Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Here's your treat!

As promised, here's the first chapter of INITIATION (out Jan 3, 2011, but available for pre-order now!)

Oh, and because I heart Team Canterwood so much . . . I added chapter TWO! :D

Enjoy reading, be safe tonight, and have a happy Halloween!




11:59pm: Days left: 1!

Tomorrow morning! I leave home and Briar Creek for Canterwood Crest Academy. I got up to blog because I could not sleep. Usually, I’m up late on Friday’s anyway, but not like this. Blogging is than talking sometimes because I can sit down and let all of my thoughts come out unfiltered on the page. I’ve been blogging all summer—Dad’s suggestion—and now I’m totally addicted to it.

I’m scared about tomorrow. So scared. I’m still second guessing all of my decisions about everything. I’ll admit it: all of these questions keep rolling around my brain, like:

Am I leaving Briar Creek too soon?

Am I ready for the competitive riding life again?

Are Whisper and I prepared?

Will anyone find out my secret before I’m ready to talk about it or any other part of my past?

That last question is the one keeping me awake. Tonight and every night. . .

Posted by Lauren Towers



This was really it.

My breath caught, forcing me to sit on the bare twin bed. My parents and older sister, Becca, had dropped me off in my new dorm room only an hour ago.

I already had eight light blue sticky sticky notes lined up along my eggshell colored walls. At least I knew I was still me at Canterwood—the crazy-organized, to-do list compulsive girl that my friends liked to tease me about.

I stared at all the boxes with Lauren scrawled on each in grape Sharpie. My roommate hadn’t arrived yet, so I’d picked the right side of the room, hoping she wouldn’t mind.

This was surreal. I—Lauren Towers—was a seventh grader at Canterwood Crest Academy—one of the most elite boarding schools on the East Coast. The Connecticut school had a reputation for rigorous academics and, the main reason why I’d applied, an even more intense equestrian program. I picked up my Blackberry and scrolled through my photos. There were a few family pics of Mom, Dad and Becca and Charlotte—my oldest sister.

I tightened my grip on my phone’s sky blue gel case when a photo of me posing with my best friends, Brielle and Ana, popped up. In the picture, the three of us were smiling at the camera as we posed on horseback. We were—had been­, I corrected myself—riders at Briar Creek Stable. Even though it was summer in the photo, my skin was as porcelain pale as it was now in the fall. Sunlight glinted off Cricket, the Welsh-Cobb school pony that I’d ridden at Briar Creek.

I put my phone down—unable to continue looking at the pictures. They would only make me miss everyone and everything. I surveyed my room, boxes still dotting my side. Mom, Dad and Becca had helped me move in a ton of luggage, duffel bags and boxes. I imagined how it would look with my poster and my laptop. Right now, the room was empty. Once it was decorated, it would look amazing. I could tell already.

Gentle September sunlight streamed through two large curtainless windows. I couldn’t wait to decorate with my roommate. My room at home had a light blue and white color scheme. Light sky blue was my favorite color and decorating was one of my favorite things to do. I’d brought a messenger bag of pages and pages that I’d torn from design magazines for inspiration.

I lived and breathed for fashion, decorating, and riding. Hopefully, my roommate would like some of my ideas. The last thing I wanted was for us to clash on day one.

Khloe Kinsella, I said her name to myself. My guidance counselor and math teacher, Ms. Utz, had given me and Khloe each others’ e-mail addresses so we could determine who would bring what for our room. I’d started “what to bring to CC” list in a purple-with-silver-polka-dots notebook.

I’d e-mailed Khloe first just to say hi. Her reply was friendly enough, but she seemed really busy. She’d e-mailed sporadically throughout the summer and had given me just enough information to know what to bring to school. We hadn’t exchanged much personal information about each other. My stomach churned a little at the thought of meeting the girl I’d be living with for the year.

I weighed options, flipping through the Canterwood campus guide I’d gotten in the mail weeks ago. I wanted to go to the stable to see my horse, Whisper. But I was nervous about going to the stable alone. I’d been there with my parents and Becca to get Whisper settled. But everything had been so new and unfamiliar, I hadn’t paid attention to anything but Whisper. It was as if I hadn’t gone to the stable at all—I couldn’t even remember much of what it looked like let alone how to get there. It had been a whirlwind of activity around me. I did remember that Whisper had a giant, roomy box stall that she’d settled into quickly. And before I’d left, she’d taken a delicate sip of water from her pink bucket and started munching hay.

