Girls Horse Club Blog

INTERACTIVE VIEW: Jessica Burkhart

Published by • Feb 7th, 2009 • Category: Interactive View

Welcome to the INTERACTIVE VIEW, an interview where *YOU* ask the questions. Please give a warm Girls Horse Club welcome to Jessica Burkhart, horse girl and author of the Canterwood Crest book series. Jessica will respond to your questions from now until Friday February 13th.

To get started, read the intro and instructions below. Have fun!

Jessica BurkhartINTRO: Horse-Crazy Jessica started writing at age 14 to fill a void after spinal fusion for severe scoliosis meant she could no longer ride horses. Canterwood CrestWhile building her author’s resume with more than 100 articles as a freelancer for teen magazines, Jessica started college at age 16. As a senior at Florida State University she signed up to write a novel in 30 days as part of the National Novel Writing Month. By the time she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in English at age 20, she had an agent and a book deal with Simon & Schuster. Go horse girls!


  1. Please be aware of our Ground Rules, then simply scroll down and enter your question in the box that says ‘BE HEARD IN THE HERD’.
  2. Keep in mind this is not a live interview, it’s more like an ongoing party with people coming in and out each day. Jessica will check in periodically and respond to your questions in her own words. Girls Horse Club will moderate.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 14th, 2008: Questions are now closed. Many thanks to Jessica Burkhart for visiting our virtual barn and answering your questions. Please read the comments for plenty of inspiration and great advice from this talented author!

79 Nickers »

  1. Can you reccommend a certain age that Canterwood Crest readers might need to be, Jessica? Well, I’m sorry if I’m right to the point. Welcome to GHC!

  2. Hi Jessica! I am so excited you are here. Well I got to run to get ready for dance class but I just thought I’d welcome you!

  3. Hi, everyone! I’m so glad to be here! :)

    WIld Rose, CC is geared for tween readers–ages 8 to 12.

    Hey, Blaze’ncowgirl! :)

  4. Hi. I love writing books too and I wonder if you could give me any tips?

  5. Welcome to GHC Jessica! I often get ideas for books, and I start writing them. The only problem is, it’s only a matter of days before I get another idea! Do you have any tips for getting them done without abondaning the others?

  6. Welcome Jessica! You are going to be a great addition to GHC! I haven’t even read any of your books yet and I know you are a great writer! I can’t wait to start reading Canterwood Crest! Can’t wait to hear more!!

    You’re pasture mate, Lauren

  7. Hi, DianaLuv<3,

    It’s so great to meet someone else who loves writing too. If you’re looking for tips to become a better writer (I’m always up for tips for my work!) then there are definitely a few things I’d do.

    * Read everything you can. All different genres, authors you’ve never heard of and genres you think you won’t like. You might be surprised at what inspires your work.

    * Write whenever you can! It’s the BEST way to practice.

    * Write what you love and not what you think people want to read. When I got started, my biggest mistake was writing what I thought editors would publish instead of what I really wanted to write. :)

    Hi, Stargazer!

    Oooh, isn’t it tough when ideas just don’t wait their turn? If I get an idea when I’m working on another project, I write down the idea and put it in a folder. Then, I won’t forget it and I can go back to it later after I’ve finished my current project. I try to make a rule that I can work on a couple of books at once, but I have to finish one before I start another. That seems to keep me on track and then I’m not writing five books at once.

  8. what is it like being an auther?

  9. Hey, Lauren! Thanks so much! Nice to “meet” you too! :)

  10. Hey, Peanut!

    Well, since my book just came out last week it has been a crazy whirlwind of an experience! It took just over two years from the time I wrote TAKE THE REINS to the time it got on store shelves. For a long time, it had been just a project that only my agent, and editors had read, so it was super scary to have it “out there” for other people to read. Every morning, I open my email and kind of squint–I’m waiting for the “this is the worst book ever!!” emails. :)

    Day to day, I spend a lot of hours on the computer. Since I’m writing a series, I might be writing book four while doing final edits on book three. When I’m writing a book, I usually spend 8-9 hours a day drafting, editing, outlining and working on the book. I’m pretty obsessed with writing that first draft and I often work seven days a week until it’s done. Then, I feel better that I at least have a draft to edit and I get out of Crazy Writer Mode. :)

    Right now, since my first book just came out, I get to do fun press stuff that I won’t do all of the time. Last week, for example, I met a writer for a local paper and she interviewed me. Next week, I’m being interviewed for a magazine and then I have to go to my local bookstore to prepare for my first book signing.

    What you do as an author really depends on what stage of the process you’re in. By the end of next week, I’ll be finished with a lot of the press stuff, so I get to go back to my fave part–writing full time. :)

    It’s an awesome job, I’ve got to say, and I’m so grateful to be able to write. I’m even more excited that my series is about my fave thing–horses!

