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:

St. Paul
Washington, DC
St. Louis
San Fran

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: I think I remember this from last year, but go Elf Yourself!

Monday, December 17, 2007


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.

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!

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 and for the details. If you'd like to request an application, send an e-mail to theclassof2k9 [@] hotmail [dot] com.


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:


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

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?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday fiction & The Luxe

A few weeks ago, I read Mistletoe (a collection of holiday YA short stories) and really enjoyed it. Anyone else read it?

I'm looking for more holiday fiction. Any recommendations?

Tonight, I'll wave goodbye to November! :) I think The Polar Express is on ABC, so I might give that a shot. Or curl up with a new book-- The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. If the book is as good as the cover, it's sure to be fantastic!

PS- I got a very cool e-mail yesterday that I'll share with you guys next week.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas tree and fireplace pic

Here are some pics I took of our Christmas decorations. I was quite proud of how our tree turned out this year! What do you think?
And how's everyone doing in NaNo? I dropped off a while ago and my monthly total hovers around 26k. So sad! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Break plans, Mel B loses Dancing and Holiday Movies

It's amazing how fast this month has flown by! It seems as if the publishing world is starting to slow and with that comes time to rest and prep for next year. Instead of setting New Year's goals now, I'm deciding on goals for winter/Christmas break. Does anyone else do that?

So far, my list looks something like this:

* Finish writing book two

* Send out at least 10 magazine queries (2 at least to new magazines I've never queried or haven't broken into)

* Organize my mountain of papers on book publicity

* Watch season 7 of Gilmore Girls on DVD

* Read! Lots!

That's what I've got so far. I might be traveling a bit, but I'll still be able to write in the car and get those queries out. I won't send them over Christmas break, though. Just prep them and have a batch ready to go next year. I've been having more time to do that recently since I've been foregoing regularly scheduled TV to watch the Christmas specials. Last night it was Charlie Brown and tonight it's Shrek the Halls and the Grinch--my favorite.

And did anyone see Dancing with the Stars last night? I love Helio, but I was SO sad about Mel B! I voted for her all season. It's only the second time I've voted during a Dancing season. In season one, I backed Kelly Monaco since I'm a big General Hospital fan. I was completely addicted to the Spice Girls when I was a kid, so it felt very nostalgic to see Mel B on TV. (PS- could Maks be any more adorable?!) :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Support UNIFEM and Nicole Kidman's petition

As an interruption to regularly scheduled blogging, I wanted to post a link to UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) and offer blog readers a chance to add their name to a growing petition to help end violence against women.

Nicole Kidman, a Goodwill Ambassador for the cause, has several messages on the Website and adds nice celebrity strength to the cause. I signed the petition last night at number 99 and now there are over 2000 signatures.

Here's the link if you'd like to take a look:

This is an important cause! If you saw Sunday's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the family EMHE helped was of a woman who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. First she was stalked, he threatened her with knives, she filed a restraining order and then the man killed the woman and her boyfriend. This is still an active problem and I hope you'll take a couple of minutes to look at the link.

Muchas gracias. :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

JK Rowling Entertainer of the Year says Entertainment Weekly

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! I took Thursday and Friday off and did nothing but eat, watch movies and play card games with my family. We had a blast! :)

Did anyone else see this Entertainment Weekly named JK Rowling as entertainer of the year. Wow! Congratulations to her! Very well deserved.

Also, if you're looking for a cool, new anthology, check out The World of the Golden Compass. It's edited by Scott Westerfield and has essays by several amazing YA authors including Diana Peterfruend.

Remember to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday! :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things I'm Thankful For This Year

First, I'm so happy to annouce that I'll be speaking to a graduate class at FSU next Tuesday. I'll be sharing my story of freelancing and novel writing with the students and hopefully can answer a few questions about what I've experienced. I'm nervous, but excited! :)

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

The Serious

Parents: My parents have been amazing throughout this entire ordeal. When I told them in April that I was going to put off grad school to seriously pursue writing they were right behind me.

Friends: I've lost and gained friends this year. I've let go of friends who dragged me down. I lost touch with a few friends and reconnected with others. MySpace connected me to a friend I hadn't talked to in 5+ years and it's wonderful to have her back in my life. I've also made many new friends and I'm glad to have you all in my life!

Health: I went through rough patches years ago, as did others in my family, and I'm glad everyone is doing well this year.

Direction & drive: I'm not afraid to stand up and say, "yes, I'm a writer!" Before, it felt like a cartoon I saw in The Writer. The person tells a stranger he's a writer and the stranger says, "Okay, but what do you do for money." No, the starving artist philosophy is gone. I'm happily working my a** off and can't wait to make writing goals for next year.

Happiness: Confession: I never wanted to work in an office. Ever. I love making my own schedules, being my own boss and making decisions for myself. Being a freelancer and an author gives me the room to do all of that. I'm grateful.

Supporters: Past professors, local librarians, my agent and editor have been all amazing sources of knowledge and support.

Knowledge: I've dubbed this year "Novel Writing Bootcamp" because I've learned more this year about writing, publishing and editing than I ever thought I could learn. And there's still so much more!

The Silly

"Ugly Betty." With lines such as, "Oh my God, it's Perfect Spice!" It doesn't get much better than that.

Craig Wilson's column in The USA Today. Funny, heartfelt and always entertaining.

The movie Mean Girls which I've watched at least a dozen times to channel my inner brat when writing evil girl scenes.

My cat, Jazz, for serving as a lap warmer when I'm typing away at 6am.

Coffee Mate. Seriously, yum.

My pink Motorola. When I didn't have a case for it, I kept it in a sock. Don't laugh--it's too cute to get scratched.

Meg Cabot's Diary. For making me laugh and inspire me to keep working hard.

IncrediMail notifiers. I get waaay too excited when I see a kangaroo with mail bouncing onto my screen.

So, what are you thankful for?

PS- This Sunday, November 25, is Extreme Home Makeover's 100th makeover in MN. The company my dad works for participated and it should be a fantastic show! Look for people in Eniva gear. I'll be posting pics of my family and me in our EMHE get up either tomorrow or Friday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

HarperTeen Writing Challenge

Need something to do over the holidays? If you're a teen, you should consider HarperTeen's Writing Challenge. You can win up to $5000 and a call from a HarperTeen author! You must submit a short story, poem or song by January 7, 2008 to be eligible. Want the rules? Check here: :)

We've got some very talented past winners of last year's HarperTeen contest that are regular bloggers and readers of this blog. So give the contest a try.

