Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interview with tween author Jessica Burkhart!

Alright, writers...if you *ever* needed motivation to start/maintain a blog, read the interview below with tween author Jessica Burhart, author of Take the Reins, the first book in the new Canterwood Crest series!  Many thanks, Jessica, for stopping by! 

Please tell us a little bit about Take the Reins and the Canterwood Crest series.
Take the Reins introduces readers to small-town girl Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm.  Charm and Sasha leave their tiny hometown and come to Canterwood Crest - a ritzy Connecticut boarding school.  Sasha has to fight for a spot on Canterwood's advanced riding team.  And, of course, she juggles new friendships, mean girls and an oh-so-adorable boy.  

I'd categorize the series as tween chick lit with horses.

Okay, have four books coming out this year?!  Wowza!  However do you do it - juggling the writing, revising and marketing?  Please give us a glimpse into your work day.
Actually, my schedule just got bumped up to SIX for 2009. *grins* Oh, yeah.  I thought I knew what "busy" meant.  Nope.  I didn't.  I'm up early and I work all day on writing, edits, revising, marketing, blogging and everything else that goes along with being a writer.  It's a tough schedule, but I love it.

With that said, I'm working on finding the balance between total workaholic and a girl who wants to figure out more things about herself and what she wants out of life. :)

What's the trickiest part about writing a series?
Remembering what happened in what book.  It gets confusing sometimes.  I have to go back and check drafts to keep things straight!

You started freelance writing at 14 - so cool!  What kinds of writing have you done?
My first published piece was in Teen Ink Magazine when I was fourteen.  It was a personal essay about how moving so many times had affected me.  I wrote about how difficult it was to get used to new places and how it wasn't easy to make new friends every year or so.

After the Teen Ink piece, I kept writing personal pieces about whatever I was going through.  I had a few poems published and it was an outlet for me to express what I wouldn't say to friends or family about how I felt.  It sounds odd to say that, since the poems were published.  But it was easier to have strangers read my thoughts than to say them to people in my life.  

Worry about putting too many personal pieces out there crept in as I got older, so I switched to non-fiction articles.  I've written about lots of topics from drug addition to starting a rock band, so I've never been bored with freelancing.  I'm focused on fiction right now, so I only do pieces that are assigned to me by editors.

Please tell us about your path to publication.  Any advice for pre-published writers?
I started with freelancing and I did that from fourteen to nineteen.  Then, I switched over to focus on fiction.  I wrote Take the Reins for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month) 2006 and then blogged about that December.  An agent stumbled onto my blog, saw that I was seeking representation for a horse-themed novel and asked to see it.  She liked it, we clicked and I signed with her.  I revised from January 2007 - May 2007 and she put it on sub.  Within a few days, we had a four-book offer from Simon & Schuster.  What a crazy ride!

I'd advice pre-pubbed writers to blog!  My agent found me through my blog, so I'm a big believer in Blog Power. :)  I heart blogging!

Who has been your favorite character to write, and why?  Your least favorite?
Heather Fox, my #1 mean girl, has been my favorite to write.  She says the most awful things and they're so fun to write!  I love writing her dialogue and being mean (in fiction!) is fun.

Least favorite...hmm.  Maybe the guys just because they're harder to write.  I have to put myself in a guy's perspective and that can be difficult depending on the scene.

And finally:  do you do things different?  :)
Why yes, Kristin, I do!  And I hope to do even more of that in the future!  Yay!

Thank you for sharing your insights, Jessica!  Best of luck to you, Take the Reins, and the Canterwood Crest series!
Thanks so much for hosting me, Kristin!


Jessica Burkhart said...

Thanks, Kristin! :)

Barrie said...

That was a very inspiring interview!

Rae Ann Parker said...

Congratulations to Jessica on your debut novel coming out and thanks for a great interview, Kristin. I really needed to hear the role Jessica's blog paid in her sale. Sometimes I wonder if blogging is worth the time, well, except for all the wonderful writers I meet. ;)

Kristin Tubb said...

Rae Ann, I hear ya! Another good example of how to keep your WIPs on your blog (for that agent who just happens to stop in!) is: Shelli lists all her WIPs on the right-hand side of her blog, in a permanent column. Great idea!

Kristin Tubb said...

Thanks for visiting, Barrie! And I saw Sherry's third book has a title - looking forward to "I So Don't Do Makeup!" :-)

Irene Latham said...

Hi Kristin - I think you and I write the same kind of books. :) Congrats on AUGUST, and nice to "meet" you on the SB listserv!

Mitch Wallace said...

Jessica, it's always inspiring to read about your relentless writing schedule. Whenever I have a day when I don't exactly feel like writing, I think, "I bet Jessica's writing right now - what am I blubbering about?"

And hearing so much about you being discovered on your blog has given me incentive to talk about my almost-finished novel on my own page, just in case the right person pops in. You never know!

Shelli said...

love jessica! great interview - thanks kristen :)