and leaps over my shoulder into the house. Remember how I said we’re painting? Yeah, all we need is for the cat to get into the paint and get sick. I’d feel awful! In the split second that I see her launching over my shoulder, I stick out my hand to grab her and I get just under the back of her stomach and somehow she manages to use my left hand as a launch pad. I feel a searing pain in my hand but quickly forget because there’s a strange cat in the house and she’s suddenly become super-freaked.

I manage to calmly herd her outside before she touches any paint. Whew. I go over to the kitchen sink and realize, “Oh. Blood. My hand’s bleeding.” I’ve had a LOT of cat scratches. You don’t work in a Humane Society for two years trapping feral cats and working with moody strays and not get scratched. But these scratches were pretty bad. The worst I've had. The adrenaline wears off and I take a peek at my hand as I start to wash it. And then IT happens. Yep, I faint. In the kitchen. My mom saves me from smacking my head on the ceramic floor and I come to with her fanning me with a towel. Lovely.

That’s my cat adventure for the week. :)

The hand, luckily, is my left one so it’s not the hand I wear my brace for carpal. Whew. I took a picture of it, but won't post it. It's just not pretty.

Edit:

Just wanted to share with you guys that my latest video was picked up by the Southern California Writer's Conference Blog. Thank you, Michael Steven Gregory! :)

http://scwc.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/diary-of-a-debut-author-video/

Monday, May 19, 2008

Diary of a Debut Author video and Frenemies winners

Okay! We have two lucky winners of FRENEMIES! Drumroll.... Sara and Book Adorer! Congrats! You two have 48 hours to e-mail (jessica [at] jessicaburkhart [dot] com) me your name and an address for Alexa to send the book. If I don' t hear from you within two days, I have to draw a new winner. Thank you to Alexa and check the sidebar for new contests!

Onto other things...

This is a new video that I made over the weekend. It's almost my one year anniversary in publishing since I got The Call that TAKE THE REINS was going to be a book. So, this video looks back at my year and shows a few things that I love and keep close to me. I hope you enjoy the video! :) (And isn't my shirt SO TTR appropriate?!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Author Visit: Alexa Young and a Giveaway!

Please welcome the fabulously funny author of FRENEMIES... Alexa Young!

Alexa today

Alexa in eighth grade. (Aww. So. Cute.)

BOOK SUMMARY:

Best friends Avalon Greene and Halley Brandon have big plans for eighth grade: Not only are they coauthoring a fashion column for their school’s online newspaper, but their celebration of their forever friendship is sure to be the blowout party of the year. But when the girls begin to disagree about…well, everything, these two besties turn into full-blown worsties. From sharing custody of their puppy, Pucci, to drawing up a list of who gets which friends, Avalon and Halley discover what happens when you battle the person who knows you best—and isn’t afraid to use your secrets to get what she wants.

Here we go!

What was one thing that kept you in your seat and working away on FRENEMIES?

Well, I guess the obvious answer would be the deadline—and that was a definite motivator (especially because the deadline was pretty tight!)—but honestly, as sappy as this sounds, it was the fact that I was incredibly inspired by the concept and the characters and was having so much fun with it (at least, most of the time). Also, working with a bunch of ridiculously talented editors made it not just enjoyable, but educational—and I was desperate to impress the hell out of them.


What chapter was the most fun to write?

OMG. That’s such a great question, and it’s so hard to pick just one. (Because, you know, every chapter is amazing and I am such a phenomenal writer.) Seriously, though, since you’re forcing me to choose, I guess I’d say “Wade’s World”—the chapter in which Halley goes to watch her crush and his band performing at a super-exclusive party. I won’t spoil it by revealing any of the other details, but I thought there were a lot of really funny and poignant moments. Honestly, all the scenes between Wade and Halley were fun to write because I got to go to that mushy, gooey, lovey-dovey, boy-crazy, lead singer-obsessed place that…um…I don’t miss at all now that I’m married. :)


How was the transition from writing magazine articles to penning fiction? What would you say to someone pondering that leap?

