Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

To all who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas Eve!

Anyone tracking Santa on NORAD?

What are you hoping to find under the tree? Or, when you open your gifts, come back and tell me what you got! :)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I've got a new agent!

I'm incredibly excited to announce that after three years, I've signed with a new agent! I'd taken a break from the agent world and had been so busy writing Canterwood that I hadn't started searching until recently.

I'm so lucky and grateful to have been signed by the AWESOME Rubin Pfeffer of East West Literary Agency. This recommendation is all thanks to my bestie, Kate Angelella, who personally knows Rubin and thought we'd be a good match. As always, (don't tell her I said that!!) it appears K was right. :)

Happy, happy holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy holidays!

I wanted to let you know that I'll be on a little vacay from blogging as we move into the holiday season. I hope to be able to post at least once to share some SUPER SEKRIT AWESOME NEWS, but aside from that, things will likely be quiet around here. 

I hope you all have a safe, warm holiday filled with loved ones. :) 

Much <3 all="all" p="p" to="to" you="you">


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Teen Author MEGA Reading Night!

Ahh, so excited! I'll be at the Jefferson Market Branch of the NYPL at 6pm on Wednesday, December 5th. The event will last from 6-7:30pm.

Here's a link to the details!

And check out the fab line up of authors:

Daphne Benedis-Grab, The Girl in the Wall
Jessica Burkhart, from Dear Teen Me
Colleen Clayton, What Happens Next
Melissa de la Cruz, Wolf Pact
PG Kain, Dramatic Pause
Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Redemption
Hope to see you there! :) 

YA for NJ is LIVE!

Check it out and BID to help NJ victims of Sandy!

So far, if the auction was stopped RIGHT NOW, we will have raised over $6000 thanks to you! :)

I've got two signed books and a free Skype visit up for grabs and there are many, many more superawesome prizes!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

YA for NJ

Thanks to Kieran Scott (Kate Brian), I'm participating in her AWESOME idea: YA for NJ! (Like it on Facebook!)

The basic run down (quoting from the linked PW article below):

Kieran got together "170 young adult and middle-grade authors for a YA for NJ benefit auction, hosted by eBay Giving Works, to fill the coffers of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey." The action, running from November 30 to December 7th will benefit people in need of food because of Hurricane Sandy.

I'm offering up: 

a signed copy of Popular
a signed copy of Comeback
a free 30 minute classroom Skype session

Check out the auction here and please bid for a good cause! 

YA for NJ got some awesome coverage in Publishers Weekly! Yay!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster merger?!


First, it was Penguin and Random House. That JUST happened.

Now, it's HarperCollins in preliminary talks to buy S&S.

My best friend called it when the first talk of a merge happened. She predicted this one, too. I didn't know if it would, but wow does it feel scary.

How strange it will be not to say "The Big Six?"

I know jobs will be lost in house and I'm sure that will impact authors as well.


Um, back to writing. A lot. Very fast.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

From NaNoNovel to published series

I am one of the VERY grateful authors who has had a NaNoNovel published. Mine was my 2006 NaNoNovel, TAKE THE REINS (Simon & Schuster, 2009).

I love, love NaNoWriMo and thought I'd share my journey with you! I blogged a lot during 2006 on my old blog, so I wanted to post the links to the entries and you can see how TTR went from idea to a 20-book series.

Keep in mind, in October, I had no idea what to write and didn't decide until two days before to enter! I was also a 19-year old senior in college at Florida State University taking a full course load. But I WANTED this. No matter how busy you are, treat NaNo like a job and DO IT!

I hope you have fun looking over my timeline! It certainly took me back down memory lane. :)


NaNo Day 2

NaNo Day 3

NaNo Day 4

NaNo Day 5

NaNo Day 7

NaNo Day 8

NaNo Day 9

NaNo Day 10

NaNo Day 12

NaNo Day 13

NaNo Day 14

NaNo Day 16

NaNo Day 20

NaNo Day 21

NaNo Day 22

NaNo Day 26

After NaNo and onto publication:

December 6

December 20


January 7, 2007
(Take the Reins was called Freshman Fifteen for a while and it was YA!)