  11. Gosh, just reading your comments tells a bit of how well you write!
    I’m working on a book right now and often get writer’s block! I know what has to be said and done, but just can’t put it on paper! This is very maddening for me.I also have a problem explaining, say, landscapes,the weather,ect. the things you need for your readers to fallow what you mean. Any tips would be most helpful!!!

    Thanks for your time~Salina

  12. Howdy again Jessica! What are your favorite books besides the ones you write?
    I’m partial to historical fiction and horse stories.

  13. Hi, Salina! :)

    Aw, thanks so much! Writer’s block is the WORST. If I get stuck, I walk away from my computer and do anything but write. Usually, if I read or take a walk, I get ideas for how to continue my story. If I try to force ideas, they usually won’t come. So if you’re stuck, I’d say to walk away and do something else. When you least expect it, you’ll come up with a way to keep your plot moving.

    I used to have the worst descriptions of landscapes! Seriously. Mine were awful. :) Instead of trying to come up with landscapes and weather off the top of my head, I looked up photos online of what I was trying to describe. So, if I wanted to talk about a bright, cloudless sky during a riding lesson at Canterwood, I actually used Google to find a pic of a sunny sky and then I described what I saw in the pic and made it fit my story. It totally helped me to have a real visual.

    Try it and see if it helps when you’re doing descriptions.

    Hi, Wild Rose,

    My favorite authors (so many!) would have to be Kate Brian, Maureen Johnson, Sara Gruen (adult horse fiction) and Lauren Myracle. I adore the Thoroughbred series, still read the Saddle Club from time to time and love the Black Stallion books.

  14. I get some good ideas for stories and write them down, but the story ends up being way too short! How did you turn your ideas into a entire novel?

  15. Hi, Jessica! I would first like to say that you really and truly inspire me. To have books published that are about what you like to write and gaining independence as a writer at such a young age…It’s pretty amazing to me. I love love love to read and write, and lately I’ve been writing a lot more than usual.

    I was wondering if when you write, most every writing is similar. When I write, no matter how different the topics are, I always hear my voice. It’s written just like I talk, like I’m really narrating. I was wondering if this is just my style, or if I should get away from it for variety?

    Thanks so very much for your time,

  16. Hi, Allison,

    If the story is too short, then I’d suggest outlining. Even if you’re already wrote it, you can still go back and outline.

    For example, I write a short 5-6 page outline (single spaced) before I write a new Canterwood Crest book. Then, after I do the short outline, I do a chapter by chapter outline. These outlines can be 30-35 pages (also single spaced) and I use it as my blueprint for the novel. For me, that outline is the hardest part about writing a book. That’s when I figure out if my ideas work (or not) and decide how to handle plot twists.

    Don’t make anything easy for your character.Your novel might be missing conflict if it’s too short. Super happy stories where everything is easy for your character can be boring books. Have lots of conflict and don’t make the resolutions easy. Keep challenging your characters!

    If you write a draft of a novel and it’s too short, print it if you can and put sticky notes in the places where you could add a little more. Is there enough insight into your character? Do we have enough back story? Do you give enough description? Check those things and see if it pumps up your word count. :)

  17. OMG I GOT THI SBOOK AT MY BOOKFAIR! i love this book sooooo much!!! i cant wait for the next one!!!!

  18. Hi Jess! What is your favorite kind of horse? And how can you relate to Sasha,your main character? Can’t wait to start TTR! (:

  19. Hi, Julia,

    Wow, you’re so sweet! Thanks so much. :)

    I think having your own voice is so important! It makes your work unique and only you have your voice. No matter what I write (just like you’re experiencing) my voice slips in somewhere. It’s not always present, but hints of it are there.

    But I also don’t want my characters, like Sasha and her friends, to talk in my voice all of time because that would be inauthentic to who they are. Does that make sense? My characters come with their own set of voices and they reveal themselves through their thoughts, actions and dialogue. So while I influence them somewhat, I don’t want them all to sound like me or they’d be the same.

    While it’s wonderful that you have a distinct voice, I’d say variety couldn’t hurt. :) Let your characters speak to you in their voices and it’ll come through on the page.

    TBgirly! Thank you! :) That’s so, so cool that you got it at your school book fair. I can’t wait
    for the next book to come out either, LOL. But March isn’t too far away!

    Hey, Claire!