It was easier than I’d expected it to be—but then again, I expected it to be a major shift. Because of all my years as a magazine editor and journalist, I felt like I didn’t have a “fiction-friendly” voice. But as I mentioned, the concept of Frenemies—two best friends who become worst enemies—completely inspired me. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking about my own middle school experiences, as well as bits and pieces of my friendships and relationships in general. I also realized that perhaps I haven’t matured all that much since I was twelve or thirteen—which might be a bad thing in a lot of situations, but not this one. :) So, I almost immediately found the voice, I had the characters, I had what I needed to make the leap. Given all that, I guess I’d say that if and when you come up with an idea that feels really inspiring, just start writing. If you’re able to keep going and going (say, beyond a chapter or two), chances are you’ll finish the manuscript and you might actually sell it. BUT: Do not give up that day job! Of course the big dream is to one day focus exclusively on books, but for the moment I’m still writing for magazines on the side—partly because I enjoy it, and largely because I need the cash!


Did you reward yourself for finishing the book? If so, how?

Wait…the book is finished? You mean I can’t make any more changes? I’m kidding…sort of. I think I cracked open a bottle of champagne with my husband after getting word that my manuscript had been accepted. But I have to say, I need to be better about celebrating these kinds of accomplishments. I have a really hard time giving myself credit for anything I do. If it goes well, it must have been because of dumb luck or somebody else doing all the work. Of course, if it goes poorly I’m the first to take the blame! (Yes, I’m tragic.) I think the other issue is that books tend to go through so many drafts and revisions, it’s hard to believe it’s finished until I actually see it for sale in a bookstore.


What advice would you give to a girl dealing with her own frenemy?

Oooh, I could write a novel on that. Oh wait…! :) Honestly, it depends on the situation. If it’s a matter of two people heading down different paths and becoming radically different from one another (part of the problem with my Frenemies protagonists), I would say it’s worth just taking a step back, but not lashing out (like Halley and Avalon do) and not calling the relationship off altogether. Explore your separate lives and interests and, if you’re meant to work things out, in time you may get some perspective or circumstances may put you back in a place where you can or want to re-connect. Of course, if your friend has actually betrayed you, intentionally and maliciously, you obviously need to cut all ties with her. That can be easier said than done, but I think it’s important to let her know she’s hurt you, and to express your desire to end the friendship. (Don’t give her the silent treatment; try to make a clear break by telling her how her behavior affected you. She should be told!) Finally, if it’s a case where your friend has just slipped up—done something that may not have been intentional—and especially if there’s a long history there and a genuine desire to work things out, then you need to open the lines of communication and talk through the situation. Again, that can be easier said than done—but worth the effort. Part of why I was so inspired by the idea of Frenemies is that I think friendships can be so much more complicated than romantic relationships. I mean, you can’t exactly break up with a friend and then say, “But I hope we can still be friends…!” Or can you? (AHA!)


Describe yourself in three words.

Multiple personality disorder

JB note: LOL! :)

If you weren’t on a deadline and had a week off from writing, where would you go and why?

Oh, man…in a ridiculously ideal world (with plenty of money and a highly skilled babysitter, for starters), I would probably jet off with my husband to the Ionian Islands in Greece because we’ve been dreaming of going there for years and neither of us has been. Las Ventanas in Los Cabos, Mexico, is another one of our dream vacation spots. There are so many other places I’ve been wanting to revisit, too, like Galway, Ireland (where I studied for a year in college and where I still have friends); Siena, Rome and Florence in Italy (where I traveled after my year in Ireland, and where the food, coffee, art, architecture, and people are just amazing); and Lizard Island in Australia (where I snorkeled thisclose to the Great Barrier Reef as a teen). I guess I could write a novel on this, too. :) Maybe for my next series…?


What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects we can look for soon?

I’m cranking away on the second book in the Frenemies series, which is scheduled for a January 2009 release, and I’ll be writing a bunch of magazine articles that may or may not be of interest to your readers…but they should definitely check my blog or website in case I do pen something worth reading. (Hey, it could happen!)

JB note: In case you weren't already cracking up over Alexa's humor (which is definitely on in FRENEMIES...) I had to share a note from her... :)


Thanks so much for having me, Jessica. You are a lovely person, a great interviewer…and I’m still a little annoyed (er, I mean impressed) that you’re so accomplished at such a tender young age.

