Don't worry! Canterwood Crest is FAR from over!
E-novellas to come with stories from Sasha & LT!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Author Visit: Mitali Perkins



Please welcome author Mitali Perkins! We're going red, white and blue and taking about the First Daughter books.

What was your writing background prior to writing your first novel?

I’ve always written, scribbling in diaries and journals from when I was about nine years old. Poetry, fiction, confessions about my crushes, prayers … you name it, I wrote it.

How did you get the idea for First Daughter?

Dutton wanted me to write a book about a president’s daughter, so it was their idea, but I added my own signature twist by making her adopted from Pakistan.

Why did you decide to make Sparrow’s family Republican?

I hunted around, and discovered that every other story for kids about a likeable president’s daughter, including books, movies, and television, was about a Democrat. I’ve gotten so used to being different, I can’t swim with the tide.

What would you say to a Democrat teen deciding whether or not to read First Daughter or First Daughter 2?

The book’s more about the process of a campaign, and really doesn’t have anything to do with the parties. If you just can’t stand it, feel free to cross out the word “Republican” in the book and put in “Democrat;” it won’t change a thing in the story.

What’s your writing process?

I write in a local coffee house because I like the background buzz and there’s no internet access. I also make my butt stay on the chair until I’ve written a certain amount of words, usually 1000 or 2000 a day.

What did you do when you wrote the last word of First Daughter 2?

Left for an RV trip across the country (from Massachusetts to California and back) with my hubby, sons, and two Labrador Retrievers.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

“Never give in,” as Winston Churchill urged his countrymen during WWII. My second novel, Monsoon Summer, was rejected over 20 times. I had to revise it so many times, my hard disk was chock-full of different versions. It was finally published ELEVEN years after The Sunita Experiment, my first novel. If you want to see a dream come true, you need thick skin, unflagging hope, and the determination to work hard, hard, hard.

In First Daughter, you infuse Indian culture with such seamless ease into the text. How did you do that without over explaining Indian culture to readers who may be familiar with it?

Wow, that’s a compliment, thanks! It helps that kids and teens as a whole are getting more familiar with Indian culture these days so you don’t have to cover as much of the basics. Also, all my life I’ve jumped back and forth between groups of people who know Indian culture and those that don’t.

What’s next for you? What’re you working on?

I’m revising a novel for Random House coming out January 2009 called The Secret Keeper about an Indian girl with big plans to come to America until tragedy strikes, and she has to find a way to keep her beloved sister safe.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Mitali! This was a great Q&A!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A weekend of horse movies

Ahhh, Viggo.

Never a better chick flick than something from Hallmark Entertainment.

And Zac Efron with a horse.


Over the weekend, I felt like I needed horsey inspiration before I dive into my next book in my series for Aladdin MIX. So, I got three horse movies, two of which I’ve never seen before.

The first, The Derby Stallion, came out in 2005 and stars Zac Efron. The film won several indie awards, but honestly, I just didn’t get it. The story was decent, but the odd camera angles and the fact that Zac couldn’t ride well, made for lots of cut away shots and not much horse action.

Next, I watched The Long Shot, from Hallmark Entertainment. It’s a made for TV movie and really, really good! There were lots of correctly done dressage scenes, which was perfect since dressage is my weakest area. Plus, I really liked Julie Benz and I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything else.

Finally, I watched Hidalgo (Viggo Mortensen, yum!) and loved it. It’s the second time I’ve seen it and I liked it more this time. The main horse, Hidalgo, is a Mustang and since my new YA is about Mustangs, it was good timing.

Anyone else use movies to give you inspiration for your latest manuscript?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I've got a podcast

So, I've decided to start a weekly or bi-weekly podcast in July or August.

No, I'm not going to be like the above Shock Jock. :)


It'll be a simple podcast about freelance writing, querying, agents, editors, books and other things in the middle grade and YA writing world. I've been thinking about doing it for a long time, but I finally took the plunge yesterday and set up my show site. The show can also be used for LIVE radio and I've been given a NYC number and up to 5 people at once can call in and chat. That sounds so fun! I'm tossing around the idea of having a couple of authors call in for a LIVE chat, but we'll see how it goes. I've got a book on podcasting and I'm trying to learn everything I need to before it gets started so the podcast is as professional as possible.

So, you'll "hear" from me this summer! Here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/JessicaBurkhart

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Raisin in the Sun with Sean Combs


Okay, so I'd heard lots of buzz for A Raisin in the Sun on ABC and I watched it last night. Sean Combs took the role of Walter Younger, Audra McDonald was Ruth and Phylicia Rashad played Lena. Sean talked up the film on Oprah a few days ago and it sounded like a good film.