I'm back to editing and writing an entry for a new Chicken Soup book. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Golden Compass--another Harry Potter like controversy?

I don't want to ruffle any feathers, really, but there's something disturbing (in my opinion) going on. The Golden Compass is being attacked. Yes, people are attacking a children's movie. I've been reading several online threads of support both for and against the movie and I don't know about you, but it feels like Harry Potter resistance all over again. Anyone else notice this?

A thread somewhere got my attention when a poster said something like, "Oh, some parents think if their kid loves the movie, he/she will want to read the book and then will become an atheist." Really? From a children's novel? Huh. And I was under the impression that reading expanded kids' minds and don't we think they're strong enough not to be influenced by everything they read, watch or hear?

I cannot wait to see the movie. I love Nicole Kidman, love the book and think the trailer looks amazing!

If that felt like a rant, well, it was. It seems that some people go waaaay too far and I'm sure the backlash against the movie will only get stronger.

So, what's your take on the situation?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Teri Brown's new publicity group on Yahoo

Okay, fiction writers pay attention! If you're already published or have a book under contract, you're cordially invited to become a member of Teri Brown's "fiction writers discuss publicity" as a Yahoo! group. Teri created a wonderful group to use a resource for us to share publicity tips and tricks. She's NOT using the group to spam or to promote one's book. If you'd like to join, take a look here:

There are already lots of great (and soon to be great!) authors on board and thank you Teri for thinking of this. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

WGA and studios schedule talks

All right! The WGA and studios have scheduled a new talk for November 26. Sure, that doesn't guarantee anything but at least the sides have scheduled a sit down. Find the details of the talk here:

I'm going to be editing this weekend and probably doing little, if any, typing.

I'm also looking around at new laptops. I'm in need of an upgrade. Any recommendations?

Friday, November 16, 2007

NaNo slow down and congrats

I don't know about you guys, but I haven't NaNoed in 2 days. Two days is a long time in NaNo world! But I've been editing lots and feel good about that. :) I'm sooo ready for the weekend and I've got a couple of movies I've been dying to see.

A big, big congrats to Jackson Pearce on the sale of her novel to HarperCollins!! She's another young writer, so go visit her blog and congratulate her. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dressage and fact in fiction

So, I started seriously riding horses when I was seven or eight and rode until I was thirteen and had back surgey. Now, during that time, I was not a dressage rider. I read about it, looked at pictures of dressage riders in Horse Illustrated, but did not participate in what's sometimes referred to as "horse ballet." But in Chasing Blue, I have several dressage scenes. The horse accuracy is completely on my shoulders, so I had to do some research on dressage including the course, movements, attire and scoring. The more I read, the more I wish I had tried dressage! The benefits to horse and rider are numerous and it's quite a beautiful discipline. I've also been checking out lots of horse blogs and getting inspiration from those.

Do you research any parts of your fiction? How do you decide how technical to get?

And the countdown to Thanksgiving is on. :) What're you doing for the holiday?

Amazon, Chasing Blue update and signing offer from tack a shop

Thank you all so much for sharing my excitement about finding Take the Reins on Amazon yesterday. Yes, the pub date is off but at least it's there in all of it's paperback glory.

Also, I wanted to share that on Saturday, I visited a lovely upscale tackshop downtown. I struck up a conversation with the store owner she excitedly offered to host a book signing in her shop next fall. :) I was thrilled about that and wrote her a thank you note as a follow up.

Chasing Blue, my NaNoNovel, sits at 21k and I hope to get at least 1500 words down today. Except, well, it's sweeps month and every afternoon at 3 I must break for General Hospital. Lots of drama this month! :)

How's everyone else doing with the NaNoNovel? Are you going to type during the Thanksgiving holiday or are you building in some extra words now?

PS- Anyone else dying to see Beowulf and The Golden Compass? Both look fantastic, especially GC. Hopefully, it will turn into a Lord of the Rings type of series.

PPS- Thanks to Em for you-know-what yesterday. :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Take the Reins is on Amazon!!

I'm beyond excited to annouce.... Take the Reins is now listed for pre-order (yay!) on Amazon!! I just found the link today and it makes everything feel so real to see your name on Amazon. Wow. I'm in utter shock! :)

I feel like a real author now. Okay, back to work...if I can stop looking at Amazon...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 10 & Announcement

Finally! Saturday and a few uninterrupted hours to type! I went to a craft fair this morning with my mom and it just made me feel bad that I'm not a crafty person. Seriously, we saw some stuff I couldn't even begin to make.

How's everyone's typing coming? I managed to get in 1900 words yesterday and I'm hoping for the same or more today. I love seeing my little pie graph fill in the more I type and chart on the NaNo progress report. :)

I'm also making a small announcement today. Starting next year, I'm going to be doing video podcasts (when the situation arises) with quick segments of what it's like to be a debut author. From calls with agents, to stacks of paper drafts I've amassed, to visiting the local bookstores (chains and indies), to getting ARCs, deciding on giveaways, going to book fairs, etc. I want to take you all with me on this insane, exciting journey! I'm going to tape the most important moments and start a new section of the blog on the sidebar. So, in January of 2008, look for DIARY OF A DEBUT AUTHOR videos.

Friday, November 9, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 9 & Why is Ellen being blasted?

Okay, so we're at day nine here and I hope we haven't lost anyone! :) In addition to typing NaNo, when I feel I need a break, I switch over to magazine queries. During Christmas break, I hope to write 15-20 queries and be ready to mail them out during January. At least they'll be written and all I have to do next year is e-mail them out. Writing the queries and deciding on ideas really takes the most time.


If you want up to the second coverage, I highly suggest Deadline Hollywood Daily by Nikki Finke. She's really got an insider's view since I can only report what I've been reading or seeing on TV.

Actors are turning the heat on studios and showing great support for writers. Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Nicollette Sheridan and Julianne Moore are the lastest stars to join the strike.