JB note: Oh, darn. I annoyed the guest, LOL. Thank YOU for coming, Alexa! Everyone, definitely check out FRENEMIES and hop over to Alexa's blog.

BIO:

ALEXA YOUNG spent the first several years of her professional life working in the music industry—for the legendary Capitol Records and the irreverently funny trade magazine HITS. She subsequently worked as an editor for the now-defunct teen magazine JUMP, as well as for the #1 women’s fitness magazine in the country, SHAPE. As a freelance writer, she’s contributed to a number of national consumer magazines, including Marie Claire, O: The Oprah Magazine and Family Circle. She holds a bachelor's degree in Literature/Writing from the University of California, San Diego, and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, son and dog. FRENEMIES is her first novel.

WEBSITE(S):

www.alexayoung.com

www.bestfrenemiesforever.com

BLOG:

www.alexayoung.blogspot.com

BUY THE BOOK (HARPERTEEN) LINK: http://www.harperteen.com/global_scripts/product_catalog/order_xml.asp?isbn=0061175617


Okay, if you like what you heard and you want to WIN, listen up! Alexa's giving away TWO signed copies of FRENEMIES to lucky commenters! To enter, leave a comment here (on Blogspot) or on LiveJournal. Or both places, if you so choose. On Monday morning, I'll draw one winner from Blogspot and one from LJ. You have until Sunday night at 11:59pm to enter. Good luck!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tagged!

I was tagged by [info]elmarshall, so here goes! :)

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Ooh, let's see. I was graduating from fifth grade and preparing to move from Tennessee to Illinois.

What are 5 things you need to do today?

1. Keep working on my PR plan for TAKE THE REINS.
2. IM session with a friend
3. Finish INK EXCHANGE so I can finally get back to work! :)
4. Walk 2 miles
5. Send a magazine query follow up

What are some snacks you enjoy?

* Crackers (esp. of the cheesy variety)
* Cherries
* Heart to Heart cereal (dry)
* Gum (does that count?!)

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

* Hire a hot gardener a la Desperate Housewives.
* Get a garden.
* Buy a log cabin in a rural area where it snows.
* Build a new wing at my local Humane Society
* Contribute to stem cell research.

What are 3 bad habits?


1. I worry about everything! Plus, I read into stuff that doesn't require it.
2. I'm a hopeless work a holic. Can't stop.
3. I'm a TV junkie. I could leave the TV on all day if Global Warming wasn't a cause for concern.

Name 5 places you have lived

Goodlettsville, TN
Ocala, FL
Effingham, IL (Okay, really Dieterich, but no one has heard of that town!)
Waynesboro, VA
Springfield, TN

What are 5 jobs you've had?


* Freelancer for magazines
* Staff writer for FSView & Florida Flambeau
* graduate assistant at College of Engineering at FSU
* Webmistress and foster parent (as a volunteer) for Humane Society
* Freelance poetry and magazine article editor

Thanks for tagging me, Em! This was so fun! I tag anyone who wants to play!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Who knew Florida had so many libraries?!

O.M.G. My brain is about to die. I swear. I just finished compiling a list of E-V-E-R-Y library (with branches!) in Florida along with phone number, address and name of children's librarian. You don't want to know how many pages long it is. It took 10+ hours to complete. But it's sooo worth it. Plus, I've been talking lots with my local librarians and am going to pick their brains again about libraries and how they work with authors.

Now, I'm working on a list of indies in Florida which is significantly easier to compile than the library list. I have to work on this in spurts when I can and since I have time today, I've been making serious progress.

This weekend, I'll be making a new vlog. Yep, it was almost this time last year when Take the Reins went out on submission and then I got The Call. The video should be fun, so look for that over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Posted at Teen Fiction Cafe

It's my day to post over at Teen Fiction Cafe! I posted about last night's Survivor finale and other TV shows ending this month. Come check us out! :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics at WishAFriend.com

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

Friday, May 9, 2008

New Blog Template :)

It was time for a change on the blog and as part of my summer relaunch of my blog, Website and other online presences, I started with the blog. I love the double columns and it gives me so much more room!