I'd read the play a couple of times before and was excited to see the movie, even though three hours sounded like a looong running time.

That said, I loved it. Phylicia and Audra were brilliant although that seemed to be a bit of trouble for Sean. I kept watching and thinking, okay, Sean can't act well enough to make me feel the sympathy I had for Walter when I read the play. But in the movie, I didn't feel sorry for Sean's version of Walter until almost the end. It had to be daunting to be opposite Phylicia and Audra, but Sean's acting got in the way of me fully enjoying every aspect of the movie. (Sorry, Diddy!)

Anyone else see it? Or, if you've read the book, does it make you want to see the movie?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Prize Winner and Oscar chatter

The winner in the drawing for the QUAKING prize pack is…Elainareads! Congrats! Please e-mail me your name and mailing address to: jessica [at] jessicaburkhart [dot] com and I’ll send your info to Kathryn.

We’ve got a new interview coming on Friday, so come back then for a new Q&A. Hint: we’ll even get a little political!

Anyone watch the Oscars last night? I thought Jon Stewart was a good host. he made several fantastic jokes and kept the show moving.

The dresses were elegant and gorgeous! My favs in Cojo style:

Helen Mirren. Very red and in your face.
Marion Cotillard. Gorgeous back in that dress.
Jennifer Garner. Does she ever look bad?
Nicole Kidman. She wears pregnancy so well.
Saoirse Ronan. Her dress was one of the few that wasn't black or pastel. Lovely!

The men looked dashing, too. McDreamy in particular...

My question throughout the show--why didn't anyone fix that obviously slippery area by the mic when women in six inch heels were walking across the spot?

Show highlights: Marion Cotillard's acceptance speech, Jon Stewart allowing one of the writers of "Falling Slowly" to come back on stage, Amy Adams performing, Diablo Cody winning for best original screenplay for Juno, whoever decided to make Heath Ledger last in the tribute
montage and Cameron Diaz making everyone laugh and cheer when she bumbled "cinematography" and got her attitude on.

Worst moments: Ellen Page losing, the numerous odd montages, no Brad Pitt in sight and no extremely outspoken speeches about current affairs.

What did you think of the Oscars? Disagree with my best dressed?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Author Visit: Kathryn Erskine


Please welcome the author of Quaking, Kathryn Erskine!

First, how wonderful that QUAKING was chosen as a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers! That’s fantastic! How did you get the news? What was your reaction?

A good friend of mine called me early that morning as I was heading out of town to a critique group meeting. I was SO excited because encouraging reading is one of my goals as a writer. Writing a "Top Ten" book for reluctant readers, those who would rather do something other than read, hopefully means that my writing is compelling enough to make people WANT to read.

How did you come up with the plot for QUAKING?

I was concerned about why we were in Iraq and how people respond to war and violence in general. That's why I didn't make it Iraq-specific but it obviously speaks to our current situation. I also wanted to relate the issue of violence in war to a more personal level. Matt is going through her own post-traumatic stress syndrome. War or violence in any form has powerful effects on individuals and society. I wanted to raise questions and awareness but not necessarily answer the questions. Those are issues for thought and discussion. Finally, the Quaker tenets of peace and tolerance were a good backdrop for the story and gave me an opportunity to share with readers what I've learned about Quakers.

I’ve read reviews for QUAKING and they’ve been great. But how would you handle a bad review?

I firmly believe everyone has a right to say what they think and how they feel about a book. Books are subjective and are going to appeal to some people and not to others. The bottom line is you have to read a book for yourself to decide what you think. Nobody else can tell you how you feel about it.

I love QUAKING’s cover! Did you have any say in it?

I did but I think my editor had a much better idea. I'd love to claim it as mine! I think it's brilliant.

Did it take long to write?

It took a little over a year to write. Once it got picked up by a publisher there were revisions, of course, which helped tie the threads together and make it a stronger story.

When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies?

I love traveling, exploring just about anywhere and anything, walking, spending time with family and friends, playing games (card, board, strategy, Sudoku, etc.), and I've just taken up fencing (the sword kind) -- look for that in a future book!

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Oh, gosh, there are so many! Some of those who have influenced me through their work or their wisdom are Katherine Paterson, Patricia Reilly Giff, Judy Blume, Jerry Spinelli, Patricia Lee Gauch, Lois Lowry, and Christopher Paul Curtis.