Also, I was sad to see that Ellen got blasted for continuing to tape shows. As she (and other actors) have pointed out--actors have contracts, too. They MUST work and Ellen has voiced support for the writers, but she is under contract to tape shows. You can't get upset with her for that. I'd hate to see writers turning on actors and vice versa. Everyone in NYC and Hollywood needs to work together to end this. People are out of work--both actors and writers--and with our economy already precarious, I'd love to see a quick resolution to this.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 8 & WGA Strike Update

We're officially onto day eight! How's everyone feeling? I got a little tired yesterday, but I'm getting encouraged again since we're at day 8 and the word count is going up.

Has anyone gone to a sponsored write in yet? Or have you had your own write in? I think I'll have my own private write in party on Sunday and set myself up for four hours of typing. No TV or distractions. Just writing. See, I'm trying to talk myself into it... :)

By the way, has anyone been watching GOSSIP GIRL? I keep meaning to ask. I haven't seen an episode yet, but I plan to start watching them online. I'm curious if people who've read the books like the TV show.


Felicity Huffman and Bill Macy joined strikers in LA. Patrick Dempsey, Katherine Heigl, Sandra Oh, Sally Fields, Ellen Pompeo, Sara Ramirez, John Stamos and Jimmy Kimmel also joined the WGA strikers. It's so nice to see actors supporting writers. I believe it was Sara who summed it up perfectly and said without the writers, she and the other actors would not have the characters we all know and love.

News reports say no new talks are scheduled.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 7

Brr! It got down to the low 40s last night, so I'm sitting wrapped in a blanket on my couch and typing away for NaNo. Yes, it does get freezing cold in FL, believe it or not. ;)

I've been thinking a lot about my target word count for this MG novel. It's going to be 58-60k, so there will be much more typing after NaNo, but at least I've got the bulk of it down on paper. Anyone else have a target word count?

Oooh, I forgot to mention that HBO invaded my town this week to make a movie about Florida's election (how seriously embarrassing) in 2000. Kevin Spacey, the guy who played Doyle on Gilmore Girls and a couple of other stars are filming downtown. If I could actually get around the barricades downtown, I'd definitely check it out, but everything is roped off. Humpf. :)


Eva Longoria Parker handed out pizza to writers on strike as Desperate Housewives shut down production. No new talks are scheduled for writers and studios. I wish I was in NYC or LA to join them!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 6 and Striking Writers Unite

Week one is almost over! Hopefully, everyone is still going strong! A big shout out to Steph who had no time to type earlier and is now waaay up with the word count! Yay! :)

I ended yesterday at 12,000 and am going to get started in a while. I've got a bit of reading to do on some sections I edited in book one and then it's back to book two.

On the news last night, I saw Jay Leno handing out snacks to the writers on strike. Tina Fey picked up a sign in NYC and Julia Louis Dreyfuss did so in LA. Regis Philbin's daughter, J.J., a writer for Heroes and for The OC is striking as well.

I got my December issue of The Writer yesterday. Only two more issues before my March breakthrough column appears! I'm so excited! :)

Share your word counts and give us a one to two sentence description of your plot. (Hard, isn't it?) I'll post mine later.

Monday, November 5, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 5 & WGA Writer Strike Update

Well, it's happened. The WGA strikes Hollywood. Wow. I'm really shocked and am going to be following all of the coverage. Leno, Letterman and late-night TV will probably be in reruns tonight (already!) and more shows will soon follow. I listened to a sound bite from Marc Cherry (creator of Desperate Housewives) and he thought this was definitely needed. He said writers were hurt by the boom of DVD sales from years ago and didn't get proper compensation. The news also reports that other writer organizations may soon join and back WGA. Anyone a member of WGA? I'm not, but I hope to be some day.

Back to NaNo- it's day 5! I'm around 10,500 words and going strong. The forums are working sooo much better over at NaNo and the site is much faster.

Share your word counts, if you dare. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 4 & Writer Strike

Day four is here! After a lackluster 200 words added yesterday, I'm ready to get going today. How's it going for everyone else?

And, has anyone else been keeping tabs on the Hollywood strike? If this happens, we'll be watching reality TV for months. Soaps, primetime and late-night shows will all be impacted by this very possible strike. Here's an updated article below:

Writer strike looms in Hollywood after talks break off

Saturday, November 3, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 3

All right! It's day three! How's it going, everyone? I got up at 7am (yuck!) on a chilly Saturday to finish edits and start typing. I've been posting over on the forums and people are doing great! Did you know there's a club for extreme NaNo where people write 50k in one day! One day! Now, that's not for me but for those who can...go for it. Amazing. :)

Anyone have a favorite NaNo soundtrack? Share 'em! I use Disney soundtracks, like Fantastia, and Harry Potter soundtracks. Ooh, and Pirates. (Thinking of Captain Jack keeps me typing...ahem...)

Check in today, even though it's Saturday, and let's keep going! I sit at...7587. I'll check in tonight.

PS- The handy word meter has been disabled (!) on the creator's site. Apparently, the NaNoers crash the server so you have to manually update the percentage and WC yourself. And no, the little bar doesn't slide. :(

Friday, November 2, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 2

All right! We're here at day two! The first day of pain (kidding!) is behind us and now we're moving on. Were your word counts what you thought they'd be for yesterday? If not, don't despair! There's plenty of time to make it up.

Anyone going to a local write in? My area is having one tomorrow at my favorite branch of the library, so I may go. I've always wanted to try one.

So, I'll share my word count first. As I mentioned, I'm writing the second book in my Canterwood Crest series (you all like the new title?!) and I sit at: 7000 words. Today, I may not get any typing done since I have edits, so that's why I did such a big WC yesterday.

Share your totals, if you like, and if not push ahead on day two. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

National Novel Writing Month: Day 1

Hear ye! Hear ye! Today begins day one of National Novel Writing Month! So, get out your computers, pens, notecards and let's get started! We can cross the finish line at the end of November with 50,000 words. Yes, we can!

