Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TMG's Jan/Feb 09 releases

Oooh, cool!

My agency put up a list of January/February 2009 releases! So. Cool. :)

See it here!

They list TAKE THE REINS and fellow Aladdin MIXer Julia DeVillers and her sis, Jennifer Roy, have their book, TRADING FACES, on the list, too.

It's starting to feel official now!

By the way, FAR FROM YOU author Lisa Schroeder did a wonderful post on her LiveJournal called "supporting authors when your heart is bigger than your wallet." It's a must read!

~*~TRIPLE FAULT progress~*~


14 first draft pages down (oh, the horror of the first draft!) ;) (Really shouldn't be winking...)
2 1/2 cups of green tea consumed
1 cup of coffee (refilled at least twice)
0 instances of hair pulling

And, finally, I can't believe it's the last day of 2008. I'm sooo ready for 2009 to start and I'm ready to kick if off tonight!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And so it begins...

I'm starting the first draft of TRIPLE FAULT this morning. Like, now. Right now. OMG. There's always that moment (okay, more like day) of panicked "I can't do this! I forgot how to write a book! I'm supposed to do what?!"

Happens every time I start a book. But it's okay. It keeps things interesting and I'd rather be freaked out instead of all "Whatever. I can so do this because I'm the best writer ever." That would be boring!

Lucky for me, I had my Writer Freakout yesterday in anticipation of starting TF today. So, I'm ready. I've got my trusty outline, a sparkly pink pen for notes, cinnamon bun flavored coffee and fuzzy purple socks. You know, all things a writer needs.

Wish me luck! *

Cover Copyright © 2009 Simon & Schuster. Photo © Monica Stevenson.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blogging at Teen Fiction Cafe!

I blogged about upcoming books to movies over at Teen Fiction Cafe! :) Totally check it out to see a hot pic of Brendan Fraser. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

*I'm* on Wikipedia? Really?

So, I looked at my SiteMeter and saw I was getting a lot of traffic from Wikipedia. Hmmm! Wikipedia? I clicked over and someone made me a page. But who?! If you did, I've love to know! Thank you! :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My 2009 writer resolutions

JA Konrath did an excellent post about "Resolutions for Writers 2009."

I love making goals for the year and last night I looked at my list for 2008. Some things I achieved, some I didn't. Here's last year's list!

If you don't want to click:

(from December 31, 2007)

* Finish two more books in the Canterwood Crest series

(Close! I finished one more CC book.)

* Get an ending on my first YA and start subbing it

(Finished YA! Decided to hold onto it and not sub yet.)

* Start a brand new MG project


* Break into my two dream markets--Seventeen and Teen Vogue

(Nope. Utter failure. ;) Try again this year!)

* Learn more about marketing and start promoting Take the Reins in the fall

(Definitely accomplished. I might open my own marketing firm for authors, LOL.)

*Increase blog and Website traffic


* Read even more than I did in 2007

(Yep. I didn't count the books, but I'm sure I did.)

Now, for the 2009 writer resolutions:

* Learn more about book promotion
* Take a writing risk
* Write the essay I've been thinking about for seven years
* Keep blog updated
* Double blog and Website traffic
* Become a better writer
* Don't become one of THOSE writers that
Agent A and Editor K roll their eyes when talking about
* Read more in 2009
* Write more
* Do not obsess over what people will think of my books
* Break into Teen Vogue and Seventeen
* Promote Canterwood Crest to the best of my ability, but...
* ...don't become a PR wh*re. Tacky!
* Meet all of my deadlines. Early.
* Expand my writer network

There we go! It's a start, right? Share some of your goals.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Problems with my essay

If it's not already obvious, I changed the blog template! Yay! I was tired of the black, blue and other colors the day after I put it up. Really. I love this one. Thanks to Suck My Lolly for providing cool templates.

Soo...I haven't posted about actual writing in a while. Funny, you'd think it would be all I posted about. But no. Posts have been book-oriented instead of craft related. That's changing for today.

Right now, I'm NOT working on book stuff. Gasp! Instead, I'm writing an essay and am lining up interviews for an assignment. The essay is making me angry/confused/angsty/think I need to go back to school. I've been attempting to write it since...(checks date on Word doc) August 11. 8-11! How sad.

I've started it multiple times and scrapped the entire thing at least twice. It has to be under 1000 words, which isn't the problem. What IS my/the essay's prob?

Past and current problems include:

* A wide scope (C'mon. I *know* to focus on one issue in such a short piece. But no! I ran off in 3 directions within two paragraphs. Madness.)

* Too much time passes (Again, I got lost in my jumbled timeline and skipped back and forth through too many years of my life. It gave ME a headache.)

* Writing what I think the mag wants (Dangerous. I thought I'd stopped doing that years ago. Apparently not.)

* Not writing what I want (Related to note above.)

* Having a jumbled essay where I try to say what I really feel without hurting anyone's feelings (No need to be mean, and I'm not, but I want the essay to be honest.)