Who's one author you haven’t met whom you’d love to meet?

Christopher Paul Curtis. I LOVE his writing and his voice is so funny and thoughtful and caring all at the same time that I can't help believing he's like that in real life, too.

What advice can you give first time authors who have a book coming out soon?

Try get your book and name out there. It's not something most publishers have time or money to do for you any more. Even if you're an introvert, like a lot of us are, you can still talk to friends and keep an active website. And don't get discouraged. Your local Barnes and Noble might not carry your book even if you get on ALA and VOYA lists (mine still doesn't) but that's a factor of upper management. A lot still seems to happen through word of mouth and small, independent book stores (love those guys!) so you can still get your book out there.

Are you working on anything new?

Since QUAKING, I've submitted a novel about a 14 year old boy that, while it has serious undertones, has some pretty wacky characters. Right now I'm finishing up a novel that handles serious issues but has humor, too. Next is either my novel set in Newfoundland, Canada or my historical novel, both written in draft but needing work. That's if I don't get sidetracked by my latest idea (another 14 year old -- yes, I seem to be stuck at that age!) or one of my many other novels in progress. So little time, so much to write!


About Kathryn:

Kathryn Erskine spent many years as a lawyer before realizing that she’d rather write things that people might actually enjoy reading. She grew up mostly overseas and attended eight different schools, her favorite being the Hogwarts-type castle in Scotland. The faculty, of course, did not consist of wizards, although . . . how did the headmistress know that it was “the wee redhead” who led the campaign to free the mice from the biology lab? Erskine draws on her childhood—and her second childhood through her children—for her stories. She still loves to travel but nowadays most trips tend to be local, such as basketball and tennis courts, occasional emergency room visits, and the natural food store for very healthy organic chocolate with “life saving” flavonoids.
Summary of QUAKING:

After years of being batted around, fourteen year old Matt has learned to rely on herself at school and everywhere. Biology is good. I am an expert. We are studying morphing, but I have already morphed. I have my own exoskeleton. . . I have spent years developing my armor and I will not let it be pierced. She must call on all of her resources to handle Mr. Warhead, the Rat, and the Wall at her new school, not to mention the Beast in her head. But somehow it is even more difficult to cope with the warm Quaker family, her "last chance," who has taken her in. Why does Jessica insist on acting like a mom? Why can't their little boy with his gack covered fingers just leave her alone? And why does Sam have to care about her--and everything--so much? Doesn't he realize that only gets you hurt? And even though Matt knows that pain very well, why is she finally letting down her armor and allowing herself to care?

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0399247742


Kathy's generously giving away ONE signed copy of QUAKING and tattoos of the jacket and peace stickers to a lucky commenter! Leave a comment on Blogger, Live Journal or both spots to be entered. Your comment must be received by Sunday at 9pm. A winner will be drawn at random and announced on Monday. Good luck!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tomorrow's guest: Kathryn Erskine

Tomorrow's guest is Kathryn Erskine! Kathy's giving ONE lucky comment a signed copy of Quaking, temporary tattoos of the book jacket and peace stickers. Check back tomorrow for the Q&A and enter to win.

And I'm going to actually take the day off! I've got a hair appointment and am coming home to watch a movie, slather on a face mask and paint my nails a cheerful spring color. I felt like I needed a day after finishing my new YA before I jump into something new. Know the feeling? It's cold and rainy outside so it's the perfect day. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tagged for 5 random things

I was tagged by Jan for five random things, so here goes!

1. I'm really short. Barely 5 foot 2, to be exact. My younger brother (16) is almost 6 foot 5. Who looks like the baby sister? Yeah, me. Everywhere we go. Argh.

2. I love pens. Seriously. I have zillions of them, some I use and some I save. My favorite colors to write with are dark green, dark purple and pink.

3. I'm addicted to tea. Green, white, herbal and red are my favs. Not a huge drinker of black tea, but I love iced black tea in the summer. I also keep a log off all of the teas I've tried and rate them based on whether I liked the taste, brand, etc.

4. I want a squirrel. Yep, in my house. Think Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she says, "Daddy, buy me a squirrel." :)

5. I don't like monkeys. At all. Never have for some reason. Sorry Diana and Jen!

If you want to play, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Edits are complete!

Whew. I just finished my fourth round of edits on my new YA. That means...it's finished! After one more round of reading and checking for silly grammar mistakes, off it goes! I'm so, so excited to have that *this close* to being finished. Getting the draft down was exciting, but I'm ready to have someone else read it and give me feedback.