If you're doing NaNo, check in here and let's get the support started. I'm opening my blank document right... now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween! Pics in Regis & Kelly 3-D glasses

Happy Halloween!! This morning, I watched the Monster Mash on Today, Martha's Halloween with Rosie (did you see her Broadway kids perform? Fantastic!) and The View's Halloween party. So much fun! Here are two pictures. That's my brother Jason and we're dressed in our Regis and Kelly 3-D glasses. Yup, today's show was in 3-D and so great! One of my favorite costumes on the show--Regis and Kelly dressed as Harry and Hermione. Excellent!
So, Happy Halloween! :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

8 random things #2

The lovely Steph tagged me for 8 random facts for today. So, here they are:

1. I don't have cable. Nope, if I did, I'd watch waaaay too much TV. :)

2. So, based on #1, I've never seen an episode of The Hills or any of those crazy MTV reality shows.

3. Every December, I walk around my neighborhood almost every night just to look at the Christmas lights. I love how pretty, sparkly and warm the neighborhood feels.

4. I switched college minors three times and majors never. My minors went from film, to women's studies to humanities.

5. I can' t cook. Well...can't or won't? Difference? :)

6. I HATE scary movies. I can't handle anything even remotely scary or I won't sleep for days.

7. I despise the taste of milk--except for in cereal.

8. I own (and love) all of Britney's CDs. And, have you read this? Yes, Blackout is a hit with critics!

PS- I found this cool article! Check out the sidebar on the right...

Blogging at Teen Fiction Cafe

I blogged about my brush with a natural disaster at Teen Fiction Cafe today. Come on over and chat with us! :)

PS- On Wednesday, check for a super-spooky Halloween photo!

Friday, October 26, 2007

United States Pony Clubs--perfect for horsey promotion!

Today, I'm working on outlets for book promotion next year. In addition to conferences, I thought attending a few horse shows and Pony Club gatherings would put me in touch with my audience who will likely be horse loving tweens.

Did you know that there are over 600 United States Pony Clubs in the US? These clubs have over 12,000 riders up to the age of 21. I did a search and found a complete list of all of the Pony Clubs in the Deep South and will definitely start contacting them next year. I only thought about this when I read that Bonnie Bryant, the Saddle Club author, does signings at these events.

An interesting event to attend would be the USPC Championships on July 24-27 in Lexington, VA. I used to live in VA and it would be fun to go back. :)

Anyone ever been part of a Pony Club? I didn't when I rode horses, but I wish there had been one in my area. I rode at a nice-sized stable, Triple Springs, in Greenbrier, TN. Most of the riders there were adults and there was a great mix of riders. Some had wild Mustangs, some had Arabians for breeding and a few barrel raced Quarter Horses. I was the girl who rode bareback (not even a bridle) and made everyone nervous when I zoomed over creeks and fences. :)


Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Star Jones Show Needs Your Participation for Gossip Segment

Today's post is of high importance. The Star Jones Show on Court TV is doing an upcoming segment on Envy. The show is looking for teens who would like to be on the show and speak about how gossip has affected their lives. This is NOT an exploitative type of segment. Instead, it's a new/entertainment/lifestyle piece and the focus is on how gossip destroys lives, ruins friendships and impacts girls into adulthood. The show is wondering why gossip is important to us as a culture.

If you would like to be a part of the show, please call Mia Davis at 212.973.7940 or e-mail her at If you're under 18, please get your parents' permission before you call or e-mail.

I'm going to be part of the show, so I hope you call or e-mail and weigh in on the topic of teen gossip! If you have questions, either e-mail Mia or post them here. We need responses ASAP. :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Quill Awards--Saturday on NBC

This is a short post today, but I've got two bits of news. First, the Quill Awards air October 27 (Saturday) on NBC. I watched for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. :) There's more info here: Anyone going to watch?

Second, thank you to those at NaNoWriMo for adding my name to your published NaNo authors list! (Yes, they mixed up the pub date, but I'll contact them about that once I get my new book title.) That was so nice of them! Thanks, guys!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Conferences for 2008

Okay, I'm in need of advice from conference savvy blog readers. :) I'm looking into conferences for 2008 to promote myself and my book. I'm considering doing panels, booths, etc.

Now, here's an initial list of conferences I'm thinking about attending.

Miami International Book Fair
Sarasota Reading Fest
SCBWI FL Orlando
IRC Atlanta
IRC Nashville
Decatur (GA) Book Fest
Voices in Children's Lit

Has anyone been to any of these? Heard of them? Going to any in '08? I've got sooo many conferences to choose from and I'm trying to pick the "right" ones. They don't necessarily have to be in the South, but I'm trying to pick that location until I get a feel for how conferences are supposed to go. I'm a complete newbie, since I've never been to any. Yeah, very bad of me, I know. :)

If you've got suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Albus Dumbledore is gay says Rowling

Did you guys see this article? Wow, I never guessed! Apparently, there has been speculation for a long time, but I never read a word about it. How interesting!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Writing the sequel

In a few weeks, I'm going to start writing the second book in the HJ series. Now, when I wrote book one, I had no outline, no character sheets and no idea where the book was going. This time, I've got a detailed outline, character sheets, a semi-complete timeline and a definite decision as to how the book will end.

It's definitely a different feeling to write a sequel. There's no figuring out who my characters are or determining a location. Sure, I've got to find ways to put fresh spins on those things, but I also know my characters well and that will come in handy during the writing of this next book. It's an odd feeling for a first time sequel writer to start a book already knowing my cast. Know what I mean?

What method do you use when you write? The outline method or go without anything method? Anyone written a sequel before?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

OT-- Exercise stability balls report

This is very off topic, but I wanted to bring it up today. I watched a report on Inside Edition last night and it brought up the serious dangers of those exercise stability balls. You know, the big oversized rubber balls that you can do sit ups, push ups, ect on? Anyway, most balls are NOT puncture resistant and if they pop while you're sitting on it, they blow up like a balloon. A man was using his ball while lifting weights and it popped. He broke both arms and may never fully recover. So, if you have one that isn't puncture resistant and it's made of thin rubber you may want to toss it. Companies now are making puncture resistant balls and if you poke it with a pencil, say, it will slowly leak air and not explode.

I have a non-puncture resistant ball that I've had for 5 years and I use it all of the time. I deflated it last night and tossed it. I never thought about it popping-and I should have since I have titanium rods in my spine.