    I absolutely love Thoroughbreds. Love them. But I also adore Arabians and quarter horses. Almost every breed. ;)

    I relate to Sasha a lot! We were both dorks with boys when I was her age, we looove lip gloss, want to be the best we can at what we’re doing and love our friends. But I had zero fashion sense when I was twelve. Sasha’s clothes are waaay better than mine. :)

  20. Hey Jessica! I saw you’re website and I can’t wait to read you new book! It sounds great! I LOVE to write horse stories and I’m working on one now, and someday I hope I could get one published. So my question is, how did you get CC started? I always plan out my story in detail, but then I’ll have no clue how to start it and make it interesting.

  21. Hey Jessica! Do you have any pets? What are your fave animals besides horses? gtg!
    Wild Rose

  22. Jessica,

    I am so glad you are here! Funny thing, I got my Young Rider magazine the 6th and an interview with you was in it!

    I was wondering,

    How did you get an agent for your book?

    How do you stay motivated when you write? I mean, like if you got bored, how do you get the enthusiasm back for your story?

    And How do you decide which story ideas to pursue and which to forget about?

  23. Hi Jessica! I am an aspiring author myself, and I have to find your books! Have to, have to! I blog on GHC, and if I read your book, I might do a review on it. I think it would be awesome! How do you figure out what to write about? I used to just write about whatever, but now I try to write on what I know, which, unfortunately isn’t much. Just God, horses, dogs, and girls. I hope to find your book in my library which is where I get most of my books. Go Horse Girls!

  24. Hi, Lexi!

    I’m so glad you like the Canterwood Website. :)

    That’s so cool that you write horse stories too. My fave, obviously. :)

    When I started TAKE THE REINS, I had no idea where the story was going to go. I had no outline–only a few bits of the story that I’d written on index cards. I ended up tossing them as I wrote. I typed and typed until I thought the story was done, then I realized the word count was a little short (I think about 2000-3000 words) and that the plot was a jumbled mess. Time for the first rewrite! I used Word’s highlighter to highlight parts I liked in green, thingsI didn’t like in yellow and paragraphs that needed to be deleted in red. I worked on the yellow parts and deleted the red ones.

    That gave me a draft that was long enough and one I could print and work on.

    ALWAYS start your story with action! Don’t begin on a normal, everyday moment for your character. Start with something different for him/her and draw us into that. Grab the reader with action from the first page.

    For example, in TAKE THE REINS, the first page is about Sasha arriving at Canterwood Crest–the intimidating and fancy boarding school. It’s different for Sasha and it’s something she’d never experienced.

    To make it interesting–I use my “would I want to watch this as a movie?” test. Go through each chapter of your book and ask yourself, “Is this a scene I’d love to see on the big screen or would I fall asleep?” If you’d love it in a movie, then it’s probably pretty interesting. If you think you’d snore through it, consider a rewrite.

    A book I really used a lot–The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing for Young Adults–really helped me when I was getting started. You might want to check out that or another book that’ll give you tons of tips on novel writing.

    Hi, Wild Rose!

    I used to have a cat, but she died in 2007. She was 15, though, and she’d had an awesome life! I’ve just started to want a kitten again, so I’m going to adopt one from the Humane Society really soon!

    When I was in high school, I did a ton of volunteer work with my local Humane Society and I got to have sooo much fun with the shelter’s cats and kittens. So cats are definitely my other fave animal. I also think tree frogs are cute, lizards (like the ones hanging out on my porch right now) are cool and joeys are beyond adorable.

    Hi, Pony Princess!

    That’s so cool that you got the Young Rider issue! I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ve got to track down a copy. Or ten. :)

    The way I got my agent is a really crazy story. In November 2006, I wrote TAKE THE REINS. I’d just started a blog (All of those old blog entries are still up, btw. Kind of embarrassing, but I do look back at them from time to time.) and I blogged in December about how I’d written a horse book and was looking for an agent. A few days later, an agent emailed me. I was so sure it was a scam. I mean, really, do agents email writers? Before I sent my book to her, I checked into the agency and asked a few published friends if they’d heard of the agency. They said it was a great place and told me to send my manuscript.

    The agent (I call her Agent A) read my manuscript in January 2007 and signed me five days before I turned 20. Agent A’s super awesome and I’m so lucky to have her represent me.

    If I get bored when I’m writing, then it usually means it’s time for a break. But if I come back to the book and I’m still bored with a scene, I often take that to mean the scene is boring. I try to figure out what would make it exciting for me to write and go with that.

    Deciding which ideas to pursue is tough! I save every idea and try to decide what would best fit in each book to make the series entertaining and fun. I’m just starting to put together ideas for the fifth Canterwood Crest book. When I have ideas that I think would fit book 5, I’ll run through them with my editor. We look at all of the ideas and talk about
    ideas that could be cut, moved to another book, added to or kept. It’s sooo nice to have someone else to discuss ideas with.