Hope you guys like it! :)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fall Florida Book Festivals

It has almost been a week since I’ve been home and things haven’t slowed down for a day. In between outlining and writing an assigned article for Children’s Writer, I also had one of those middle of the night ideas on Tuesday.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wracking my brains for a new MG idea because now I’m on a MG kick. Sure, they can’t be worked on for a while but I like to have them in my brain to toss around and flesh out. That’s how I worked on my new YA. Whenever I needed a break from my current project, I switched over to the YA and wrote a few pages a week. That quickly added up and soon it equaled a book.

Then. It. Hit. Me. I’ve got 4 Agent A approved YA ideas that all can be morphed into MG ideas. Woo hoo! :) Now, at least, the what MG idea is next thought is gone. Whew.

I got one rejection on a mag query yesterday, but not for the VIQ (very important query) I’m most waiting for.

I also got out my big (pink!) wall calendar and started marking off fall dates. It’s unbelievable but on July 27, it will be six months until Take the Reins hits shelves. OMG. The Jessica Burkhart Super Sized (and not at all insanely detailed with pretty pen colors) Publicity Plan for Take the Reins or (TJBSSPPFTTR—yeah, you try to remember those letters, LOL) kicks into action on that date. Eeeep.

I’ve also been looking at lots of cool festivals to consider for the fall—Festival of Reading (St. Petersburg), Sarasota Reading Festival, Vero Beach Book Festival, Midsouth SCBWI (Nashville), Southern Breeze SCBWI (GA, AL and MS), Florida Writers Conference and the Georgia Literary Festival.

Anyone been to any of those? I think it would be fun to check out the exhibits, walk around and meet people.

PS--Is there anything YOU'D like me to blog about in the near future? Questions? Comments? If so, leave me a comment.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Take the Reins is on S&S's Website! Woo hoo!

Just found this on S&S's Website... eeee!!! :)

Take the Reins

(Canterwood Crest)

By Jessica Burkhart
Cover by Monica Stevenson

This Edition: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 27, 2009
Our Price: $5.99

Availability: Ships on or around January 27

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Product Details

Aladdin, January 2009
Trade Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4169-5840-1
ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-5840-6
Ages: 9 - 13
Grades: 4 - 8

Or, view it here. It's a real book! :) Almost! Yay!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Waiting for the VIQ response

Veerry busy today. I'm working an outline (and cooking up evil mean girl tricks for a book...) and writing an article for Children's Writer. Yep, that big batch of queries I sent out at the end of April is starting to come back. Trickling, thankfully, but still coming. I've got a few windows open on my protesting laptop and am switching back and forth between the article, my outline and Dreamweaver for the new Website I'm designing for fall launch.

I got the SCBWI LA summer conference brochure yesterday. The line up looks fantastic! Wow. It's neat to "know" so many people on the speaking list and it sounds like it'll be a blast. Is anyone going? The date doesn't look as if it'll work for me, but I'll be reading lots of attendees' blogs to get the scoop.

I started blogging today as a distraction to keep myself from chasing down the mailman. I sent a VIQ (very important query) to a big, glossy teen mag about a month ago and I'm trying not to check the mail the second it is put into the box. The mailman prob thinks I'm a stalker because yesterday I almost took the mail from his hands to see if my VIQ had a response.

*dashes off to mailbox*

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weekend movies

Saturday was busy—I was adjusting to getting back home after my trip and editing. That night, I decided okay, I’m going to watch The Golden Compass since I completely missed it in theaters and *know* I’ll love it. I was super-happy that I finally had time to watch it. Very excited about my fav actress and the dashing Daniel Craig.

I get to an hour and forty minutes in and they start to play the “this is the end of the movie, get ready to exit the theater music.” I freaking jump out of my recliner and scream (thereby scaring parents and brother who almost dropped his soda) at the TV. Oh. My. Goddess. Was that the worst moving ending ever?! Plot and camera shots were just WEIRD. The last shot of lovely NK we see is of the back of her head, we wonder if Lyra will make it to her dad in time and did the poor kids get their daemons back? Sure, we know all of this from reading the books but I want to S-E-E it on film.