And okay, maybe there was…another reason I was stalling. Even though I knew no one recognized me—that no one paid attention to seventh graders—my nerves still wouldn’t go away. The fear that someone at the stable would look at me sideways, squint for one second too long and wonder if maybe I was that girl from TV. I tried to shake the thoughts from my head. I didn’t want to fixate on that.

Mom and Dad already spoke to Mr. Conner, I reminded myself. They’d already met with my riding instructor, Mr. Conner, and explained my background. He’d understood that I wanted to keep my past just that and had promised not to mention past competition experience or anything else that would connect me to what had happened. No one would find out anything from him—not one student on campus would know until—if—I ever decided to tell them myself.

I glanced out the window again, chewing the inside of my lip. I wanted to be with Whisper, but I wasn’t ready to face the new stable yet. Just a little more time. Maybe some unpacking would distract me. I began to visualize where I wanted to put some of my belongings. I stood, surveying the layout of the room again. The double room was even bigger than I’d expected. There were two twin beds separated by space for two beside tables. The windows above each bed looked over the gorgeous courtyard, which made the room feel even bigger.

On my side of the room, near the door, was a skinny counter with a microwave, two cabinets and space for the cheerful yellow mini-fridge that would be arriving any day from Pottery Barn Teen. Khloe and I had gone in on it together.

Each side of the room had its own closet with enough room on each side for one desk. I squinted my eyes. There was enough floor space for a small coffee table if Khloe and I decided we wanted one. I walked into the private bathroom, on Khloe’s side of the room. New white tile had been scrubbed clean, along with a shower with a glass door, a decent sized vanity mirror, and a wooden cabinet under the sink. I already had several ideas for color schemes in mind—I couldn’t wait to talk about them with Khloe. We’d learned over e-mail that both of our parents had given us “decorating allowances” to make the room feel like home.

I walked out of the bathroom, looking in the full length mirror beside the entrance. It had taken me almost all summer—no exaggeration!—to choose my first-day-at-Canterwood outfit.

Since it was Saturday, I’d decided to go for comfort-slash-chic. Skinny dark wash distressed jeans, a short-sleeve slouchy black tee with thin gray horizontal stripes, and a white tank underneath. For accessories, I’d decided on pearls. Classic and never out of style. I’d seen them on legendary icons from Audrey Hepburn to today’s hottest celebs featured in Trends Magazine.

I smoothed my long, wavy brown hair—letting the soft curls cascade down my back. My makeup was minimal—a sweep of shimmery caramel eyeshadow that made my blue eyes pop, concealer where needed and a coat of CoverGirl’s LipSlicks in Princess. Before we’d left home this morning, I’d applied a thin layer of Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF 30. I never left the house without sun block. Becca said my sunscreen obsession made me smell like summer all year round.

Footsteps stopped outside the door and a key turned in the lock. Khloe! My hand flew to my necklace—a beryl birthstone on a thin silver chain with a tiny diamond above it. Beryl stones were naturally clear, but my parents had gotten me one with a light blue tint.

The door opened and I clutched the blue stone tighter. A pretty girl with warm brown eyes stared at me. She was about my height, tan and her long blond hair hung in beachy waves around her shoulders. She looked as if she’d come from California, not Boston where she’d told me she lived. She looked trĂ©s glam in a white tier-ruffled A-line skirt, a clover green v-neck shirt and a three-quarters sleeve cardigan. Gucci sunglasses were perched on top of her head and delicate silver bangles hung from her tiny wrists.

She dropped two purple faux-crocodile bags that she’d had slung over her shoulders and they thudded to the floor.

She turned to face me, put her hands on her hips, and jutted out her chin. Her pearly pink lips pursed. “Well,” Khloe said flatly. “I guess you’ve already chosen my side of the room.”

copyright 2011 Jessica Burkhart

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thanks, Womango Regional High School!

I had the best Skype with you all! Everyone asked awesome questions and bravo Nick for jumping in! :) I love having guys in my sessions.

Good luck to all of you during NaNo and Tweet or Facebook me with your progress!

And, just because, here are some pics I took with my Webcam while waiting to Skype, lol . . .

(The kitty hat is from Kohls, btw!) :)

Happy Friday! xoxo

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello, NaNoWriMo 2011!