    If you can find a writing friend to share your ideas with, it might be helpful. He or she could point out the strengths and weaknesses in your ideas and might be able to help you decide which ones to write now and what ideas to shelve until later.

    P.S. I’m having so much fun, guys! Thanks for asking such awesome questions! :)

  25. Hi, Mustang23!

    Wow, it would be so cool if you liked it enough to review it for GHC. I’d be honored. :)

    Deciding what to write about has always been a struggle for me. When I first started writing for magazines at 14, I wrote what I thought editors would buy.

    Big. Mistake.

    Write what YOU are passionate about–whatever that is. It’ll show through in your work. Trust me.

    I used to be a serious equestrian. I started riding when I was five and I always wanted a career as a rider. But I developed scoliosis when I was nine or ten and my spine started to twist into an S-shape and it pressed on my heart and lungs. I had to wear a hard plastic back brace for 24 hours a day, but even that didn’t help my back.

    I had a spinal fusion (a scary surgery where doctors put two rods and a handful of screws in my back–ouch!) and couldn’t ride after that. I was only 13 and my riding career was over. I was angry and devastated.

    So that’s when I started writing for magazines. I needed something to do and I promised myself that no matter what, I’d *never* write about horses again. Ever. It was just too painful and I couldn’t stand thinking about them. For six years, I wrote about everything BUT horses. Then I got the idea for Canterwood and I couldn’t let it go. I got to ride through my characters and I found my love for horses again. I’m never leaving Horse World now that I’m back! :)

    I’d say that even though you think you don’t know much, your unique perspective on the world is something that no one else has. Write what makes you happy and go for it!

    Yay, Horse Girls!

  26. HI Jessica! I was wondering if you have any horses?

  27. Hi, Kjell’s Girl,

    I used to have horses, but don’t now. My horses were Saddlebred/Tennessee Walker mixes. :)

  28. Hi again,
    I think you were really brave about going back into the horse world after never being able to ride again. I would be sooo scared about falling back into my passion and never being able to fulfill my desire.
    I’m trying to think of an idea for a new book and I think that you would be the ideal person to base my “mane” character on. Do you mind if I base her on you?
    If it becomes a bestseller, I’ll be sure to send you a free copy! :P

  29. Hi Jessica! I am sorry I’m late (aaahh!). I’ve been very busy these past few days. Anyways, I am very glad you’re here. A few questions:

    What is it like to already be writing a series of books at your age?
    Do you get really busy?
    And.. How did you come up with the name Canterwood Crest?

    Thank you sooo much! I can’t wait to hear back from you.


  30. DianaLUV,

    It was super scary to go back to horses. I was so worried that I’d miss them all over again. But writing truly has helped fill the void for me and it reminded me of something–horses just aren’t for riding. Right? I can still groom and love them. :) It helps to think of it that way.

    Oh my gosh, I’m sooo not character worthy, but feel free! That’s so sweet. And you better send me a copy WHEN it becomes a bestseller. :)

  31. Hey, Mustangmane!

    Glad you’re here! :)

    I got the book deal a month after I graduated college, so I think I was still very much in the school mindset where I was used to putting in long hours and doing lots of reading and writing. I think it probably helped going straight from school into being a fulltime writer. It’s daunting sometimes to be a young writer in this biz. When I first got the book deal, I had a few not-so-nice comments that I was too young and hadn’t worked hard enough for my book deal. I never responded to those criticisms because *I* knew the truth and that was all that mattered. But working in publishing as a young person definitely makes you grow up fast. There’s a lot to learn, but 99 percent of the people I’ve met are wonderful and want to see their fellow writers succeed.

    I absolutely get really busy. At the craziest part of the process when I’m trying to do promotion, work on presentations for an upcoming conference, write a new book, meet newspaper and magazine reporters and a million other things, I put in 10 hours a day for seven days a week. For sure. There’s no way I could/would do it unless I loved it so much.

    I didn’t come up with Canterwood Crest, actually. :) My former editor and my now editor brainstormed for a series title and after many, many hours researching horse terms and drinking a zillion Diet Cokes, they came up with Canterwood Crest. They asked if I liked it and I loved CC so much. I’m super lucky that they came up with an awesome series title. They rock!

  32. Wow, Jessica! You truly, truly are wonderful. I myself am brainstorming more questions, so I’ll be fired up while you’re visiting. It’s a pleasure to have you here! Thank you very very much for answering my questions.


    P.S. Wow. I never would be able to write that long! I do love writing, but I am not sure I would do it for 8 hours or more a day. The people that gave you rude comments are most likely regretting it. Look at you now!

  33. Welcome Jessica! Thank you so much for coming to GHC and giving me the opportunity to meet someone so amazing such as yourself. You’ve helped me boost up an interest in writing again after my horrible writer’s block.