Anyone else heard about this?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Halloween cookies

On of my supporting characters in my MG book is a baker. She wants to be the next Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart. Now, I'm no domestic goddess but in the spirit of embracing my character, I decided to make Halloween cookies. Not many, but a few. What do you think? If you look closely, you'll see that the pumpkins' eyes are either baby chicks (Easter sprinkles) or tiny bats. The thing I do best? Make colored frosting. That I can do. :)

To the NaNo people, the forums are finally fixed! Yay!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fraidy cat

I was just visiting the NaNoWriMo forums and wow--they are so messed up! Posts are disappearing (well, you log in and you can't see your own posts), signatures are gone and bugs abound. I love the forums and I hope that's all fixed soon. It's such a bummer not to be able to start interacting with everyone with the forums being on the fritz. They work for some, but not for all apparently. :(

So, I went to the store with my mom this morning and I was in the Halloween aisle. One of those bowls for candy with the hand inside that screams and says something like "want some candy?" yelled at me when I walked by. I jumped a bit, but I was expecting it. If I'm caught off guard, I'll scream like a, well, girl. Yeah, I've got pretty bad nerves, I guess. I left the Halloween aisle and headed around a corner when a woman came around the same corner Not expecting to see anyone, I jerked back like I'd seen a ghost and went "ahh!" What was that?! Some kind of delayed reaction from the candy bowl? She looked at me like what a freak and walked away. I blushed and slunk off. Now, I'm laughing about it. :) And I'll be staying home for the rest of the day....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Movies for Writers

The November 2007 issue of The Writer has an article by Darren Miller titled "10 moives every writer must see."

What movies make the list? Adaptation, Capote and The Hours among several others. I loved this list because it's not completely a list of the most award winning films, but a list of films for and about writers. Stranger Than Fiction makes the list and while that's not an Oscar worthy movie, it was truly delightful! :)

What movies do you think are good for writers? I saw Miss Potter a few weeks ago and loved it. It's not on the list, but it might have made a good honorable mention, perhaps.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cool cover colors--The Poison Apples

Yesterday, I picked up this really cool-looking book, The Poison Apples. Why is it cool? Because the edges of the pages are red! I've never seen anything like that and the book looks so neat just based on that singular fact. Have you ever seen dyed pages?

What are some of your favorite book covers? What draws your eye to them? Does a good cover aid in choosing a book? I'd love your thoughts! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

USA Today: The Spiderwick Chronicles movie

Did anyone see yesterday's USA Today? It had a big spread in the entertainment section on Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's The Spiderwick Chronicles movie. It sounds so, so good!! :) Plus, it stars the adorabale Freddie Highmore.

I've only read the first Spiderwick book, but I want to read more. I can't wait for the movie in February.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Zombie craft

My mom got that "zombie" out of a Halloween craft book. She made it this weekend and it's super spooky! There are Christmas tree lights stuffed inside the head and when you plug it in at night, it look so cool!

I edited most of the weekend and am doing so now. Anyone do anything exciting this weekend? What are you currently working on?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Working Weekend

It's so dreary here today! It's 89 degrees (yuck!) and stormy. It should not be this hot in October.

However, I'm inside doing edits and watching American Idol: Rewind. Why? Because football is on every other channel. AI is much better than that.

I've been doing lots of creative work this weekend. Editing, working on outlines for the next HJ books (yay!) and working on 2k8 work. By the way, the class of 2k8's Website launches in mid-November. Plan to come check out the 28 freshest voices in children's lit for 2008. :)

November's going to be busy, that's for sure. Lots of stuff happening with 2k8, HJ and NaNoWriMo. Anyone participating? If so, share your buddy name. :)

How's everyone's weekend so far?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

ALA's Banned Books Week

This week, from September 29-October 6 is Banned Books Week. Can anyone guess the most challenged books from 2006? Think hard. They're in white below so you can guess first. Just highlight the text to see.

And Tango Makes Three, Gossip Girls and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

Seriously?! Check out the rest of the top ten here. This is such an important issue and we MUST, as readers, writers and lovers of books, stand up and say we're not going to support censorship. Readers lose. Authors lose. It's loss all around.

Just a few months ago, you probably remember that the lovely Maureen Johnson's The Bermudez Triangle went through a fight to stay in an OK library. Petitions were circulated and strong feelings were heard on each side. Anyone read the book? I did. And it's incredibly sad that such a beautiful, realistic book would face such opposition.

Another book on the ALA list of frequently challenged? Beloved. I've read it for two different classes at Florida State University. Was anyone in my classes offended? I think not.

Join the American Library Association's fight to keep censorship out of our libraries, schools and bookstores.

Who's with me? :)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Halloween Decoration Pictures

As promised, here are some of our best Halloween decorations! We have pics of the front door, fireplace mantle and a close up of the wreath. Boy, I'm starting to get in the spooky mood! Each weekend, we'll watch a couple of different Halloween movies. The choices for this weekend? Ghostbusters and Dracula.

Cross your fingers that Dracula doesn't scare me too much....

Got any fav Halloween movies? My top favorite is... It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Love it. :)

Blogging for TFC

I blogged over at Teen Fiction Cafe today, so please come join us and add to the conversation! :)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Decorating party!

As per Burkhart family tradition (or because I bugged my mom endlessly!) we got out our Halloween decorations today and decorated! :) It's sort of a decoration war in my neighborhood and once our neighbor put up his scarecrow yesterday, I knew we were late. Yep, late. In September. Yes, I know it's only September, but I reaaaally love our pumpkins and witches. So, we got out the decorations and when I needed a break from editing, I put up our spooky Halloween collection. I can't stand scary movies, but I adore Halloween!

Every year, we buy one new item for our holiday decorations. This year, I found the most adorable (you'll see a pic) wreath at Wal-Mart. I had to by pass the Christmas section (talk about way too early!), but I found it.

I'm taking pictures tonight of everything and will post the best ones next week.

Anyone else decorate for Halloween?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mini horse pics

So, here are the pics of the mini horses! :) These little guys are foals from a local miniature horse farm. Aren't they adorable? That's my brother, Jason, with a colt who loved attention. That's the family's dog and it shows just how small the horses really are. Unlike regular horses, these hardy guys can have a 30 year life span. They were so sweet and they had the most even temper of any horse I'd been around.