I sent a two magazine queries out this weekend because it felt, well, weird not to have any queries out there. I've just been accepting assignments as they come and not querying, but I'm trying to break into bigger, glossier mags this year and I've got to at least send a couple queries.

Before I started writing fiction, at my peak of magazine querying, I had 30 queries out at once. So you see how zero feels odd. But I do think taking a short break from magazines and writing only fiction has helped, but I'm at the point where I can slowly start working on breaking into different magazines while keeping my focus on books.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blogging @ Teen Fiction Cafe

I blogged at Teen Fiction Cafe about road trips with my dad, singing on a restaurant table and country music. :)

Check it out here: http://teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jackie Chan promotes equestrian Olympics



I found this article "Chan promotes Olympic equestrian events" on Yahoo.

I'm a fan of RUSH HOUR and it's so cool to see Jackie lend his celebrity to increase awareness of the equestrian events in the Olympics in Hong Kong this summer. He's bringing lots of attention to a sport that's often underrepresented. :)

He has photos on his Website, too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Books to Movies in 2009 and beyond

So, The Spiderwick Chronicles released yesterday. Did anyone see it yet? I haven't, but I'm excited to go.

TSC got me thinking about other children's books that could be coming to the big screen in 2009 and beyond. I did some digging and here are a few of the possibilities:

Life of Pi (book by Yann Martel)
Girl of the Moment (book by Lizabeth Zindel)
Beastly (book by Alex Flinn)
Ramona (We're probably all familiar with Ramona Quimby!)
Almost Home (book by Jessica Blank)
The Alchemyst (book by Michael Scott)
The Lightning Thief (book by Rick Riordan)

Pretty exciting, huh? I adored Beastly and it would make a fantastic movie for sure.

Know of any others that I didn't mention? When I was searching, I noticed that a lot of upcoming kids movies had one glaring theme--girl power. Yep, girls are taking bigger, stronger roles and being adventurers, princesses and cowgirls. Yay for girls doing it all!

Also, I wanted to thank everyone who e-mailed me or found me through my contact page since The Writer article came out. Thanks so much for your kind words and I'm glad to have made so many new contacts over the past week because of it. :)

TGIF! What are your weekend plans? I've got to edit and update my poor, ignored contact roster. I've got a thousand sticky notes with people's names and info that haven't made it into the book. Sigh.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!! I made those cookies yesterday and yep, some are a little misshapen, but that's okay. My favorite part is dying the frosting to the ideal pink. :)

Tomorrow, I'm chatting about The Spiderwick Chronicles and other books to films that are going to pop up in 2009 and beyond.

Anyone have V-Day plans? <3

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writers' Strike Ends

One word: YAHOO!!!

After three months of striking, the writers have finally reached a deal with studios. I'm so thrilled everyone will be back to work soon. Anyone else ready to have annoying reality TV like "The Moment of Truth" disappear?

What favorite show of yours was hit by the strike? I miss Pushing Daisies, Housewives and Grey's.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winners and NaNoEdMo

We have winners in Beckie Weinheimer's contest!

Will.... Miss Information and Britlitfantwin email your addresses to me ASAP? Send those to jessica [at] jessicaburkhart [dot] com. Congratulations!

Thank you for stopping by, Beckie. Your interview was so much fun! :)

Onto other things, March is the start of...NaNoEdMo! I signed up over at the site to pledge to spend 50 hours in March editing a novel. Want to join me? Em promised to sign up and I'm looking for more to join in. The group is a LOT smaller than NaNoWriMo, but it's growing.

Okay, I'm off to research. Anyone going to NaNoEdMo with me?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Author Visit: Christine Norris

Please welcome author Christine Norris!

What made you sit up and say, "I have to tell this story?"

Wow, that's right to the point, isn't it? Let me see. I had the idea for this book, this series, way back in...2004, maybe? I think I wanted to write a bunch of shorter stories about a magical library. Because to me, magic IS in the words, always has been. There's something so...mystical, I guess, about writing. The process still amazes me, how our human brains can pull a story together. When I sat down to write it, it developed into something so much more than that. I've kind of mapped out the rest of the series in my head, and it's going somewhere I never imagined when I first had the idea. It's so much bigger now. I was talking about it to another writer, and she said to me, "This could be your signature work." Which is really, just, a mind-boggling idea to me.

Did you do any research for your novel?