Ahh, NaNoWriMo is in the air! November 1st brings one of my favorite times of year--the month where hundreds of thousands of crazy writers try to write 50,000 words in a month.

I've been NaNoing since 2006 and my first NaNoNovel was TAKE THE REINS--the book that started the Canterwood series!

Here's what I've learned about NaNo:

FACT: You will consume more caffeine than you ever have.

FALSE: Your book won't be worth editing because you wrote it in a month.

FACT: You've got to write FAST. This forces you to turn off your inner editor. Buh-bye little editorial voice!

FALSE: On December 1st, your book will be perfect! Time to query agents or submit it to your editor if you have one already.

FACT: There are many NaNo critics. That's fine. To each his own. But I love NaNo!

FALSE: You've got to wait for the "perfect" time to do NaNo. This year's just too busy.

FACT: There will never be a perfect time to write a book. Life happens. Let it while you write a book!

FALSE: You need to invest in fancy software.

FACT: Use MS Word or whatever program came with your computer.

FALSE: You're too old. Or too young.

FACT: No one's too old or too young to write a novel.

I wish you ALL the best of luck this November. Get out there and rack up those words! I'll be NaNoing for the first couple of weeks of the month, but then I have to switch to editing for my POPULAR deadline.

Check out lots of tips on NaNo's Website that will offer much more help/advice.

Special shout out to the man who made it all possible, Chris Baty.

Go NaNoers!

Spook-tacular giveaway!

The witching hour nears! Halloween is almost here! I LOVE Halloween and haven't missed one year of watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. :)

So, who else loves Halloween? Anyone trick or treating? Dressing up for a party?

But . . . I think Team Canterwood deserves a Halloween treat--not a trick!

Anyone interested in the first chapter of INITIATION?

Leave a comment here about anything Halloween related AND if I get 30 comments by midnight on Halloween, I'll post the first chapter of INITIATION right here the next day! :)

Yay Brazil and Poland!

September 15, 2011

International rights: Children's
Polish rights to Jessica Burkhart's CANTERWOOD CREST series, to Dolnoslaskie, in a two-book deal, by Marcin Biegaj at Graal on behalf of Simon & Schuster Children's.
September 15, 2011

International rights: Non-fiction
Brazilian rights to Jessica Burkhart's CANTERWOOD CREST series, to Fundamento, in a ten-book deal, by Rachele Rabbino of the Sandra Bruna Literary Agency, on behalf of Simon & Schuster Children's.

I blogged about this before, but missed the actual PM announcements. I'm so excited and cannot wait to see Canterwoood in other languages! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to Brooklyn

K and I got home late last night from Mayo. Thank you ALL for the well wishes and inquiries about her surgery. She is healing, but the tests did not reveal anything that helped doctors determine how to stop her pain. So, we'll be going back in December.

I hope you're all having a good week and are getting ready for Halloween. It's my fave holiday--and Kate's!

Are you dressing up? Trick or treating? Attending a party?


Back to writing veeery fun scene in POPULAR. :p

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Half a million!?

You guys! Thanks to *YOU* and I mean, each and every member of Team Canterwood, there are half a million Canterwood Crest books in print. Talk about insane! What great news for a stressful week.

We're getting ready to leave for Mayo #3 on Saturday. Thank you all for chiming in on the Facebook page and saying you'll take 10 seconds out of you day to send good thoughts to Kate during her surgery next Tuesday. We love you all.

I think I'm going to take a break from work and watch GOSSIP GIRL: season one with Kate. We're starting at episode one. We both stopped watching after two or three seasons, but I loved the first.



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Horses Never Lie About Love by Jana Harris

“With lyrical writing and a gift for drawing in the reader from the first sentence, Jana Harris has created a memoir that any equine-enthusiast would devour and any reader unfamiliar with horses would find identifiable. The love Harris has for horses is palpable on the page and every chapter made me fall in love with her memorable horses and their incredible story.”

--Jessica Burkhart, author of the Canterwood Crest series

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book and was asked to blurb it if I liked it. I LOVE this memoir. I can't say enough about it and cannot wait for it to release in early November. It's a must-read for any horse lover. The pages flew by and I stayed up waaay too late reading this book. I, erm, even missed my train stop once. :)

Definitely check out HORSES NEVER LIE ABOUT LOVE by Jana Harris. It's available for preorder in many locations.

And don't take my word for it, here are all the blurbs and a summary of the book:

(Thanks to Amazon.)