* Worrying about putting something too personal "out there" and not being able to take it back later (What's "too personal" anymore, anyway?)

* Making too many general statements (I need to be specific and make the essay mine.)

At least I know what some of the problems are, right? :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Where's Sasha?

It's a gift from Santa! Or, technically, Editor K.

Look! Sasha and Charm are chilling in the living room.

Gasp! My books on an actual shelf!

TTR found its way into my purse.

The copies are tired. Where will they go next? Hmm...

Happy holidays, friends! :)

Lisa Schroeder talks to Edward Cullen!

I am SO jealous! Lisa Schroeder, author of FAR FROM YOU (releasing today) and I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, talked to THE Edward Cullen on the phone!


But Edward did seem incredibly self-centered. Not that I'm surprised...

Happy release day, Lisa!

PS- You have waaaay more than eleven or twelve fans! ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Take the Reins copies! :)

I got something AMAZING in the mail this morning.

Finished copies of TAKE THE REINS!!

OMG. The book that I've obsessed over, cried about, loved writing and enjoyed plotting is in my hands.

TAKE THE REINS started as a "I don't know if I can do this, but I'll try" NaNoWriMo 2006 project.

Wait, wait. How about a little time line instead? 'Kay. Here goes.

Oct. 2006--I want to switch from magazine writing to novel writing. Can I do this?

Nov. 1, 2006--Yes, I can! Let's write this book!

Nov. 15, 2006--Um, wait. Does this thing totally suck?

Nov. 17, 2006--Yes, this might really suck. But I'll keep going.

December 1, 2006--*tired* Wow. I have a reallly bad finished draft. But it's a draft!

December 2006--Revises.

January 2007--Agent A emails.

January 2007--OMG. An agent? Emailing me? Really? *Emails Diana Peterfreund for advice*

January 2007--Diana tells me to chill and not faint when I talk to Agent A for the first time.

January 2007--Talk with Agent A. We click and I don't faint. Sign with Agent A.

February-May 2007--Revise, worry that I completely suck, revise, ooh! TTR is getting better, revise, graduate.

Late May 2007--TTR goes on sub. No time to obsess--gotta start next project

Late May 2007--Offer from S&S. I cry, scream and go through every possible emotion in all of five minutes.

And that's how it happened! Of course, there were lots of revisions after that and all of the superfun stuff like the photo shoot, galleys, copy edits and finalizing titles happened between June 2007 and now.

But wow. The experience of holding your first book in your hands is a fantastic one that I'll never forget.

Pictures to come! :D

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chasing Blue ARC pics

As promised...ARC pics of CHASING BLUE! On the front, we've got Sasha Silver and her rival Heather Fox. Julia Myer, Heather's BFF, is on the back. There's also a tiny pic of Heather on the spine. (Yes, I had the pic of the back loaded and then I took it off. It kinda gives away a bit of the plot of TAKE THE REINS.)

Yay! I was such a dork about this ARC. I held it on my lap for most of the trip home and have it by my laptop so I can see it today. Soon, it will be sent Out There for someone else to read. Eeep.

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NJ trip pics

This evil bridge in...MD (?) made me nervous. But I made it! Whew. ;)

Snow!!! OMG! Real snow!

Sunset over above mentioned evil bridge.

Since I've not had the pleasure of making a snow man in 5ish years, this was the best that could be made under the circumstances. He's about 5 inches tall and without a face or arms. :)

Cocoa Ave in Hershey, PA! Isn't it beyond cool that the streetlamps are shaped like Kisses?! Love that.

So, those are a few of the pics from the NJ trip. I was sooo annoyed this morning when I was leaving NJ that it was supposed to snow later in the day and I'd miss it by hours. Five freaking minutes before I left the hotel, I looked out the window. A snowflake. And then another. It started to snow and I didn't want to miss it. I ran out of the hotel (without a coat--brr!!) and stood in the parking lot to see it. Ahh. I <3 snow and have sooo missed Illinois winters.

I couldn't believe it that it snowed just minutes before I left NJ. Thought that would be it for the snow, but no! It snowed for over an hour while in PA and some of VA. Awesome! I got out of the car twice just to walk around.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Canterwood Crest photo shoot :)

*happy sigh*

The second Canterwood Crest photo shoot #2 is a wrap! We had the best time and got soooo lucky with the weather! It threatened to rain at any second, but we made it through the entire day with only a few sprinkles here and there.

It was fantastic to see everyone and it was super-fun to see my "characters" again. The overall experience was just...surreal. This time, however, I DID make it through the day without being in total shock at what was going on around me, LOL.

A big, sparkly thank you to everyone involved. It was another unforgettable experience and I'm so grateful. We should totally do that every day. :)

I can't wait to reveal the covers over the coming months. Wait till you all see them!