I Googled The Subtle Knife and it’s *supposed* to come out in 2009, but I’m not sure if that’ll happen with Nicole’s baby on the way and the domestic box office figures. Argh.

My brother was like, “Dude, it’s just a movie, calm down.” But I was pissed. Still am, actually. (He’d be mad, too, if he read the book.)

Then I watched one of my favorite comedies with Josh Duhamel and Kate Bosworth—Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. Silly, I know, I know. But I love it. Plus, if you watch the extras, Josh moons the camera. :) Maybe rent it just for that…

Sunday, May 4, 2008

2008 Kentucky Derby!

As I predicted yesterday (see Sat's blog post) Big Brown did win the Kentucky Derby! It was a gorgeous day for the races and Billy Bush did a pre-race hour of "Access at the Derby" that was so much fun. Big Brown started in the WORST post position at 20 waaay on the outside and he was one of the few horses ever to win from that position. He didn't dominate the field from the beginning, but took his time getting to the front and won by 5 lengths.

The other favorites, Pryo and Colonel John, just didn't fire yesterday. Pyro got blocked within seconds of being out of the gate and never overcame it.

But the race did end in tragedy. The only filly, Eight Belles, came in second and I was screaming that she did so well. She was galloping out after the race when she fell to the ground and never got up. She broke both ankles and was euthanized on the spot. That's an incredibly painful break and there was no chance she'd ever have a pain-free or normal life after that sort of injury. I couldn't imagine how her owners, trainers and the rest of the Fox Hill Farms family felt. She rallied to second and then had that happen. Sigh.

Aside from that, though, the stories of Derby owners and trainers were especially inspiring this year. The two co-owners for Gayego were Cuban immigrants who had been jailed under Castro and fought their way to the US. Another trainer was 70 years old and it was his first shot at a Derby win. One Derby contender was bought for only $4500.

Today, is my other favorite horse event--the Rolex Kentucky. It starts at 5pm EST on NBC and I tape it every year to watch the dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping when I need inspiration.

It's definitely a weekend filled with horses!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm baaack! :)

Somewhere in New England...I forget where...oops.

The view from our near-DC hotel! So lovely!

Sign says it all!

I'm glad to be back home and regularly scheduled blogging resumes next week. As you guys might be able to tell from the photos, none are from the photo shoot. It turned out to be a closed set, sorry guys! But the covers are worth the wait, trust me! :) I had the best time ever and loved hanging out with Agent A, Editor K and the rest of the crew.

Today, it's dreary out and I've been editing and...writing my dedication and acknowledgments. I thought it would be hard. It's really, truly not. I know exactly who helped me with this book and it's ridiculously cool to be able to thank them in print. I'm not telling any of my family and friends if they're on the page--I want it to be a surprise. Plus, for some of the most meaningful lines, I want to actually see their faces when they read it instead of telling them over the phone. So yeah, I'll be hitting the road then to physically hand them the books so I can see their reactions for myself since my family doesn't live in my current state of residence.

The trip was beyond fantastic and I'm going again at the very start of fall.

Today's the Kentucky Derby, btw. I can't wait. I watch it every year. I'd put money on Big Brown to win. Fingers crossed.

How was everyone's week?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Author Interview: Marissa Doyle


Marissa Doyle at a signing

Marissa's rabbit, Maple! :)

Bio: Marissa Doyle lives in Massachusetts with her family, far too many books and antiques she swears are just bought for research purposes, and a bossy pet rabbit. She likes listening to Bach, growing things, making quilts, and eating Juicy Pear Jelly Belly jellybeans.

Book summary: Persephone Leland would far rather devote herself to her secret magic studies with her governess Miss Allardyce--Ally--than plunge into the social whirl of the London Season. The only thing drawing her there this spring of 1837 is the prospect of seeing her idol, Princess Victoria.