I lost track of all time and space once I opened this incisive, eloquent, sometimes lyrical, sometimes comic book. The story of True Colors and the raising up and training of her foals mesmerized me. Harris's memoir won my heart."

-- Maxine Kumin, Poet Laureate, 1981-1982

“Most horse books are practical, but a surprisingly large proportion of the literature focuses on the spiritual relationship between horses and women. Jana Harris’s inspiring memoir about her relationship with True Colors, a Thoroughbred mare whose problems are offset by her success as a broodmare, explores the psychological aspect of their bond, but what sets this book apart from the others is that the author also provides an enormous amount of practical information about her education in the art of raising horses. We struggle right alongside her as she copes with serious medical and behavioral issues and we share her joy in welcoming each new foal. The author has succeeded in making the reader part of her dream, and this is a remarkable accomplishment.”

-- Barbara Burn, author of The Horseless Rider and 101 Dressage Tips and co-author of The Whole Horse Catalog.

"I could not put down this engrossing, beautiful book and savored every page. Harris’s writing is so delicious that I could feel the country breeze, smell the hay, and hear the horses nickering. Her characters are so real and colorful that you’ll be captivated immediately. Each animal has a unique personality, likes, and dislikes. This book is a treasure, to be re-read over and over again. A lovely, delightful experience."

--Stacey O’Brien, author of Wesley the Owl

“With lyrical writing and a gift for drawing in the reader from the first sentence, Jana Harris has created a memoir that any equine-enthusiast would devour and any reader unfamiliar with horses would find identifiable. The love Harris has for horses is palpable on the page and every chapter made me fall in love with her memorable horses and their incredible story.”

--Jessica Burkhart, author of the Canterwood Crest series

"I fell in love, page after page, with Jana Harris' horses and the rough landscape where she raises them, following with her the pain, doubts, and joys of tending them, not unlike what I experienced with the pigs and goats that I once tended."

-- Georgeanne Brennan, author of A Pig in Provence

“What a beautiful book Jana Harris has written about the horses--remarkably individual, lovingly described and given life by her incandescent prose--that have entered her life! Horses Never Lie about Love is also an intimate portrait of a marriage--the story of Jana and Mark and their family of horses through the years. It's a tender book, often a funny book; sad, heartrending, uplifting, exuberant and suffused with hope.”

-- Joyce Carol Oates

Product Description

When Jana Harris moved with her husband to Washington State for a teaching job, she realized that she could also fulfill her lifelong dream of having a horse farm. And Harris knew the horse on whom she could build her dreams the minute she saw her on a ranch in the Eastern Mountains where a herd had been corralled to be sold: a beautiful, deep dark red–colored mare known as a blood bay, standing about sixteen hands, with a pretty head with a white star and a narrow stripe that slid down her face to two black nostrils. Something about the way the mare guarded her handsome foal, a black two-month-old 200-pound colt, spoke to Harris. The mare was named True Colors.

But when True Colors was delivered to Harris’s ranch three months later, she was unrecognizable. She had gone feral, run away, and been recaptured. Terrified of people, she was head-shy from the infected sores on her face and her lungs were damaged by smoke-induced pneumonia. She sensed demons hiding in everything from the scent of fabric softener on clothes to a gate in a fence. Her will to escape was enormous. This injured, traumatized horse existed between two worlds—wild and domesticated—and belonged to neither. But there were glimmers of hope: The other horses fell in love with her on sight, just as Harris had. And true to her name and herself, True Colors would never pretend to be something she was not; with her wise, intuitive nature, she would end up changing the lives of everyone she encountered, animal and human.

Horses Never Lie About Love is the story of this remarkable horse and the revelations about life and love that she gave Harris over the course of their decades together. Now thirty-three years old, this complex, magnetic animal retains the outsize personality that transforms everyone around her, both human and equine. True Colors has grown to become the heart of the range and the farm, her quiet wisdom transmitting a strength of character that transcends the thin line between animals and the humans they love. There is a famous horseman’s saying: A horse never lies about its pain. But maybe we should also consider: A horse never lies about love.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Favor, please

If you have Facebook, will you take a look at my "Good Thoughts for Kate" event on October 11th? I'm asking people to take 5 seconds out of their day then to send good thoughts Kate's way while she's in surgery. Surgery we hope will help her with pain.

If you join and spread the word, I'd be so, so grateful. Thank you for everything you've all already done!



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