Oooh, and if that wasn't enough, I now hold in my hands a CHASING BLUE ARC. I'll take a pic of it when I get home. The wrap around cover is beautiful.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Super sekrit revealed! :)

Okay, I've been teasing for long enough! Harmony called me out and reminded me that it IS Sunday--the day I promised to post details. you go!

I’m in a hotel room in NJ. So far from FL, I know!

Tomorrow…I get to hang out with Editor K and the Photo Shoot People! (Yes, they deserve caps ‘cause they’re awesome.) We’ll be meeting at the super-secret location south of NYC to shoot the new Canterwood Crest covers. I can’t wait to see everyone since it has been since late April. I almost can’t believe we’re doing this again. I feel so lucky! (Posts about photo shoot #1 are here.)

Last time, the day was a total blur because I was in such shock that it was actually happening. Models. Horses. People. All for Canterwood. It was the most surreal experience to meet actual girls who got to portray my characters. It’ll be fun to see them again! Plus, in April, it was the first time I met EK and AA and that alone was enough to make a girl nervous.

I’m sooo excited!!!

I typed the entire way up and will do so on the trip home because I’m a girl on a deadline. The TRIPLE FAULT outline is in desperate need of, um, words. Yeah. *considers erasing that sentence so EK and AA don’t get nervous*

But YAY! It might actually be unseasonably warm tomorrow, which would rock. Fingers crossed.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I've been teasing...

Okay, so I've been teasing on Twitter and Facebook that I've got super-fun news to share!! I've been getting the "tell us already!" comments. :)




I'm not sharing yet! (And I just noticed how the above sounds like a cheer, lol.) I will, however, reveal the previously mentioned cool news on Sunday. Yep, Sunday. Maybe via a vlog...I haven't decided.

Then, there will be a crazy-early Monday morning post as I...erm...hmm. That would give it away.

*zips lips*

Details on Sunday! :D

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles rap video book trailer

Wanna see something SERIOUSLY awesome? Check out Simone Elkeles' rap video book trailer for her upcoming YA release. You MUST watch the unrated version! It's soooo freaking good!

I've never seen anything like this and I'm SO ordering PERFECT CHEMISTRY.

Yay, Simone! :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Settling into outline mode

The blog might (or, you know, might not) get a little quiet over the next couple of days while I attempt to avoid the Internet and work on the TRIPLE FAULT outline. Plus, I reaaalllly need to do more work and less Internet because of...well...something awesome that I'll share quite soon! *excited dance*


Thanks to everyone who commented on the TAKE THE REINS video. Glad you all like it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Take the Reins book video!

I was going to wait until tomorrow to post this, but I'm going to be super-busy for the rest of the week,'s the book video for TAKE THE REINS! :)

The amazing Jo at Glass Slipper Webdesign created it and I absolutely love it!

Hope you like it!

Holiday pics

The tree!!

The mantle

Back of house

First batch of cookies
(Note: I did NOT bake these. No one would want that.)

I'm likin' the holiday cheer! :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Edgier than I thought! ;)

Okay, I'm attempting to put my blog bio on my profile page. Simple, right?


Apparently, according to Amazon, my bio contains profanity and will not be published. Profanity? Really? Where?

Jessica Burkhart, 21, started freelancing at 14 to feed her lip gloss addiction. Her forthcoming debut middle grade novel TAKE THE REINS (CANTERWOOD CREST), hits shelves in January 2009 and is available for pre-order now! This is the first book in her series for Aladdin MIX. Jess blogs for Teen Fiction Cafe. Visit her Website for more! She cross posts to LiveJournal. Visit the all new Canterwood Crest series Website here!

That's what I submitted and one word must be setting it off. Guesses? I'm going to take out a few words and try to figure it out, LOL.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thanks, everyone! :)

Thank you ALL so much for your comments about my new deal! I'm still replying to e-mails, MySpace messages and Facebook notes. It means so much that I have friends who are excited about Canterwood Crest. :) Yay!

One of the most...erm..."interesting" comments I got about my deal was, "Yeah, but more horse books? There are just horses? And girls? Do the girls ever have any life changing experiences?"

Well, um, I guess you'll find out when you read them!

Aside from that, I'm so excited and am working through the weekend to stay on schedule. People seemed to enjoy my PR Ninja post, so I'll try to do another one next week.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A new four-book deal!!! Yay! :D

Middle grade Jessica Burkhart's CANTERWOOD CREST series books 5-8, billed as The Clique meets The Saddle Club, to Kate Angelella at Aladdin, in a four-book deal, by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group (NA)

I am sooo thrilled to announce that I’ve signed a new four-book deal with Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin MIX for books five through eight in the Canterwood Crest series!! This has been in the works for weeks and I'm so happy that I can talk about it!! I’ll be working with the lovely and talented Kate Angelella who makes every outline, revision and chat session an absolute joy.

Big thank you to my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, for working out the deal and for being superexcited about Canterwood. Yay!

Thanks to everyone I’ve worked with so far at S&S.

Woo hoo! It feels amazing to be able to announce it and share the news with everyone!