Now I want one. :)

Field trip

A few weeks ago I was supposed to visit a local horse farm, but I had to cancel. Today's the day! I'll be meeting M, a local horse farm owner, and spending a bit of time with her horses. I'm so excited! I haven't been around horses much since my spinal fusion in 2000. But being around horses is like riding a bike--even if you haven't done it in a while, you don't forget how.

Pictures will be up tomorrow. Check back. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Big news with The Writer

Today is a double-post day! So, I mentioned in my first post that I had great news to share. Well, after waiting for confirmation, I can indeed say that.... I'll be the Breakthrough columnist for the March 2008 issue of The Writer Magazine!!! Woo hoo!! I've been trying to break into The Writer for years with no luck. Persistence definitely paid off and I'll be writing the article over the next few weeks.

Off to celebrate! :)

Weekend of books

I did a lot of reading this weekend. First, I read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants because (gasp!) I've never read it! I've seen the movie a couple of times (love Alexis Bledel), but I forgot about the book.

Then, I tackled two books from Aladdin MIX (*cough* my line). ;) I read Tricia Rayburn's THE MELTING OF MAGGIE BEAN (see sidebar for link to Amazon) and Lauren Barnholdt's THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY. Both are amazing books and MIX has the coolest, cutest covers ever! Next on my list is I am Rembrandt's Daughter. It's a historical YA that came out this year.

What books did you read over the weekend? Or what are you reading now?

PS- I've got awesome news to share, but it'll have to wait a bit. Stay tuned! :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Confessions of a Shopaholic Movie

Did anyone else hear that Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic is going to be a movie? Isla Fischer is playing Becky Bloomwood and Jerry Bruckheimer will produce. I've only read the first book, but I'd love to see the movie! What do you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The blog has been quiet (very!) this week, but it should return to regularly scheduled blogging soon.

Today, I wanted to talk about series. I love a good series, especially those by Libba Bray, Stephenie Meyer and (from my childhood) the Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell.

Series give such a rare chance to follow and bond with a character instead of leaving him/her behind after one book. For some, one book is all that's needed to tell a compelling story. There are several books that I've read recently where I loved the ending so much, I was glad there wasn't a sequel. Others seemed to leave me hanging and begged for a follow up. Imagine if JK Rowling stopped with the first HP! Okay, that's not even imaginable.

What are some of your favorite series? Why? Did a sequel ever let you down? Or has a sequel ever been better than the first book?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Edits, oh edits

I've been editing really hard this week and got through a huge chunk of pages. Yay! :) That feeling of "Oh my, I'm getting closer to the end!" is exciting! For a while, I wasn't writing or editing up to my own standards and now I hit my stride. I'll be working through the weekend and will be breaking for the Emmys on Sunday night. Can't wait. Gorgeous gowns, dashing men, crying behind stage after winning....all good. ;)

Are you in the middle of edits? If so, how're they going? Do you have any Emmy favs? I'm pulling for Grey's, Desperate and Ugly Betty.

* Happy Birthday, Em and Samah!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NYT article about famous author rejections

Has anyone else read this article yet? Whoa, and I thought I'd received some harsh rejection letters for freelancing! This article definitely goes to show that publishing is quite subjective and it's all about finding the right home for your book.

Check out No thanks, Mr. Nabokov from the NYT.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Audio Books

As proof that I can be really (embarrassingly) behind the times, I just listened to my first audio book this weekend. Really. It's true. At the library, I came across Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on audio. So, I picked it up and I finally understand why audio book sales are so high. On the way to pick up my brother, I was at Hogwarts. Waiting in the car for said brother while he did a practice PSAT--more Harry.

What's your take on audio books? Have you listened to any? Which ones? If not, why not? is release day for PLATINUM by Jennifer Lynn Barnes! Yay, Jen!! :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Website questions--opinions please!

Okay, I need some opinions, please! :) I'm hiring a fab Website designer at the end of this year to re-do my Website for my series release. Now, I'm going to be providing her with information (colors, theme, sites I like, etc) and while I know color-wise what I want, I'm going back and forth on the theme. Some Websites, such as Diana Peterfreund's are more book specific. Her site matches Secret Society Girl in the Flash into. Others, like Simone Elkeles are not specific to one book.

I'm trying to decide if for my first 4 books, I should make the site as an upper-classy looking equestrian boarding school feel or if I should make it non-specific to my High Jumps books since I *hopefully* will see more books in the future.

What do you think?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Death of an Author

Did you guys read this? Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, died on Thursday. Yahoo! wrote a nice article about her and her work. Check it out below.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Busy bee!

Blogging has been and will be a little (just a little!) neglected while I get through this round of edits.

What's keeping you busy right now?

On a freelance note, I got my September 2007 issue of Listen Magazine with my profile of singer Whitney Wolanin. Check it out if you see the mag. :)

Side note: There has also been so much celeb and lifestyle news/gossip recently that I need someone to dish with me! ;) What do you think about the new iPod? Or Halle Berry's pregnancy? Or Britney's rumored performance at the VMA's? I'm writing so much that I'm relishing a little Hollywood chatter.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

TV Tuesday

It's all-new Tuesday for TV! :) Well, daytime that is. I should be editing, but instead I'm watching new episodes of Ellen (she has Hillary Clinton on!) and The View with new co-host Whoopi Goldberg. I miss the controversy Rosie stirred up, so we'll see how Whoopi does today.

I'm blogging for Lamar today so come check us out.

Did everyone have a good holiday? What did you do? My parents, brother and I grilled and we watched movies over the weekend. I've never seen Miss Potter, so I watched that and my fifth (maybe more) viewing of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The cast was so young and tiny! Aw. Renee Zellweger and my fav Ewan McGregor (gorgeous!) were brilliant in Miss Potter, so if you haven't seen it--get it.

Lots of reading was also done over the extended holiday. I finished several books and am now reading So Totally Emily Ebers by Lisa Yee. The book has one of the most adorable covers I've ever seen.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Kirbys

It is officially a small world. I was reading in article in The Tallahassee Democrat about Florida State University's poet-professor David Kirby. Now, the article talks about Kirby's life, his many accomplishments as a writer and it gives background on him. At the article's end, it mentions that Kirby is the father of Will Kirby. Name sound familiar? It should. Will won Big Brother in 2001, appeared in Big Brother All Stars and is on E!'s Dr. 90210.