Then Ally disappears, and Persy and her twin sister discover that she’s been kidnapped as part of a devious plot to enchant the soon-to-be queen. Persy also discovers that one should never cast a love spell after drinking too much brandy punch at a party, that pesky little brothers can sometimes be handy, and that even boys who were terrible teases when they were twelve can somehow turn into the most perfect young men…

Web Presences: www.marissadoyle.com, www.nineteenteen.blogspot.com


Why this story? What was the moment you knew you had to write BEWITCHING SEASON?

The idea for Bewitching Season came from a writing prompt exercise that we did in my local RWA chapter, where we all had to take the same sentence (“Oh my God, you’ve killed him!”) and write the beginning of a story using it as the opening. It was the mix of that with the biography of Queen Victoria I was reading at the time that sparked the plot--and as soon as that central idea gelled, I knew I had to write it. And yes, the opening line is still the same, just slightly modified.

How much research did you do?

A lot. Most of the broad history is already in my head, just because I’ve read so much of it over the years. But I really wanted to get the flavor of life in 1837 down for readers, so I tried as well as I could to get even small details right, like what colors were fashionable that year or what was served for refreshments at balls. Most of all, I wanted to communicate that this was a totally different world from today with a totally different culture and mindset...not just people wearing fancy dresses waltzing a lot. Women had almost no rights in early Victorian society, and girls didn’t even think of dreaming about living their lives in any other way than what their families and society dictated.

What were you doing the moment you first saw the cover for BEWITCHING SEASON?

Standing at my kitchen counter clutching a pair of shears, because my first view of my cover was on the ARCs my editor sent me. I do remember being almost afraid to open the package…what if I hated it? But I didn’t…and liked the revised version even better a couple of months later, and LOVED the full jacket. It’s beautiful and rich and elegant and makes you just want to pick it up and taste it with your eyes.

What’s your favorite genre to read and why?

All right, I’m weird…I mostly read non-fiction for relaxation, like historical studies and biographies and science. I recently finished an amazing book about the officer on Wellington’s staff who cracked the codes Napoleon’s generals and brother were using in Spain during the Peninsular Campaign--fascinating portraits of all the people involved including Wellington himself, who may have been a hero but was not a terribly noble human being. I think I love non-fiction because so often it’s even more odd and unexpected than fiction.

Who’s your favorite character in BEWITCHING SEASON?

Hmm. That’s a hard one. I had the most fun writing Charles, the main character’s little brother, because he could get away with being outrageous at times, and I liked writing the family’s mother, because she comes across as rather oblivious but is anything but. But Persy was like my best friend while I was writing her, so…

You’re the co-president of the Class of 2k8. That must be exciting! What’s new with the Class?

We’re mostly just plugging along, celebrating our members’ releases as they happen. One of the exciting parts about that, though, is seeing the wonderful book videos that our designers (Madison Meyer and Paige Feldman) come up with for each book.

Your rabbit, Maple, is so, so cute! (Now, I must get one…) What made you decide to get a house rabbit?

Cute? Cute? He’s the sweetest, handsomest, most adorab--oh, sorry. I get carried away sometimes. :)

I was originally a cat person (and still am)--my first cat, a beautiful apple-head Seal Point Siamese, came to live with us just before my 7th birthday, and she lived until just before I got married at 24. Unfortunately my husband is extremely allergic to cats. We’d resigned ourselves to being petless (I’m not a dog person) until my son volunteered us to baby-sit his classroom’s pet rabbit over a long weekend. We were utterly smitten. Rabbits are just as intelligent as cats and dogs, but very different--they’re prey animals, after all--so potential rabbit owners have a learning curve when it comes to their behavior and how to read them. Maple is litter-box trained and has the run of the house, sleeps under my bed at night, plays with toys (rabbits especially love noisy toys) and flips his food dishes around when he’s feeling cranky. He also loves to give me kisses. It’s much nicer to have your face licked by a creature with parsley-breath than one with tuna-breath.

What’s next for you? Any exciting projects to give us a hint about?

Well, the companion to Bewitching Season will be out next spring from Henry Holt--it tells what happens to Persy’s twin sister, Pen, when she goes to study magic in Ireland. And after that? You may not have heard the last of the Leland family…

Find Marissa's book online here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805082514/ref=cm_arms_pdp_dp


Great answers, Marissa and thank you for stopping by!

 
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