This novel and the next one are heavily researched. Becasue they entail a lot of mythology, I spent a great deal of time looking at Greek mythology. Not as much as I did for the next book, which is based in Egyptian mythology. That one was more difficult to wrap my head around. The third novel (in progress) involves Chinese mythology, which has proved to be even MORE difficult. I take artistic license with many things, but I at least want to know what I'm taking license WITH. LOL.

I also use a lot of maps. THE CROWN OF ZEUS has scenes inside The Parthenon. Wanting to be as accurate as possible, I called up an interior schematic of the temple, to kind of put my characters in the proper space. It was very helpful. For the second book, I had a small map of Egypt I used, because there is a lot of traveling from place to place.

Where do you do your best writing?

That depends. Some days I just sit with the laptop in my living room, TV on. Sometimes I need the quiet of my bedroom. When life gets really busy, I take a notebook to work and handwrite, then come home and type it all up. That way works well, because I have the seeds planted and I just need to cultivate them. I usually wind up with twice as much typed material as I had handwritten, because I get on a roll. I also seem to write better in the evenings. I just can't get it started in the mornings for some reason.

What are you reading now?

I have a large stack of TBR books. ALEX AND THE IRONIC GENTLEMAN, by Adrienne Kress, and SEARCH FOR THE RED DRAGON, by James Owen, are on the top at the moment. I also have some classics here in the stack, like FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, which was just reprinted last fall and is one of my all-time favorites.

If your character were real, what would he or she think of you?

Oh, sheesh, I don't know. She'd probably think I'm some old lady. LOL. Actually I hope we'd get along well, and she'd think I was cool. I'd love to live in her house, I can tell you that!

If your book were a movie, whom would you like cast to play the main characters?

Hmm...I've often thought about THE CROWN OF ZEUS as a movie. I honestly don't know. I'd like to think we'd be able to do something like they did with the Harry Potter movies and cast some great unknown young actresses to play the four girls. It'd be interesting to see who would fit in those roles, because they're all so different, and they pretty much carry the whole story. Everyone else is just background.

Give us a one-sentence sales pitch for your book.

Ah...this is the tagline from the publisher's website: Which is worse: Having to start life over, or being eaten by a Minotaur?

What are you working on now?

Well, we'll be starting on the edits for the second Library of Athena book, THE ANKH OF ISIS, which comes out in e-book format in July. Somewhere in between college courses and work and all that stuff, I have the third novel to finish. That's my main project for 2008 at the moment.

About the author:

Christine Norris is the author of several works for children and adults. She spends her time divided between her writing, substitute teaching, and caring for her family of one husband-creature, a son-animal, a large dog whose greatest achievement is sleeping in one position for an entire day, and a small feline who is very adept in his position as Guardian of the Bathtub. She also works at English Adaptations of novels translated from other languages.

To learn more about Christine Norris, please visit http://www.christine-norris.com. Send an email to Christine at risseybug@aol.com or through her MySpace page, at http://www.myspace.com/christinenorris.

A little info about the book. Title :THE CROWN OF ZEUS (The Library of Athena, Book One)

Publication date: February 19, 2008 (this is the e-book release date. Samhain does print ten months after e-book release)

Publisher: Samhain Publishing (www.samhainpublishing.com )

Thank you, Christine!

**Winners in the CONVERTING KATE giveaway will be posted tomorrow!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just a note....

Just a quick announcement that if you need future information for the Class of 2k9, please send an e-mail to theclassof2k9 [@] hotmail [dot] com. I had to withdraw due to the time constraints I realized I'd have in 2009, but for the lowdown on the class and how to apply, check here: http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=25162.0.

Comments have been disabled for this post.

Check back tomorrow for my special Monday Q&A with author Christine Norris!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Author Visit: Beckie Weinheimer

Please welcome author Beckie Weinheimer!


First, congratulations on having Converting Kate being chosen as one of ALA’s 2008 Best Books for Young Adults. That’s fantastic! How did you react when you heard the news?

I was busy writing something else and noticed a congratulations email from a friend in Virginia in my email in box when I took a break. I could not believe it. I clicked on the link she provided three times and then printed it out to make sure I was really on the list!

Then my editor emailed to congratulate me and I guess then I started to believe it really had happened.

In Converting Kate, I noticed that you seem to use the setting of Maine in two ways. First, it’s a little dark and gloomy, but this is where Kate finds a lightness and happiness with her journey of discovery. Does setting play an important role in the novel?