Small world. Seriously. Ever have one of those moments? I can't believe that "Evil" Dr. Will grew up in Tally. Funny. :)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Kid Magazine Writers--Check it out!

This one is for freelancers today. Anyone ever visit KidMagWriters? I'm addicted to the site and love the reports from magazine editors and the complete listing of magazines for teens and tweens.

Perhaps the coolest part is the archives. They're chock full of special reports on kid magazines and full of "editors speak." Reading what an editor wants in his/her own words is a huge advantage!

If you're not a freelancer, Kid Mag Writers offers plenty for you, too! The site offers tips on getting organized, success stories of first publications and more. The site is also helpful to authors because there are plenty of magazine for teen/tween/children readers and staying in the know about what kids are reading, listening to and talking about has always been helpful to me when writing books.

Check it out and happy holiday weekend!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Readergirlz: October 1-31

There has been a lot of chatter recently about the big project coming up from Readergirlz. From October 1-31, Readergirlz will be having chats with 31 authors for 31 days. Authors include (and, oh is it a BIG list!): Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer, Sara Zarr, Lisa Yee and Holly Black, among others.

Blogs from Little Willow and YA Fresh have offered news about the huge event, so stay tuned to their blogs for the latest.

Are you going to check out the event?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Congrats to Sara Hantz!

A big, BIG congrats to Sara Hantz on the release of her YA novel, The Second Virginity of Suzy Green by Flux. Visit her blog party this week to read posts from Sara, Alyson Noel and other fav authors.

Yay, Sara! :)

Okay, I'm off and back to editing...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

I've got some cool news to share on this Wednesday morning! My dad's company partnered with ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition and they built a house in Minnesota over the past week. The episode will air during sweeps in November and you'll be able to see my dad's company (Eniva) and a bunch of the company employees and owners who signed on to help.

I was this close to flying to Minnesota to help rebuild and sneak a glance at the photo shoot with Ty Pennington and the gang, but my dad had to fly somewhere else for the week, so it was a no go.

I'm working on edits today and am getting ready for the holiday weekend. Anyone have any plans? I'll be writing, sifting through my pile of YA and MG must reads and grilling.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blog at Lamar

I blogged about America's reading habits at Lamar today. Check it out here! I'll be blogging there every Tuesday for the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Magazines and too many books

Anyone get their September issue of Romance Writers Report yet? If so, be sure to check out my article on increasing Website traffic. It's my first publication in RWR and it's a thrill to have a pub credit in a new (for me) magazine.

I've been taking a break from freelancing for a while and have been allowing editors to contact me when they need something, instead of sending queries. I do an occasional query when I can't pass up a story idea, but I turned to focus fully on fiction for right now.

Today, however, no writing has occured since we've been dealing with storms and it would be my luck for my surge protector to get hit. So, I've been watching movies (Spiderman, Ella Enchanted) with my brother and reading. Lots of reading. The local librarians gave me the evil eye on Friday because I practically cleaned out their teen/tween section and have an insanely large load of books. I'll take a pic sometime. Plus, the more I check out the more I struggle over what to read first! Pretty Little Liars, Shug or Girls on Film? Choices, choices.

Since I'm a little out of the loop on the magazine biz, what are your fav magazines? Teen or adult. Share them here!

Oh, and anyone else watching the Teen Choice Awards tonight? C'mon, you know you want to see Avril perform. ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Edits and more

(Excuse the crooked shot!)

I've been editing like crazy today--focusing on my first young adult novel, Blackheart Mountain. It's the first round of line edits and there's still the ending to write although I have it fully outlined. It's a fun book to write and how different it is writing for a sixteen-year-old than writing for Sasha, my thirteen-year-old in High Jumps.

I've also been getting caught up on my blog reading and wow, lots has been happening in the lit world especially with lots of new deals over at Verla Kay. Way to go, guys! :)

So, I thought I'd share a page from the August/September Tallahassee Woman. I didn't post the last one here and figured it was a nice way to help promote the mag, too.

If you're interested in talks about plots, head over to Diana's blog and get in on the conversation.

Tomorrow, I'll be blogging for the Lamar Write Site, so come join me there!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fall TV: What will you watch?

I'm a self-professed TV junkie and as such, I absolutely cannot wait to stop
watching summer reality TV (except for Big Brother) and get back to scripted shows. In addition to shows already on air, there are several new shows that caught my eye. Here’s the list of shows I can’t wait to see:

Cashmere Mafia

The title alone makes me want to try it.

Gossip Girl

Any book to TV is a must see.

Kid Nation

Kids with their own mini-city—how cool is that?!

Survivor: China

As the first show to have such access to filming a reality show in China, I’m curious to see how this season unfolds.

Dirty Sexy Money

Uber-talented Donald Sutherland and the return of Portia De Rossi in this ABC show has me hooked for the pilot.

Pushing Daisies

This one received some of the best early reviews and the previews are gorgeous.

Private Practice

Shonda Rimes, I am not worthy. :)

Lipstick Jungle

Loved the book and we’ll see about Brooke.

New or old, what are you looking forward to this season?

*Finally, something off topic.*

Major congratulations to Florida State University’s own WILL BIGHAM who won last night’s On the Lot. Will won a million dollar contract with Dreamworks and is now working for Mr. Steven Spielberg. Yay, Will and congrats to you and your lovely family!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Book Club

I just finished reading The Jane Austen Book Club (yes, it's in theaters now (with the ever lovely Emily Blunt), I believe) by Karen Joy Fowler. The book flew by in a gorgeous back and forth between the characters, all from different backgrounds, who come together over their love of Jane Austen novels.

The camaraderie and sense of unity in the book made me want a book club of my own! The characters found such interesting ways to connect their lives to the lives of Austen's characters and I learned more about Austen from the eyes of Fowler's characters than I did in school.

So, does anyone belong to a book club? Or ever belonged to one? If not, what kind of book club would you join?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Current WIP--share 'em!

This weekend, I made a master list of all of the projects I plan to outline and then eventually pitch to my agent.

The list is now made up of:

* 2 MGs
* 7 YAs
* 1 non-fiction for teens.