    Now that I’ve learnt more about Canterwood Crest, I can’t wait to get my hands on Take the Reins, and I am a little curious as to how much work you put into it? Since there seems to be so many aspects from starting a draft to publishing a book, is writing a novel so much more difficult than people actually credit it for? Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re not sore from typing so much.

  34. Wow, Jessica! You are amazing! I completely look up to you as a writer and horse lover. It’s amazing that you didn’t let your accident stop you! God has really gifted you! I love to write and am absoballylutely horse crazy (a good mix) and hope to do half as well as you some day! And blaze’n’cowgirl, I am SO glad you saw my blog! Thanks SO much!!!!!!

  35. Mustangmane,

    Thanks so much! Keep the questions coming. :)


    Thanks for stopping by to chat. I’m glad you found your interest in writing again.

    Writing a book is definitely a longer process than many people think. I fast-drafted TAKE THE REINS in November 2006 while I was a full-time college student. I wrote at least 7-8 hours a day for seven days a week for a month to get the draft down. Once I signed with my agent, it took five months of revision before Agent A felt the novel was ready for submission. Then, once she sold the novel, I revised it for many months after that. There are many hours of coming up with ideas and outlining too. So it’s definitely not a process where you write a perfect novel on the first draft and then it’s published as is. There are many revisions along the way, but all of those revisions only serve to make your novel stronger. :)

    Those hours of work, though, sooo pay off when you see your novel on store shelves. That’s the best feeling ever!

  36. Hey Jessica! Um I was wondering.. what happened when you signed up to write a novel in 30 days as part of the National Novel Writing Month? I was just wondering. =)

    When you write do you have a certain place that you write or a time when you fell more creative?

    Later ~ Blaze’ncowgirl

  37. Thanks, Angelica! It’s so fun to meet other horse-crazy people! :)


    When I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I was encouraged by the thousands of other people who were doing the same crazy thing–writing a book in 30 days. I love NaNo because the goal isn’t to have a *perfect* book in a month, but to have a draft that can be edited later. I wrote the first draft of TAKE THE REINS for 2006’s NaNo. One of my fave parts of NaNo is hanging out on the writer forums and reading about what the NaNoers have done through the year with their novels or what they’re going to write about this year. It’s really fun! Plus, in certain cities, they have “write ins” at local libraries or coffee shops were you can meet up with other NaNoers.

    I do most of my work either on the couch (LOL) or at a table. I’m too sleepy in the morning to write well, so I usually do my best work after 11am.

  38. Jessica: I’m sorry about your cat. But it’s cool that you’re gonna get another one. What is your all-time fave movie. I love the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian by Disney and Walden Media.

  39. I am still sooo amazed that you went to college at such a young age! Were you at all nervous?Gosh, I don’t think I could handle all the classes and tests! Ack! Four years are coming much to quickly for me!
    By the way did you enjoy homeschooling better than going to public? My sister did since mum was able to work with her individually.
    Thanks so much for your time!

  40. Hey again Jessica!
    I was wondering, when did you start riding? English or western?

  41. Hi Jessica!I just thought you might like to know- the cover of your book is really awesome! I was wondering, how did you go about getting published? I love writing- do you have any publishing tips? Oh… and guess what? I had scoliosis too! I was only recently cleared, and I’m so glad now that I am.

  42. Hello again, Jessica! Well, I got back from school and finished homework. (Phew!) Anyways, one question I thought of:

    I love to write stories, but somehow when I’m done, I don’t feel that it’s, well, great. Like sometimes it gets to “kiddish” if you know what I mean. I want it to be a “mature” story. One that is well-written, and not like it was written in a couple of hours. Pretty much, I need advice on perfection, getting ideas, and characters. Could you help?

    Thank you so much! I am glad you’re here at GHC.

  43. Hey Jessica! I have a question-If your scoliosis case was less severe, would you have still been able to ride? I ask this because there is some curve or something in my shoulder that my doctor noticed at a checkup. It’s nothing serious, but we have to watch it to make sure its not turning into scoliosis.

  44. Thanks, Wild Rose. I’m glad that I’m ready to get another cat now. :)

    My fave movies are Mean Girls, Pirates of the Caribbean, Liar Liar and The Horse Whisperer. I love those! My all time fave, though, would have to be Mean Girls. I love it! I know all of the lines, too. :)

    Salina, I was terrified when I started college so early. To help, I took my first few classes online so I wasn’t so intimidated by the older students. That helped me get used to the pace of college classes before I started going to campus. It *was* a lot to handle, but I was super focused and I did work really hard. I,um, did fail college math for a while (math was always my toughest subject!) and ended up with a C in the class, but I was proud that I made it!