January 18

February 7

May 24

June 5

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My photo inspired by Lady Gaga's Body Revolution

Jess Ashley's take on Lady Gaga's Body Revolution 10/17/12

There have been a lot of positive (and some negative) comments in the media recently about Lady Gaga's Body Revolution. In short, the movement is about loving and accepting your body exactly the way it is. Many people are posting their own shots on I wasn't "born this way," but I'm proud of how I now look.

2: titanium rods in my back
12: number of inches long each rod is
4: inches of height I gained after my spinal fusion
6: pints of my blood used during surgery
1: year until full recovery
9: hours in surgery
0: number of scoliosis cases worse than mine that the doctors had seen
13: age I was at the time of surgery
25: age I am now


*Photo credit: Kate Angelella
Cross-posted from

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dear Teen Me blog tour kick off!

I'm so excited to be the first author in a line up ahhh-mazing writers to kick off the Dear Teen Me Blog Tour!

If you're not familiar with DTM, here's the official scoop:

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves. (Zest Books, October 30, 2012, $14.99; ISBN 978-1-9369762-1-8) edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson. Zest Books, a leading publisher of nonfiction for young adult readers, is distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Over 70 YA and MG authors write letters to their teenage selves. 

The co-editors, Miranda Kenneally (below) and E. Kristin Anderson (right) are pretty awesome!

 We're very grateful that DTM found a home with Zest Books. I cannot wait until it hits shelves on October 30! Woot!

Anyone in the mood for a . . . prize? :) Leave a comment in this post about anything you like and make sure to leave your address. A WEEK from today (Monday, October 22 at midnight EST) the contest ends and I'll use a random generator to choose a winner. I'll contact you for your name and mailing address (US residents only, sorry!) and you'll get your prize from the folks at Zest!

You'll receive: an autographed copy of DTM (singed by 4-5 authors), post cards, and bookmarks. See the winner's swag below. :)

So, now that you know what DTM is, I thought I'd share the reason WHY I wrote my letter. It started as a blog post on DTM's Website and then I was contacted by the editors to be asked if I'd like to participate in the anthology. Excited? Big time! Nervous? Um, yeah!

I had to write a new story from the one that was posted on It would have been so easy for me if copy and paste were an option. Then I wouldn't have to think about that Dark Scary Place again. But I was glad, at the same time, that I did have to write a new story. This time, I pushed myself to go darker, access deeper hidden away feelings, and get myself to a place where it felt as though I'd overdosed on caffeine. 

I bared my feelings to a Word document and was left breathless and feeling as though I wasn't the Brooklyn girl with the tattoo(the date I moved to Brooklyn), who was addicted to Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes, who had seven piercings, who lived a block and a half from her BFFL, who loved walking the streets and avenue blocks in the summer, and who had discovered a new passion for photography.

Writing my essay had sucked me back into the black hole. The Bermuda triangle. The place where even now makes my (Pause. Sorry. Have to grab a Xanax.) palms sweat, my voice low, and my thoughts try to change the subject. HEY! Do you guys wanna hear about what I'm doing for Lady Gaga's Body Revolution project? Ack! See! <----- Told you I'd try to change topics!

Okay. Writing that piece made me feel everything from sure that I'd vomit to holy-shit-I-did-it to a heartbeat so hard and loud that I was sure everyone in the apartment could hear it. I felt guilt. Shame. Terrific sadness. Loss. Pride. Love. Trapped. Friendship. Freedom. I remembered what it felt like to be there and feeling suicidal. I felt ugly. Hungry. Scared.