Seeing "the list" in print helps me visualize my goals much more clearly and I've gotten back to working on other pieces besides HJ. At first, I thought I should only work on HJ until the edits were done, but that actually doesn't have to happen. I can happily switch between two projects and that keeps things fresh and interesting. So, now I'm going back and forth between Blackheart Mountain (my tenatively titled YA) and HJ. Nice. Both are completely different in tone, voice, style and my writing zest has been renewed! :)

This weekend, during editing, I found something new, too.... watching sports while editing is actually FUN. Coming from someone who only watches horse racing, I never thought I'd say that. Yesterday, I watched the ah-dorable (Sorry, too many Clique novels) Little Leaguers and oh, my, were they playing like the men! Wow! Last night, I watched the 2007 Visa Championships in women's gymnastics and I cannot wait to see the rest tonight.

Ahem, sorry. Back from the side rant about sports.

Share your current WIP. What's it about? Are you switching around with multiple projects or focusing on one?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Published in Shriners Newsletter

Care & Share, the newsletter of Shriners Hospital for Children, was nice enough to publish an article about me in their summer 2007 issue. I've been working with Shriners for years after having a spinal fusion and I'm grateful to be featured in this issue.
A big thank you to Tammy Robbins for orchestrating everything! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chincoteague Island Library Needs Help

(Borrowing this pic from the Chincoteague Island Library Website)

I was reading Anne Marie Pace's LJ when I came across this post. Yes, that photo is of a library. Does your library look anything like that? I bet not.

With a poverty rate of 27% and Virginia's highest illiteracy rate, this library needs an extreme makeover. This tiny, struggling library is in the city where one of the most famous ponies, Misty, came to life through Marguerite Henry's series. I've been passionate about horses and reading since I was little and I feel an even tighter connection to this cause since Aladdin published the Misty series and they are also publishing my forthcoming horse series.

I've been thinking about Anne Marie's post for a few days and am trying to think of something we all can do to help.

If you'd like to donate to the library, they are accepting donations to rebuild and expand. I plan to contact them to ask if they accept book donations, too. I'm racking my brain to see if there's a way to help next year if I'm able to take a trip to VA.

If you want to visit the library's Website, visit

Monday, August 13, 2007

Teen Fiction Cafe

Thanks to the fab Sara Hantz, I will now be a regular blogger at Teen Fiction Cafe! I'll let everyone know when my first post in September goes up and if you haven't already, check it out!

I'm excited to finally join a group blog. I feel like the kid who got picked for the cool kids' soccer team. :)

Off to edit.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Music in book trailers

I'm thinking ahead (not really too far since summer 2008 is only a year away!) to marketing tactics to reach tween readers.

Along with the class of 2k8, we're doing book trailers and I think it's a great idea! I started jotting down ideas and thinking about what I'd like to see in my trailer. We've found an amazing selection of book trailer creators and I'm thrilled to have any one of them work on the HJ trailer this winter.

I'm looking through photos, free online art and then there will be images that the designer also presents. But I still wanted newer pictures of horses that matched the tone of my book.

The timing with this turned out to be perfect because yesterday a local horse farm owner called me up after reading my article in the paper and asked if I wanted to come visit her farm. I haven't been around horses in so long and I jumped at the chance! I also explained to her about my need for new horse pics and perhaps video and she graciously told me to bring my camera and shoot away. Hopefully, I'll have good shots to share of the horses and moi when I get back from visiting sometime next week.

Okay, back to the music issue. Someone pointed out that if we used songs from our own CDs that it's illegal. Yup, after doing research that turns out to be true unless you want to pay thousands for the song rights. Yeah, I was sadly mistaken when I thought I could use Fergie's "Glamorous" in my movie. :)

I've been doing a little digging online and am compiling a list of Websites that have royalty free music available legally for a moderate fee. Some of the sites charge insane fees for music that's, well, not quite right for a tween trailer.

Have you done a book trailer? If so, what did you do about the music? If not, are you aware of any legal royalty free music sites?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Review: On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels

Before you say "I don't write romance!" keep reading because this book is for any writer from teen to adult who writes any sort of relationship between two people.

Leigh Michaels has over 80 romance novels to her name and this book is for the beginning to middle-level writer with some sprinkles of good advice for the advanced writer.
Each chapter (from discussing the types of romance categories to plotting a sensual scene) is followed by a Q&A to determine if you grasped the important concepts in the book.
The final chapters offer advice on publishing and include sample queries.
The book isn't filled with graphics and it's a solid 275 pages of fairly tiny text. It's a great addition to any bookshelf and check it out here!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Stephenie Meyer on GMA

Did anyone else catch Stephenie Meyer on Good Morning America today? She was on around 8:45am and she came with a following of fan girls crazed about the books. Stephenie was promoting today's release of Eclipse and she sounded as nice on TV as she does on her Website.

The fans were crazy! They filled the studio and were outside the windows with "I Love Edward Cullen!" t-shirts and posters. Imgine how it would feel to get teens fired up enough about your books to entice them into making t-shirts. That's a high level of stardom in the publishing biz, that's for sure.

I've only read Twilight, but I have the next two novels on order and can't wait to read them. If you've read Meyer, what's your take on the novels? Or the characters?

**PS** Thanks SO much to everyone who commented in my mean girls post! You all had fantastic ideas! :) I selected one and if it makes the final edits, I'll post the name and the person who suggested it!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mean girls in literature?

So, I'm editing now and am stumped on a character. I'm trying to come up with a name of a female villian (or bitchy girl) of sorts that's fairly well known to today's teens and tweens. I need this name to compare to my own mean female character. So, I'm thinking a Draco Malfoy type--but a girl. The character has to come from literature and not TV or movies. I would have loved to use Regina George, but alas she's from a movie.

I'm seriously stumped. I tried to think back on the books I've read recently, but can't think of any standout female who tortures the good girls.

Any suggestions? They could end up in print! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Books to movies

Lately, I've been reading books that have been made into movies such as Queen Bees and Wannabees (Mean Girls), Stardust, The Nanny Diaries, The Golden Compass and The Secret Garden.

Books to movies seems to be a growing trend in Hollywood. It does make sense, if you think about it. There is more potential box office bucks for a movie that has been a beloved book than perhaps a brand new film with no built in fan base.

On Yahoo!, a new trailer for Beowulf with Angelina Jolie is playing. Would you watch the Beowulf film?

What are some of your favorite books to movies?

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