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...

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