I could see my entire future laid out in front of Old Me. There was no change unless I made it happen--I wouldn't, I was too scared on my own. I envisioned my paychecks for Canterwood arriving and never seeing the check except to sign it. The money, and not to brag but rather to show the craziness (that's so the wrong word. Where's my editor BFF when I need her?!) of my then situation, was an amount that was enough to keep a family of four in Florida able to pay the bills and have a little extra.

That would have been fine with Old Me. But the money I earned never went to the family. I fought and argued over every check that was taken by an insane person (using insane here as "one who does the same thing over and over and expects a different outcome each time") and deposited into the latest Get Rich Quick Scheme. Old Me would have fought until she ran out of air for the money to be used for the right things. Old Me, even at a legal age, would not have left the emotionally and verbally abusive environment. She would have thought that the only thing she could do was write books, make money to keep the Insane Person happy, and do nothing else. She was her books.

That was until Old Me met Kate (far left at right) and I became New Me. New Me hated Old Me. She hated her behavior and ways of bowing down to a man. New Me despised Old Me for not being stronger. For not leaving the day she turned eighteen. For being so afraid.

Kate taught New Me not to hate old me. K taught New Me to forgive Old Me and keep learning and growing as a person. With her love, help, friendship, and teaching I very slowly became New Me and Old Me disappeared. It doesn't mean Old Me still doesn't make appearances from time to time--she does--but as time passes Old Me stays away longer and longer.

(And when I saw Kate "taught" me in the paragraph above, I really do mean taught. Remember that scene in Mean Girls where Cady, Regina, Gretchen, and Karen are in Regina's bedroom for the first time? Regina turns on the radio. They have a convo that goes like this:

Regina: Cady, do you even know who sings this?

Cady: Um . . . the Spice Girls?

Regina: I love her. She's just like a Martian!

Martian Jess was the Old Me at nineteen! I'd never used (or really knew what it was) a debit card, never filled a gas tank, hadn't had cable for over 11 years, had only seen two R-rated movies, let my parents drive me to college, hadn't been to public/private school since 7th grade, and a million other things that made me Old Jess. Kate was patient enough to take someone with the knowledge of the world kind of like Cady's and teach me how things in Brooklyn worked. How things in life worked.

Now you get why she's my bestie, right?

Flash forward to now:

I was on my way out the door when my DTM galley came. Even though I was already late for a doctor appointment, I stopped, ripped open the envelope, and flipped though many familiar author faces. I caught words such as "suicide," "anorexic," "bullied," "love," and finally found my own story.

My first reaction?


That lasted 1.5 seconds. Immediately, a "Whoa. I really did it and look at this beautiful collection of stories." feeling replaced it. I feel immense pride and gratefulness that my name is one that appears alongside authors whose work I've been in love with for years. Authors whom have helped me on the road to becoming New Jess.

There's no such thing as a crystal ball or a way to change how my teen years turned out. If if I could, I honestly wouldn't change a thing.

Writing a letter to my nineteen-year-old self from a now twenty-five year old's perspective was pretty damn satisfying.
Jessica Burkhart (a pseudonym for Jess Ashley) is the author of the 20-book Canterwood Crest series for Aladdin MIX. She has many WIPs, one of which includes KEPT, a fictionalized version of her life told in verse. Jess co-owns Violet & Ruby with Kate and they plan to release dominate, their first e-novella soon. Visit for more!

Go pre-order your copy of DTM today or find us online! Here's how:

Keep up with our blog tour:

Dear Teen Me website:
Dear Teen Me events page:
Zest Books Dear Teen Me book page:

Here we are on Social Media! 
Twitter: Please us the #DearTeenMe hashtag in your Tweets!
Zest Books Facebook profile:
Zest Books Facebook page: 
Zest Books website:
YouTube: (Dear Teen Me videos coming next week!)
Dear Teen Me LibraryThing:
Dear Teen Me site:
Dear Teen Me
E. Kristin Anderson Facebook:
E. Kristin Anderson Twitter:
Miranda Kenneally:

Pre-order DTM:


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