    I did love homeschooling. I liked public school, too, but both were so different. Homeschooling was my fave, though.

    Hey, LexiLover! I started riding when I was seven or eight. I rode a couple of times before that, but it wasn’t serious. I started with English until my friend, Amy, taught me how to ride Western. It’s kind of funny–English was my thing, but I rode Western in one class at my first horse show for the experience. And I won! Total shock. I, erm, didn’t even place in the English class. LOL.

    Hi, Rachel Danielle,

    The photographer and art team will be glad to hear of your cover love. I love the covers, too. :)

    My steps to getting published:

    * Writing a book
    * Editing the book (a lot!)
    * Getting an agent
    * Editing more
    * Agent sending out book to publishers
    * Agent selling book to publishers (yay!)

    To get published, definitely get a Writer’s Market. It’ll teach you how to write queries, where to send the queries and much, much more. It’s my fave writing tool.

    That’s great that your scoliosis is gone! Woo hoo!

    Mustangmane, what do you like to read? Can you pinpoint authors who write the more mature stories that you want to write? Do that first. Then study how they write. Take notes on their characters, plots and how they move the story forward. Try to take these notes and apply them to your own story.

    It will *never* be perfect–none are! So don’t strive for that. Instead, aim for your best story and that will be enough.

    To develop characters, I love doing character worksheets. You’ll find this in a book I mentioned above–The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing for Young Adults. You’ll fill in the work sheet with dozens of answers about your character. Like, birthplace, past relationships, eye color, likes/dislikes, fears, goals, etc. All of these things will help round out your character and will give him/her depth. You might even find the worksheet free online. I do one for every character and even info that doesn’t make it into the book is helpful because it gives YOU more insight into your character.

    Hey, Stargazer!

    If I hadn’t needed a spinal fusion, I probably would be able to ride. Now, with all of the “hardware” that I have in my back, it’s just too dangerous. If I fell off, I could be paralyzed if the rod in my spine snapped. So, I could have ridden with a less severe case, I’m sure. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your future check ups. But do know that veeeerrry few cases ever need surgery.

    Yay for Monday being over, horse girls! Whew!

  45. Oh no! I can’t believe that you’re going on Friday! Promise that you’ll keep in touch with me! Please???
    And “when” my book is a bestseller, I’ll be sure to dedicate it to you for all the inspiration that you’ve given me. ☺

  46. Hey, Jessica, I realize this has very little with horses, but, how long is your hair? I was looking at the picture, and I was like, Wow, her hair is LONG! My hair is twenty inches and growing! Do you ever scrap a story because you don’t think it’s “right”, but later come back like, Hmm, I wonder what I could do to make it seem better? I do that sometimes. Are you at your house, or LeadMare’s? Just wondering! Go, Horse Girls!

  47. Hi Jessica! What’s your fave food and do you like archery and target shooting? I LOVE archery!!!

  48. It’s so sad that you’ll be “leaving” on Friday. I hope you come back and visit GHC from time to time.

    I’ve been dying to get my hands on your book, but I haven’t had time. So frustrating. The curiosity is KILLING me!

    Also, what techniques do you use when outlining and organizing your books? I’ve tried some of the stuff they teach at school, but nothing really clicks with me, and I end up doing nothing to organize it, which is probably not helping me at all.

  49. Jessica, do you listen a certain type of music when you write? I do, and it helps me mellow and just write.

  50. I’ll soo keep in touch, DianaLuv! :) Of course! And FYI, I blog almost every day at So if you guys ever want to see what I’m up to, you can always check there.

    And I’ll definitely keep dropping in to see what you guys are doing.

    Mustang23, my hair did used to be long, but I cut it a few weeks ago! It’s just above my collarbone now and I absolutely love the length. I love that it takes half the time to wash, dry and straighten.

    I’ve definitely thrown out stories before, forgotten about them and then looked at the idea later and thought, “Oh, well. This might not be so bad.” It’s kind of fun to take a second look at something that I’d previously thought was a bad idea, LOL.

    And I’m at my house.

    Hey, Wild Rose,

    Fave food would have to be pizza. :) Love it! What’s yours?

    I’ve never tried archery or target shooting. They sound fun though! I’ll have to try them someday if I get the chance.

    Stargazer, I’ll will so be visiting when I can. I’d miss it now. I can’t wait for you to read my book. You’ll have to email me after you read it.

    For outlining, I first do a 5-7 page general outline that highlights all of the major plot points. Then, after I like that outline, I break those points down into more details and do a 20-30 page chapter by chapter outline for the book. That helps make the writing process easier for me. Especially since I’m on a deadline, I’d feel a little worried if I didn’t have a clear direction of where I wanted to go.