It’s an incredible feeling that’s quite unlike the first book deal. With the first deal, I thought “Are they sure they want me? Really? Is this, like, a fluke where I’ll be a one-deal author and then I’ll disappear forever without another deal?”

Now, it’s an “OMG, they want me for more books. Maybe I have a real shot at doing this till I’m old!” ;)

I’m deeply grateful and humbled to be able to do what I love and thanks to everyone for supporting me—you know who you are. You do realize that by being my friends, you’ll eventually end up in a book, right? ;)

By the way, for a bit of weirdness, the offer was officially accepted eight years to the day of when I had my spinal fusion and stopped riding. How’s that for timing?

Books=Gifts video

I picked this up from GalleyCat. A handful of famous authors (Mary Higgins Clark, Dan Brown, Christopher Paolini) spoke about why books make great gifts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Domestic horses being released into the wild

I read this article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about how the hard economic times are affecting some horse owners. Some people in Nevada are actually setting their domestic horses free in the wild. Maybe it's because they can no longer afford them, can't sell them or don't want them. Whatever the case, these are DOMESTIC horses. They're not equipped to survive on their own and the article says many of these horses will die from starvation or even be hit by cars.

Sad. It's just like people turning out cats, dogs, birds, etc. that they no longer want. That's why responsible pet ownership is sooo important.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hello, my name is PR Ninja

I worked through Thanksgiving, and man, did it feel good! I got a lot done on BEHIND THE BIT and it's looking pretty! :)

I think I blogged before (or maybe I Facebooked it) about how my room had become a post office with Canterwood Crest mail. Well, I couldn't take the clutter, so I moved it out to the table.

This is what it looks like:
(The newest postcard!)

That's minus a stack of envelopes that went out to indies that requested signed TAKE THE REINS postcards and offered to put them out in Jan. Thanks, guys! I really appreciate your interest. A few of the store owners said, "Oh, btw, we saw your book in the S&S catalog" or "I'm excited to recommend it." One Kentucky bookstore owner even told me she was sure my book would do well in their state. You know, cause of the giant horse-loving population. That's supercool!

Now, I have an excuse to buy the rainbow pack of Sharpies that I've been eyeing but previously had no use for. They're perfect for postcard signing!


The postcards go fast. Really fast. 500 TTR postcards--spoken for and mostly gone. Less than 10 are left. 500 Chasing Blue postcards--already being sorted for stores/groups/stables/libraries, etc. 500 dual TTR/CB postcards--just arrived today. (If you own a bookstore/stable/whatever else and you'd like signed postcards, e-mail me.)

Yep, the TAKE THE REINS countdown is, well, going down! Less than 8 weeks. OMG. Bring it on! I am ready! My PR plan is begging to go into fullout action mode. I'm set to be a PR Ninja. :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advice up at NaNoWriMo

Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, emailed me last week and asked me to give my advice for the "I Wrote a Novel, Now What?" section of the NaNoWriMo Website.

My advice is up!

Here's what I said:

Up next, Jessica Burkhart. Twenty-one year old Jessica Burkhart’s debut middle-grade novel, Take the Reins, her 2006 NaNoNovel, hits stores in January 2009 from Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin MIX. When asked the same time travel question as S.A. Boodeen, Jessica responded:

I’d advise myself not to panic on December first and think, “Oh, no! This is not a perfect draft that’s ready to be sent to an agent this instant! I’ve failed NaNo!” Umm, no. The goal of NaNoWriMo was NOT to write a perfectly polished in 30 days. The objective was to draft a novel in a month. I did that. I’ve got 50,000-words that might not be poetic or dazzling, but there is a draft that’s ready for editing.

I’d remind myself of one of my favorite sayings—“You can’t edit a blank page.” I’d tell myself to celebrate the fact that I have a draft and that it’s okay to take a few days off before plunging ahead to editing. Let the manuscript breathe. It'll still be there next week.

Finally, I’d encourage myself not to be disheartened by the people who would eventually tell me, “There’s no way a book written in 30 days will ever be published!” C’mon, we all know that’s not true. I’d tell myself to direct those people to the roster of published NaNo authors. It’s an encouraging list!

Thanks, Chris! See you all in November 2009!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Horse books I read as a kid

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the horse books I read as a kid. And by "read," I mean devoured and read at least twice. There weren't enough horse books to keep me busy! So, I thought I'd run through some of my favorite horse books when I was a kid, starting with the Pony Tails series.

Bonnie Bryant, author of The Saddle Club, was already deep into The Saddle Club when she started a spin off with Corey, May and Jasmine--some of Pine Hollow's youngest riders. The girls were a couple of years younger than Carole, Lisa and Stevie (The Saddle Club), so the books taught young riders about horses in a special section at the back of the book. Very cute.

While I waited for the new Pony Tails book, I started reading Pony Pals by Jeanne Betancourt. Lulu, Pam and Anna were about the same age as the Pony Tails girls, but they didn't belong to a Pony Club or ride at a fancy stable. The girls spent most of their time rescuing ponies, trail riding and exploring their tiny hometown. I was a sucker for a good pony rescue!

