Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's Fresh with Jessica Burkhart's Take The Reins
Hello Jessica! Its awesome to have you here. I remember when first made the sale and its so cool to have you with us to chat. :) Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Jessica: I started freelancing for magazines in 2001 when I was fourteen. It took dozens of queries (you know, those awful “dear sir or madam” ones!) before I paused, read a few books on how to write queries and started again. Soon, I had my first acceptance from Teen Ink—a magazine that publishes work by students. I spent months writing for free to build my clip file and then I started targeting bigger magazines. I was so proud when I got my first freelancing check for $5. Party time! :)

I kept working my way up until I had acceptances from national magazines such as Girls’ Life and The Writer.

In November 2006, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and wrote Take the Reins as part of their “write a novel in 30 days” contest. I had a (bad!) finished draft on December first. I blogged that I’d finished my horse-themed novel and was looking for an agent.

On January 4, 2007, I got an e-mail from an agent who said she’d read my blog and would like to request my manuscript. Really?! I researched her, checked out the agency and e-mailed one of my published friends for advice before sending out the manuscript.

Later that month, I signed with Agent A. She gave me feedback on the manuscript and I revised from February to May before she submitted it to publishers. A few days after it went on submission, we had an offer from Simon & Schuster for a four-book deal. Getting The Call is a moment I’ll never forget!

You never forget your first call! Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Jessica: Since I’m writing a series, there’s always something going on with multiple books. I might be working on copyedits for book #3, forming an idea for book #5 and writing the first draft of book #4 all at the same time.

My daily writing schedule is often something like this:

* Laptop on and ready for work! But…
* Must read top friends’ updates on Facebook
* Scan LiveJournal friends’ pages
* Comment on a few LJ blogs
* Read 47 new e-mails
* Respond to at least 5 of those 47 e-mails
* Check Facebook one more time
* Read Blogger friends’ entries
* Convince myself that nothing major happened on Facebook in the last 5 minutes
* Open Word instead of Google-stalking myself
* Write
* Write
* Write
* Keep writing while Incredimail e-mail notifier checks for new messages every three minutes. It barks, meows, sings or claps when I have new mail. That never gets old.
* Break for food.
* Check to see if anyone died on General Hospital
* Back to writing

I usually wrap it up by late evening. Then, I spend a couple of hours reading, working on publicity or proofreading printed pages.

Please tell us about your latest novel Take the Reins and what we can expect from your characters.

Jessica: Take the Reins releases on January 27, 2009 from Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin MIX and it’s the first book in the Canterwood Crest series.

Here’s a bit about the book…

Who says teammates have to be friends?

When Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, arrive on the campus of the elite Canterwood Crest Academy, Sasha knows that she's in trouble. She's not exactly welcomed with open arms. One group of girls in particular is used to being the best, the brightest, and the prettiest on the team, and when Sasha shows her skills in the arena, the girls' claws come out.

Sasha is determined to prove that she belongs at Canterwood. Will she rise to the occasion and make the advanced riding team by the end of her first semester? Or will the pressure send Sasha packing?

Great! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Jessica: The next few months are going to be Canterwood crazy! :) Chasing Blue (Canterwood Crest #2) comes out in March 2009 and I can’t wait! The third CC book, Behind the Bit, releases in May 2009. Right now, I’m writing Triple Fault, the fourth book, and it comes out in August 2009.

So, yeah, I’ve got a few things coming up. :)

Congrats and best of luck, Jessica! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Jessica: Start a blog! After Agent A found me through my blog, I always encourage others to start one. Update it as often as you can and try to find that balance between personal and professional. Blogging is a great way to network with others in the publishing industry and it’s a challenge to keep coming up with fresh blog content.

My favorite reason for blogging is that mine documents my journey in publishing. Occasionally, I’ll read my old blog entries from 2006 and it reminds me of where I started. It’s fun to have something to look back on. :)

Jessica Burkhart is a twenty-one year old author. Before writing books, Jess published over 100 articles in magazines such as Girls’ Life and The Writer. Take the Reins, her debut middle-grade novel, releases on January 27, 2009 from Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin MIX. Find bonus Canterwood Crest content, a book trailer and more at and view Jess’ Diary of a Debut Author vlogs at

5 fresh comments:

Jessica Burkhart said...

Thanks so much, Kelly and Tina! :) Yay YA Fresh! :)

Saundra Mitchell said...

Sadly, what Jessica doesn't tell you is that 32 of the e-mails are from me. And all they say in them is, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE YOUR BOOK IS OUT!"

Jessica Burkhart said...

LOL. Saundra is sooo right!! :) Her emails always crack me up.

TinaFerraro said...

Yay, so happy to have you here, Jessica and to help you celebrate your debut!

Dell 5110cn toner said...

Hey Kelly,
Well I think that might be a bit true. Everyone has a bit of deep truth in them that isn't really visible at most times. But hey what can I say.. Do we Really want to know the absolute truth about Everyone?? Sometimes, the inner secrets of a person should remain unknown, of course if they harm no body. I do think that stories though, are entertaining whether they are positive or negative, because they depict a 'kodak moment' in time that tells a story. You're right, everybody loves a story or two, so why not imagine your life a big story and be a great story teller!