  51. Hey Jessica: I love French fries. I know that sounds incredibly unhealthy. But you can’t eat carrot sticks all the time. I love pizza, too! It’s somewhere in my top five list of fave foods.

  52. I love your site!!!!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!! MY YR SUBSCRIPTION RAN OUT AND I DIDN’T KNOW!!!!!! IT WAS MY FAVORITE!!!!!!!!! *sniffsob*
    I love writing. I LOVED your idea of outlining the book and rough-drafting each chapter – that’ll really help me with my books!
    I’m working on my series, the Silver Forest Chronicles, and my book, The Story of Rowan Ridgetop, not to mention my book, The Dragonheart.
    (I work better when I go back and forth between books :)

  53. Mustang23,

    I’m not a huge fan of listening to music when I write. For some reason, it usually distracts me. BUT I always have the TV on while I write. Not distracting at all–it’s weird. :)

  54. Hey Jessica! My hair used to be between my mid to lower back. I got it cut some time ago and it is now a few inches below my collar bone. =)

    Anyway…. do some of your ideas for your books come from things you have experienced in your life? I have tried outlining and it just never seems to work for me. I think I will have to just keep trying and come up with a way to outline that works for me. =)

    Do you have any tips.. like things that you have found to help you come up with plots and such? Sorry about all the questions!! =)


  55. Hey! Im getting the 1st book on monday and i cant wait!
    When you rode what did you like best? For example, hunters, jumper, dressage! Well thanks and good luck on your future books!!

  56. Hey Jessica when you started out writing towards magazines did you write stories or articles or poems or what? And where did you get your starting ideas becuase Ican NEVER get a new idea and I really really really need help!

  57. Wild Rose–oooh, French fries. Mmmm. :)

    Blaze’ncowgirl–I definitely take some of my real experiences and put them into the book. Sometimes, it’s a bunch of little things. For example, in Canterwood, Sasha loves movies, TV and lip gloss. So do I! And Sasha feels super insecure about her riding abilities compared to her friends. I felt that way, too, when I rode horses.

    So it’s taking a bunch of little things from your own life, if you want, to help make your fictional plot. Also, if outlining doesn’t work for you–don’t do it! Try to write a book on the fly and see what happens. Many, many writers do this because they think it’s boring to write a book from an outline because they don’t like knowing what’s going to happen from beginning to end.

    And to really get plot ideas–the best tip I have is to experience things. Try new things in real life whenever you can and the experiences will surely help when you try to plot.

    Madision, ooh! I so hope you like it! :) When I rode, I adored show jumping. Loved. It. Cross-country was my other fave. My friends and I always used to explore and look for new trails and jumps. So much fun!

    What about everyone else? What do you like best?

    Horsadare, when I started writing for magazines, I wrote articles and essays. I liked writing things about my life and it seemed like a good way for me to get started. I always heard “write what you know” (which I now totally disagree with! :)), so I thought, “Well, I know about myself so that’s what I’ll write.” After I got a few of those published, I moved into bigger articles. I published a few poems, too, which helped me break into a few different magazines.

    Starting ideas come from everywhere! If you absolutely can’t come up with an idea, then take a break. Stop thinking about it and don’t force yourself. The second you stop thinking, “Argh! I can’t come up with one idea!!” you’ll get one. My ideas always come when I’m not concentrating on coming up with one. I read a lot, too, for inspiration. Or, even try watching TV or movies for ideas. You might see a movie character that sparks your interest for a story.

    Tomorrow is the LAST day, girls! *sniff* :)

  58. Howdy Jessica! Awwwwwwwwwww you’re leaving tommorow. Remember to come and visit us now and then!

  59. I can’t believe you’ll be gone!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m really going to miss this. I hope you come again! I can’t wait until I can buy the Canterwood Crest books!!!!!!!!

  60. I’ll so be visiting whenever I can, Wild Rose. :^)

    Angelica, I can’t wait for you to read them! Yay!

  61. Hey Jessica- It’s Meghan!!! Thanks for telling me about this!!! Could u give me some tips about getting exciting ideas for stories??? Here is a cool project I think you would like!!! Others are welcome to do it too!!! Come up with different words like Lover, Baker, Dreamer, RIDER, WRITER, Artist, then write of after it. Then write I AM JESSICA. on the top. Under the words, Writer of, or whatever, do what you are for them. It will look like this when you’re finished:


    Lover of, horses, writing, and lip gloss.

    Rider of, horses, and bikes.

    Writer of, Canterwood Crest, and many other stories, I’m sure!!!


    Thanks!!! PS, I luv this blog!!!

  62. Bye, Jess. Will you come on sometimes and talk to us??? Please do, it iz so nice to have you answer our horsey and writing-related ?