That is such a good question. Since finishing Kate, and working on three other novels right now, I have realized that setting to me is almost as important as my main character. It is very important for me to be in love with the setting. Maine can have clouds which may make it appear gloomy, but they go away and people from Maine are known to say, if you don’t like the weather, just wait it will change. And I guess I felt that fit with Kate’s moods. Also she had moved from the desert, and although it is very sunny in Arizona, it is also brown and Maine, at least in early September, is green, vibrant and flowers are in blown everywhere. It feels so alive! And then with the ocean, instead of sand, and brown, well I felt that this setting, with the contrast from Phoenix (where I spent my own high school years) would cheer her up. I vacation to Maine every summer and the beauty of that place always moves me. The first time I went to Maine was the summer my oldest daughter died. I was very sad and very low, but somehow the scent of the pines, the beauty of the ocean, the ever changing clouds, all brought me peace.

Kate’s mom, a very conservative woman, is such a strong character. How did you form her to be so realistic and forceful, without making her seem like a caricature?

In truth it was very hard. She was my hardest character to work with. I was very angry at the way I had been raised and the way I saw children in strict religious homes being raised and I wanted to make the Mom very mean. But I worked on Converting Kate while I was getting my MFA at Vermont College, and one of my mentors, Adam Rapp, worked and worked with me, to give the Mom some sympathetic traits. And by the time I was done finding ways in which to make her more sympathetic, I found my own anger towards women who were raising their children like Kate was being raised, was diminished. I had more empathy for them. So it really was a great growing experience for me. You should have seen Mom the first draft. Wicked, mean, heartless!

What were you doing when you got the call that Converting Kate was going to be published? How did you celebrate?

I was in my home in Virginia. The first manuscript I wrote was also being shopped by my agent at the time, and to be honest, I cried because it wasn’t the other book. I am doing a major rewrite on that novel right now and because it is very close to my heart and my own life it is harder to achieve the right distance. Not that Kate isn’t close to me, or based on my own emotional experience. But this other book is different, and harder for me to write. My husband pointed out that I would probably have a much easier time trying to sell my other book, now that I had a publishing contract. And I realized he was right, and I realized all at once--oh my gosh--someone, Viking, a really good publisher, bought my book! And then the reality began to set in and I was so happy. I started emailing everyone I knew who wasn’t from my past and wouldn’t hate me for writing about growing up in a strict religion! I’m not exactly the pride of my former community and heritage for what I have done. But I am lucky to have many dear people in my life who were very happy and proud for me.

What’s something writing Converting Kate taught you?

I have learned so much from writing this book, but probably most important is to write from your heart and not worry about whether or not a book has sale potential. When I wrote the first draft of Converting Kate I was warned by published authors I trusted that books about religion probably would not sell to the teen market. But I felt so strongly about writing this, that I went ahead.

What do you hope teens take away from your book?

If my readers could take away a feeling of hope, a sense that life has options and the courage to follow their own spiritual path, regardless of whether their parents approve or not—I would be very happy.

I love the fishing trips that Kate takes. Did you do any research for those parts?

Yes. I went on lobster boats, interviewed lobster workers (trying to be PC here even though they are all called lobstermen in Maine) and wrote one lobster worker several emails. I hope I did enough. But it was fun and I learned a lot.

For writers tackling often controversial topics, do you have any advice?

I would tell writers who dare to consider tackling controversial topics to do it. Go forth with heart and passion and trust that there will be readers out there who want to read what they have to say. I have received the most rewarding emails from teens and adults who say they know exactly how Kate felt because that was like their own journey.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

So Many! I have three novels duking it out in my head right now, all trying to take center stage. I wrote Converting Kate and the other novel I have not sold at the same time and it seems to work well for me, to work on more than one project at a time. Two of the three I am working on now are also tackling somewhat controversial topics and the other, is a lark, so fun, it makes me laugh as I write it or even think about it. It is about a 14 year old girl who time travels back to the year 1850 in Wales. I spent my whole advance from Converting Kate to spend a month on the coast of Wales and had the most lovely time doing research for this novel.

About Beckie Weinheimer

Hi, my name is Beckie Weinheimer. My first YA novel, CONVERTING KATE, Viking Books, 2007 is about a sophomore girl named Kate Anderson who is trying to figure out the difference between faith and religion, find peace with the death of her non-believing father, figure out guys, learn how to deal with public school, (she's been home-schooled) and a lot of other things.

I was raised in a really conservative religious background and this inspired my story. But Kate is fiction, the church she grew up in The Church of the Holy Divine is fiction.

I have lived in Utah, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, California, Virginia and now I live in Queens New York in a high rise. I love it. I live near a park so I go walking and listen to books on my MP3 player. I love reading more than I love writing, but I think reading/listening to so many book helps me be a better writer.