National Velvet
. I have to say I've always liked the movie better! I adore Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney in the movie. The book is, well, kind of weird! Velvet is soo awkward and she has the ugliest horse (the author said that!). In the movie, Pie is a gorgeous chestnut and Velvet is stunning. The movie cut out lots of parts from the book that I didn't miss. National Velvet had me convinced for about six months that I wanted to be a jockey. If I couldn't ride during that phase, I made myself jump over branches, brooms laid across lawnchairs and even galloped around the backyard on my "horse." :)

Oh, to write about horses like Marguerite Henry. I read the box set of Misty of Chincoteague books over and over. They're even more special to me now when I realized Aladdin publishes them. I still want to visit Chincoteague Island, participate in a pony round up and adopt a Chincoteague pony.

I'll always love The Saddle Club! I think the series stopped at 110 books and I've read them all. I can practically recite the first book word for word. Bonnie Bryant did spin off The Saddle Club into the older Pine Hollow, but The Saddle Club is #1 with me. I could relate to all three of the girls--Lisa for being a straight-A geek, Stevie for being the queen of practical jokes and Carole for being superserious about horses.

Again, another series that I've read every book and still remember all of the major plot points from each book. A newspaper once called the Black "the most famous fictional horse of the century" and I have to agree. The Black Stallion movie is great, too. If you *have* to be stranded on a desert island, what better companion than a horse?

When I was really young, my mom and I read all of the Billy and Blaze books together. The illustrations (swoon!) are so amazing and the stories pulled me in. Billy and Blaze had the best adventures and I wanted to be Billy for a while. :)

My favorite series of all--Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell. I started with the fifth book (Ashleigh's Dream) and went back and read the first four. These books also encouraged my dream of being a jockey and/or owning a Thoroughbred farm. Joanna spun off Throughbred into the Ashleigh series--also excellent. I have yet to read all of those, but I'll probably start when my enormous reading pile dwindles.

That's enough horsey nostalgia for one day! :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Thanksgiving (almost) disasters

I think I STILL have a turkey hangover. Seriously. I stuffed my face with cranberries, turkey and waaay too much other food. The day was great! I was pretty much banned from the kitchen cause I'm quite dangerous in that department.

I did, however, volunteer to make the cranberry sauce. Simple, right? Water. Cranberries. Sugar. Boil. Stir. I could do this! Wellll...after the water and sugar had boiled, I went to pour in the cranberries. While I poured, I rested the bag on the superhot pot rim. Yep, the poor bag started to melt. On my berries.

Mom was like, "Thank you! Feel free to go back to work now, hon."


And then...we were filling up our plates and I decided I needed to stick my sweet potatoes in the microwave for JUST a few seconds. I could handle the microwave. So, I put the plate inside, closed the door and my finger hovered over the time button.

Mom appeared. "WAIT! NOOOO! That's a gold rim on that plate!!!"

Ohhh. Oops. Blowing up Mom's fancy china would have been quite sad.

That ended my time in the kitchen.

Anyone have a Thanksgiving mishap to share?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free holiday tunes from Oprah

Oprah's giving away eight holiday songs from artists such as Josh Groban and Faith Hill on her site. They're available for the next 48 hours, so if you want to download (it's legal!) them check here. (I'm watching her "Favorite Things" show and am thinking how it's just not as much fun without people screaming, crying and fainting over flatscreens!)

(You probably want to have high-speed Internet access since the songs are over 5MB each.)

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm on GalleyCat! :)

OMG! GalleyCat picked up my comment about National Novel Writing Month and did a little shout out. Thanks, GC! :)

Read it here!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Take the Reins and Chasing Blue at my library soon

Eeee! I just checked my local library's system and they ordered copies of TAKE THE REINS and CHASING BLUE. Thank you, library friends at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library! (Especially Ellen, Robert and Jean who always ask me how things are going--thanks guys!) It's wicked cool to see your book pop up in your own library system.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Want to give a gift that will keep on giving? Yes? Then give a book for a Christmas, Hanukkah, I <3 you or any other occasion this holiday season.

Random House is waging a war against book sale slumps for the fast approaching holiday season and they've created the "Books=Gifts" campaign.

If you're an aspiring writer and you dream of seeing your book on shelves, it makes sense to support the industry!

If you're already published, it's a no-brainer to buy more books!

Sure, the economy is tough right now, but books are not frivolous gifts. They're often cheaper than other forms of media, you can read them a zillion times and if you're giving them to a kid, it promotes literacy and all of that good stuff. :)

An excellent site is Buy Books for the Holidays. Check it out and add their button to your blog!

Also, indies are getting involved, too. Show them some love over the holidays.

Remember, Books=Gifts!

Want the banner I have over ----> (Not on LJ, sorry!)? Find it here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Author Visit: Courtney Sheinmel

Please welcome author of MY SO-CALLED FAMILY, Courtney Sheinmel!

About the book:

Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she’s a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: she doesn’t have a father, she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon’s Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.

Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can’t help but feel like something is missing. When she finds the link to the Lyon’s Sibling Registry, Leah knows she has to see if she has any half-siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her—even if she has to hide it from everybody else.

While writing MY SO-CALLED FAMILY, did you ever have a moment of “Oh, my gosh. I don’t know if I can do this!”?

Writing a book is really daunting – at least it is for me. And the worst part is the middle of it. The beginning comes rather easily, and the end is exciting just because I’m so close to being done, but the middle is always a struggle for me. Around chapter 7 or 8 of this book, I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to get through it. And the feeling lasted an awfully long time. I wish it was just a moment, but I tortured myself much longer than that – weeks, months! Even now, when I hold the book in hands, I can’t believe it is real. I can’t believe I made it to the end.

Which character in MY SO-CALLED FAMILY was the easiest to write? The most difficult?

Charlie was probably the easiest character to write and I had a blast with him.  Being an older sister myself,

it seemed very natural to give Leah a younger sibling (although she has a brother and I grew up with
a sister). And even though Charlie is only five years old, some of the things he says came directly out
of my friends’ mouths. He’s very smart for his age – Leah mentions that Charlie has a genius IQ –
so I hope my friends don’t mind that I gave their lines to a kindergartener. As for most difficult – there
wasn’t a character that was most difficult for me, there were just some scenes that were harder to write
than others.

You’re a part of the Class of 2k8, you blog and do other types of online and in-person marketing. Do you think it’s important for authors to promote their own books?

I think so – this is my first book, so I don’t really have the experience yet to know what works and what doesn’t. But I do think it’s important to stand behind your work. And being a part of the online community has certainly introduced me to a lot of other writers, which has been invaluable. For example, I got to meet (at least in the virtual sense) the spectacular Jessica Burkhart!

Your parents divorced when you were nine. Does this affect how you write for kids or ever influence the topics you choose?

Divorce and single parenthood are recurring themes in my books – I think it’s easier for me to imagine families like that because I didn’t grow up in a house with two parents. I lived with my mom and my sister in New York, and my dad lived across the country in California. It was a very emotionally charged time. This was back when it was fairly expensive to make long distance phone calls. We didn’t have a lot of money, and in the beginning my dad would call us once a week. There was always great anticipation for Saturday mornings, when my dad would call. I remember wanting to reach through the phone. I think that’s part of the reason why I write for kids – because I remember so much about that time in my life.

The idea for MY SO-CALLED FAMILY came from a segment I watched on “The Today Show,” and I don’t think my parents’ divorce was a big influence on the book. But the narrator of my next book, POSITIVELY, has divorced parents. And my middle grade novel that comes out in 2010, SINCERELY, SOPHIE/SINCERELY, KATIE, is in part about a sixth grader whose parents decide to separate.

Tell us about your work with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Thanks for asking me about it. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) is amazing!
It was founded in 1988 by three remarkable women – Elizabeth Glaser, Susie Zeegen, and Susan DeLaurentis.
I learned about it nearly 18 years ago, when I was 13 years old. I read an article about Elizabeth Glaser in People Magazine.
She was married to the actor Paul Michael Glaser. But she was also a mother who was infected with AIDS, and she had unknowingly
passed the disease onto her two children. After her daughter died, Elizabeth and her friends started the Foundation to try and save
’s son. I thought it was one of the most incredible and hopeful stories I had ever heard, and I began sending monthly donations
from my baby-sitting money.

Over the years my involvement has grown – I’ve volunteered at the Foundation’s office and at

different events, got my friends and family involved, and helped organize benefits to raise money for
pediatric AIDS research. And Elizabeth’s son, Jake, is now twenty-four years old and a very good friend
of mine.

What was the writing process like for MY SO-CALLED FAMILY?

I wrote MY SO-CALLED FAMILY while I was still practicing law, so it was basically written on the
weekends. I wouldn’t set my alarm clock, but as soon as I woke up in the morning, I would turn my
computer on. I tried to finish a chapter each weekend.

What’s next for you? Share!

I just finished going through the copy edits for my next book, POSITIVELY, which comes out September 8, 2009

– it’s about a 13 year old girl named Emerson who is living with HIV. It was a very tough, emotional book
to write, but I’m really proud of it. And I’ve just started working on a new book about a girl who lives
with her mother and sister, and is transplanted from New York City to Lancaster, PA (Amish Country!)
for the summer.

About Courtney:

Courtney Sheinmel grew up in California and New York. Her debut middle grade novel, My So-Called Family (Simon & Schuster, October 21, 2008), follows eighth grader Leah Hoffman-Ross, who has a donor instead of a father, and goes in search of her half-siblings. Courtney is also the author of Positively (September 8, 2009), and Sincerely, Sophie/Sincerely, Katie (Fall 2010). She lives in New York City.