I have two adult daughters who are really cool and pretty and smart (because they take after their dad--ha ha!). Seriously I do love my husband, who wouldn't love a guy who left his church over you and got up at five a.m. every morning so he could edit CONVERTING KATE. He's my hero!

I also had a daughter that died when she was twelve. She was the love of my life. She had cerebral palsy and was deaf and I learned so much from her and I will always miss her. I learned from her that people are different. We just come wired that way and that made me really think the whole gay issue with my church. I couldn't believe someone would really choose to be gay, any more than my daughter chose to be born with her disabilities. So I finally left my church and speak out against homophobia any time I can. You get to do that more when you write a book! :)

I love to do email and love to hear from my readers good or bad reviews. It means a lot to me. I also love to encourage other writers no matter their age. My favorite word is inclusion. The word I hate the most is exclusion!


I want us to be all one big happy earth family. Okay, I'll admit, I'm a total optimist and idealist. But I have fun in my little bubble of hope!

Website:

http://www.beckieweinheimer.org

On Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Converting-Kate-Beckie-Weinheimer/dp/0670061522/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202483553&sr=8-1

All right! Beckie is giving away 2 signed copies of Converting Kate! This is a special giveaway because the deadline to enter has been extended to Monday, February 11 at 9pm. The winners will be announced on Tuesday morning. Leave a comment here, on LJ or in both spots to be entered.



Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tomorrow's guest: Beckie Weinheimer

Finally, back to blogging after being away from the computer most of the day yesterday due to excruciating back/neck pain. Even though I had back surgery for scoliosis just over seven years ago, the back still acts up every once in a while. But it's better now.

Tomorrow (very exciting!) we've got award-winning author Beckie Weinheimer. Beckie has 2 signed copies of Converting Kate to giveaway. Look for her Q&A and giveaway details posted here tomorrow morning.

And coming from a Nashville native, was anyone in Tennessee affected by the storms? Or any other blog readers from the South? I've got to make phone calls to check on a few people.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Anyone NOT love Super Tuesday? I'm a political junky and will be watching the news tonight with coverage on elections. We (I think you all can figure out which party I'm speaking of) did not have our votes counted this year because of another Florida snafu. Sigh. Anyone voting today or already voted?

In the spirit of embracing today, in a sort of weird way, I'm changing my hair color. Yep. Might go a bit lighter or a bit darker. Not sure. I've been my natural color (see sidebar photo) for 3 years. But before that I was platinum blond (that didn't last six months), red (fun!), orange (due to an unfortunate Sun In incident) and light brown. I'm prepping for my new author photo that I'm having taken with a horse. :)

Anyone else a big chameleon? Or do you stay au natural?

My favorite Super Tuesday site? Rock the Vote.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Winners, Red Hills Horse Trials and more

While the rest of the country is watching the Super Bowl (major yawn!) I thought I'd post tonight instead of tomorrow. This week is going to be crazy.

Keri's contest is now closed and we have winners. Keri generously decided to give away TWO copies of SCREWBALL and two softball charms. Thank you, Keri!

Drum roll, please….


Nicole B and Emma


Congratulations! Please email me jessica [@] jessicaburkhart [dot] com with your names and mailing addresses.

Keri, you’ve been a fantastic guest and please stop by for your next book!

Onto other things…

The Class of 2k9 is officially taking applications. If you’d like one, send an email to theclassof2k9 [@] hotmail [dot] com. We’ll get you one ASAP. If you’re not sure what the Class is, check out www.classof2k7.com and www.classof2k8.com for the details.

Also, the guest this week is author of CONVERTING KATE, Beckie Weinheimer. Beckie will be here on Friday with a Q&A and a giveaway. The schedule’s changing next week, as noted in the sidebar, and we’ll have Christine Norris here on Monday.

I spent the weekend editing my YA and wow, what a mess. You’d think after three drafts you’d say, “Hey, looking good!” No. Maybe I’ll say that after this edit. The plot is fine, but I think I crossed out every other sentence on my printed draft and wrote RW (for rewrite) in pink.

On Friday, a friend reminded me that the Red Hills Horse Trials (a huge international eventing competition) is coming to town in mid-March. I’ve never been and if I’m in town that weekend, I’m SO going! It would be the perfect chance try for a couple of interviews and to do a write up of the event for magazines. I applied for a Red Hills press pass, so hopefully my application isn’t too late. If you get a press pass, you get special access to the cross-country course and a chance to go into the stables. We’re talking former and current Olympians for the US Equestrian team at this event. So exciting! Even if I don’t get a press pass, I hope to go and take tons of pictures and a few minutes of video for the multimedia section of my Website.