Visit her Website and blog for more! Find My So-Called Family here!

Thanks for stopping by, Courtney! Please come back! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Twilight--the "lost" script

Sooo worthy of a double post! This is hilarious!!


(Alyson, I think you were right. I *am* rabid...)

Meryl Streep bringing Dewey to the big screen

Variety reported that Meryl Streep has been cast to play Vicki Myron in Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.

Move over, Marley! Cats are back! :D

I loved this book and can't wait to see it on the big screen. The movie was picked up by New Line Cinema. (Thanks to Alex for correcting my earlier mistake!)

In other news, I've got the lovely Courtney Sheinmel on my blog tomorrow. Check back for that!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BTB almost done! :D

I'm giving Behind the Bit its final proof before turning it in! Woo hoo! I can't speak enough, for me, about the value of an outline. I used to not outline as much, or at all. Now, I can't imagine not outlining chapter by chapter to get me where I want to go.

This month was much more NaNoEdMo than NaNoWriMo, but I'm still popping in on the forums and am loving following everyone's progress.

Got any NaNo word counts to share? Glee? Frustrations?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LOL--The Twilight Fans are going crazy!

I just saw an article on MSN that reported more than 3000 Twilight fans showed up at a San Fran mall to see Robert Pattinson. Police had to cancel the event because of safety reasons, lol.

Twilight mania is everywhere! I saw Rob on Access Hollywood last night and, according to him, he proposed to Kristen a few times on set. He then proposed to a couple of girls he can't remember and he was totally serious--but laughing at himself.

On Heroes last night, they had a Twilight sneak peak (which I'd seen, but okay). I also read in Entertainment Weekly that Twilight must gross $20 million in the opening weekend to make accountants happy. It also must earn $150 million for New Moon to get the green light.

And that's your dose of Twilight news! :D

Read the San Fran article here!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

All four Canterwood Crest books on Amazon. Wow!

Thanks to everyone for your kind words about the TRIPLE FAULT cover. Y'all are so nice! :)

I stalked myself again on Amazon and noticed that all four Canterwood Crest covers are now up.




All four. It's weird! The books still feel so abstract and they all (except for TAKE THE REINS) feel like Word documents.

Except, I did copyedits for CHASING BLUE this week and saw it in book form on paper. That's awesome! It was nothing like last time when I had a near meltdown over silly copyedits, lol. This time it was panic free! The best part? Snapping a pic of the dedication page with my phone and sending it to my friend. Fun!

I'm doing an interview on Wednesday (magazine name to come) and I'm excited about that.

Now, I'm shutting off my Wi-Fi and going back to edits. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

TRIPLE FAULT (Canterwood Crest #4) cover reveal!

I'm completely engrossed in copy edits for CHASING BLUE today and I just took a break to, ahem, stalk myself on Amazon. What did I see? The cover for TRIPLE FAULT (Canterwood Crest #4)!!

So, there you have it! :) Isn't it lovely? It just might be my favorite cover for the series, but I say that for each one.

Back to copyediting with my violet Crayola colored pencil...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

So...this was my day

Today was not the BEST day for being on a deadline.

(Stop reading now Editor K and anyone else waiting for the BTB manuscript...) ;)

I got nothing done. Well, okay, I read manuscript pages when I wasn't stalking Facebook, watching election TV coverage, calling friends to remind/pester them to vote, checking out the maps on CNN, going back to Facebook, selecting a new Incredimail notifier (an adorable turkey!), watching Oprah's election special, debating whether or not I need a winter background for MySpace, obsessing about my PR plan, muttering to myself about my ridiculous attempts not to edit and trying to convince myself that I really don't have enough pens in my favorite colors (pink, purple and green) and should go buy some.

Yes. There is no logic to any of that. Don't try to figure it out. This is my brain on too much coffee.

I'm ready to be up all night until we have a winner.

Breathe. Whew. :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

**Big announcement!**

Today is worthy of a double post!

I am thrilled to announce that Take the Reins (Canterwood Crest #1) has been picked up by Scholastic Book Fairs!


I'm just sooo excited that Sasha and friends will be able to find a wider audience through schools. Thank you, SBF!

Woo hoo!!!!

**Please scroll down for winners in PJ Hoover's giveaway**

PJ Hoover giveaway winners!

We have two winners in PJ Hoover's giveaway!

Cyndi and The Not So Closet Geeks

Yay! Please e-mail me at jessica [at] jessicaburkhart [dot] com by Wednesday afternoon with your address. I'll pass that to PJ and you'll get your prize!

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to PJ for stopping by. PJ, you were a lovely guest and please come back!

I'm in crazy editing mode and am making progress on BEHIND THE BIT. When I get in this obsessive mode, I stop reading. I just got a great pile of books (Valiant, The Gargoyle, Rumors) and am so wiped out from my own editing that I just don't feel like reading. I read zero pages over the weekend--I think that's a first!

That said, the manuscript progress is exciting and I had a fab weekend!

Good luck NaNoing friends! Anyone got a word count that they want to share? The site has been soooo slow, so I haven't even listened to Chris's latest WriMoRadio yet. Off to try it now...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Author Visit: P.J. Hoover!

Please welcome author of THE EMERALD TABLET, P.J. Hoover!

THE EMERALD TABLET's ARC cover. Both great and so different!

About the book:

Benjamin and his best friend Andy love being different from the other kids. They like being able to read each other’s minds and use their telekinesis to play tricks. In fact, they are getting set to spend their entire summer doing just that when Benjamin's mirror starts talking. Suddenly, he's looking at eight weeks of summer school someplace which can only be reached by a teleporter hidden in his hallway. And the summer only gets stranger.

At school, Benjamin discovers he isn't really human but something called a telegen. It turns out the powers he always thought made him special only make him normal. But then the mysterious Emerald Tablet chooses him as its champion, and all chances of an uneventful summer (well, as uneventful as summer school on a hidden, submerged continent can be) disappear.

Where did you get the idea for The Emerald Tablet?

Bad 80s TV! Seriously :)

The idea of kids having extra sensory powers came from a show I used to watch in the early 80s called The Power of Matthew Star ( Matthew Star was uber-good looking, from another planet, and had awesome powers. Something about this show stuck with me—how he was a kid who acted like a normal teenager but had these extra abilities he had to hide from the general population. I wanted to have powers like that, and I think kids these days do, also.

What was your writing process for this novel?

In writing, I get out a first draft normally as fast as I can. In the case of The Emerald Tablet, the first draft took about 3 months but was followed with a couple years of revisions (interspersed with writing the next two books in the trilogy).

I relish revisions. Love them. Especially when I get awesome feedback like I received from my editor. When I get feedback about adding scenes, moving things around, and cutting, I get excited, view it as a challenge, and dig in!

What’s the best thing about being a debut author?

All my friends are so excited for me. I think there’s probably nothing like a first book. With authors who’ve written 20 books, I can’t imagine people sending them emails, telling them how excited they are. But with a first book, everyone is excited! I’m guessing more on the 20th book it’s like:

Author: “I have a book coming out next month.”

Friend: “Another one?”

Author: “Yep.”

Friend: “Did you see the manicure I got yesterday?”

Author: Sigh.

Your bio says you’ve read Gone with the Wind seven times. What do you like so much about the book?

The clothes! I wanted to wear the big hoop skirts and talk like Scarlett O’Hara. And also, with Gone With the Wind, there was the movie. I loved seeing how things were left out of the movie that seemed important in the book. Scarlett had two other children in the book for Pete’s sake. I was astounded and fascinated to see no mention of them in the movie. I couldn’t believe they were allowed to do that!

Are you at all like your characters? If so, how?

Of course, I think there’s a part of me (or who I want to be) in all my characters. But of the five kids in The

Emerald Tablet I’m the most like Heidi Dylan. She’s this spunky girl who says what’s on her mind. She’s not the prettiest girl in the world. She’s not the best at everything. Heck, she can hardly lift a brick with telekinesis. But she can read minds like no one’s business. And in Book 3…well, you’ll just have to wait to find out :)

The cover for The Emerald Tablet is gorgeous! What was your reaction when you first saw it?

Thanks! It was like falling in love all over again. I got my cover at the beginning of the year, but it was a totally different cover. The ARC cover was gold with the earth in the middle and characters from the Lemurian alphabet around the sides. About in May my publisher told me there was going to be a different cover. I looked around on a stock photo site and saw the picture of Bangkok at night. I sent the link to the publisher, and I guess they liked it because it’s the one used on the cover of The Emerald Tablet.

Each time I see it, I love it even more! The colors are just so outstanding.

What book are you reading now?

Two currently:

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (JB Note: I still need to read this!)

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (JB Note: I heart this series!)

What’s next for you? Spill!

The second book in The Forgotten Worlds series, The Navel of the World, is scheduled for publication in Fall 2009, and the third, The Necropolis, is scheduled for publication in Fall 2010.

I’m working on a MG urban fantasy series with an Egyptian theme and also on a YA urban fantasy more based in mythology.

About the author:

P. J. Hoover grew up in Virginia visiting museums and dreaming of finding Atlantis. Prior to writing full time, PJ worked as an electrical engineer in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband, two children, Yorkshire terrier, and two tortoises—King Tort and Nefertorti.

More information about PJ Hoover and her books can be found at

Find P.J.'s blog at and purchase THE EMERALD TABLET here!

P.S. P.J.'s also a member of The Class of 2k8. Check them out, too!

All right! Want to win an ARC of P.J.'s book? She's giving away TWO ARCS! To enter, leave a comment here, on LiveJournal or both places! I'll draw a winner on Monday and if you're the lucky one, you MUST email me by that Wednesday with your address. Otherwise, I'll draw a new name. Good luck! :)

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