Happy Super Bowl watching! :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Author Visit: Keri Mikulski


Please welcome author Keri Mikulski!

Summary of SCREWBALL:

Things have been sweet for fourteen-year old freshman fastpitch fanatic Ashley Clarke. She’s happy and content as the starting pitcher for her stress-free fourteen and under ASA team. During her time away from the diamond, she’s either sprinting down the soccer field, bouncing a basketball, or hanging at the beach with her BFF, Lizzy.

But one sizzling summer day, hottie junior jock Andrew spots her at a pizza shop and Ashley’s life changes forever. Meanwhile, her friend, Kate, talks her into joining the Crush, an elite sixteen and under team loaded with tough competition. Shortly after playing in her first game, Ashley finds out new Crush teammate Christy not only hates her guts, but is determined to ruin Ashley’s future for good.

Join Ashley as she struggles juggling sports, school, and a social life. Will Christy and her cronies force Ashley to quit the Crush? Or will she give it all up to spend more time with Andrew? And who’s the new guy in Ashley’s life complicating things?

Q&A:

Why did you write Screwball?

I wrote Screwball because I love to read and as a teen, I never could get my hands on really good books with a female athletic main character. By really good, I mean, books that are juicy and light, but yet have that female girly girl sports spin. Kind of like a cross between, “Bend it Like Beckham” and “The OC”, but a book.

How long did it take to write from idea to finished product?

I’ve always had the idea of my fastpitch fanatic main character, Ashley, but I never actually sat down and wrote it until January of last year. I guess it took about a year of writing and revisions to get to the finished product.

How did you come up with that fantastic title?

Thank you.
One day while training for a 5K with a friend, the idea of the title kind of landed in my brain. It’s kind of freaky. That’s why if you’re a writer, you should always carry a little notebook for moments when an idea suddenly pops in your noggin.
The word, screwball, has many meanings throughout the book. It describes two characters and it’s also Ashley’s best pitch (and mine a bizillion years ago).


How long have you been writing?

Okay, if there was a category for Most Likely to Never Write a Book in high school, I might have won. I was focused on sports, but I always secretly liked to write in a journal and write out my thoughts when I had a problem. Actually, I remember writing out what I was going to say when I had a fight with my boyfriend, which was like everyday, and referring to it when we were shouting at each other over the phone, so I didn’t forget any important points. Professionally, I’ve only been writing for about a year and a half.

Which character do you most admire in your book and why?

I would have to say, Jake. I admire Jake because he does his own thing, doesn’t worry what other people think, works hard, and overcomes great adversity to accomplish his goals. I really admire people like that who don’t wallow in their own grief or misfortunes and are able to stay so focused and so positive.

What’s your advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t worry about what others say about your writing. Just do it! Learn as much as you can about the craft. But, most importantly, grab a journal and start writing about everything that comes to mind. Remember, your voice is special and unique, so work with it, not against it. Be confident and be yourself.

Which authors inspire you?

Many authors inspire me. But, my all-time favorite author is fellow Jersey shore girl, Megan McCafferty. Her series’ main character, Jessica Darling’s, voice is just so real and true. I interviewed her for my column a couple of months ago and she posted the interview on her blog this January. It was an amazing experience interviewing my writing idol.

What do you hope readers gain from reading the book?

I hope readers escape the craziness in their lives by reading Screwball. I also hope readers can identify with Ashley and use her as a tester and see how she deals with a lot of the same issues teens face today. Does she make the right decisions? What could she have done differently?


Bio:

Keri Mikulski was born and raised in Maple Shade, New Jersey. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson University and earned a Masters degree from The College of New Jersey. She's the Chick Lit Pick columnist for South
Jersey Mom
magazine, blogs softball for www.prettytough.com, and contributes regularly to Fastpitch Forever magazine. An athlete her entire life, she enjoys coaching her high school softball team, watching grannies pass her while running 5K's, chasing golf balls, Coach bags, and Derek Jeter. Keri lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband and daughter. This is her first novel. Visit Keri: http://www.kerimikulski.com or http://www.myspace.com/kerimikulski.

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Screwball-Ashley-Clarke-Keri-Mikulski/dp/0979690803

Keri's giving away one copy of SCREWBALL and a soft ball charm to one person who leaves a comment before 9pm this Sunday. Leave a comment here, on LiveJournal or both. Good luck!

 
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