  63. Jessica, OMG, you’re leaving us! I will try to get your books, but they’re new, so my library takes a little time to get new books. But I am definitely going to keep writing, and reading, and using your advice. I find it easier for me to just write, like without an outline, or a draft. (Though, come to think about it, my stories are drafts.) But I will definitely keep writing, armed with new ideas, and advice from one of the up-and-coming new authors in today’s horse world. That sounded good, didn’t it? LOL. BTW, I have one last question: You say you base some aspects of the main character on you, so do you base the horses on horses you used to know? And have you ever had someone tell you a story, and you twist it in your mind, and you think, “That would be a great story!”? I do that with my friends. It helps me with my story “excercises”. LOL! Jessica, it was great having you answer all these questions, and I really learned a lot. You are now my writing role model!

  64. I’ll sooo mail you when my book is finished and when I read yours!;)
    And most of my stuff in my story comes from real life. The good points and the bad points. Every time something big (or small. It depends…) happens to me, I think “will this associate with my characters?” and if it does, I include it!
    I’m not so sure if this is the right way to go about writing stories, so could you tell me if it is? I’ll miss you sooo much when you go! ☻

  65. Thanks for replying, Jessica! It’s been a pleasure having you here, and we hope you’ll come visit and check out what’s going on often.

    Have a great weekend, and I definitely will read your books soon.


  66. Jumper3, that’s such a fun exercise!! So cool. :o) And yep, I will totally be back! I want to keep in touch and see what you guys are up to.

    Mustang23, I sooo base Canterwood horses on real life ones that I’ve loved. Even ones that I’ve struggled with, LOL. Charm, Sasha’s horse, is based on Blue, an Arabian gelding that I rode a lot. Blue was so sweet and funny, too. I love horses with personalities and Blue definitely had that. I put a lot of Blue into Charm.

    And yeah! I totally hear stories and think, “Oooh! Now, if I twisted it this way…” It’s fun.

    And DianaLuv, I think that’s a great way to approach writing. You’re taking real things that happened and are turning them into ideas for your book. Go for it! There’s never a “wrong” way to write stories.

    And FYI, I’m going to close out tomorrow night with a special giveaway! :) It just *might* be a signed book for a random GHC girl who left a comment during visit this week…you know, just in case any of you are interested. ;)

  67. Thanks Jessica! Yeah actually when I write I usually just get inspiration and then I write. I wrote a short story a while ago and I just got my idea sat down and wrote it from beginning to end. It is like that with my poems too. Sometimes things that I have experienced come up in my writing. =)

    It seems like you just got here!! Thanks for coming and talking with us! I am going to try to read your books but it might be awhile because my library doesn’t get new books right away. =( I will have to request it. =) I can’t wait to read them! Good luck on/with everything!

    Thanks for answering my questions! It has been so nice to “meet” you. =) I hope you come back to GHC sometimes!If your not to busy that is! ;) See ya later!

  68. Thank you for your time Jessica! But there comes a time when we must say “Happy Trails”. Best Wishes!
    Your Friend,
    Wild Rose

  69. What giveaway??! Here is my exercise. :)


    Euphoria, Zeal, Passion, Creativity.

    Christ, Horses, Humans

    Nature, water, purity.

    A shining light, my soul will live forever in glorious blissful eternity –


    Unicorns, shimmering leaves of trees dappling sunlight in the forest.

    Other worlds. In my imagination are precious…more wonderful than anything….

    I am Angelica

    ….Okay, so it’s more of a poem…but it was fun!!!! Great idea.

  70. Oh man! Today is the last day…

    Jessica, thanks so much for coming here to answer our questions. You have helped me in my writing rut. I was very bored with my book I’m working on, and now I feel inspired!
    Thanks som much for your tips!

  71. Good bye!

  72. ohmygosh!! she actually replyed to me!! Thank you Jessica Burkhart soo much!! you are the best author EVER!!

    haha! Thats really cool that you did show jumping!! I want to do hunters really bad!! And yep only 4 more daysss yeppy! haha i actually asked for it for valentines day soo.. i might be getting tomorrow! Im super excited.

  73. Jessica,

    Thanks sooo much for coming! its was awesome to talk to you! I’m feeling way more up and I think I’m slowly moving out of my writer’s block! Thanks! I hape you visit again! (Please do!!!) Man…I’m gunna like really miss you! Its cool to actually talk to a real writer and if I ever get any book published, it’ll be thanks to you!

    Please visit again!

  74. I am so frustrated. I can’t get my hands on your book! It seems like it is avoiding me! I’m about to die of curiosity!

    Jessica, thank you so much for coming to GHC! I really appreciate your time.

  75. Once again, thanks for coming! I hope you will visit often. You rock! I learned that I can achieve any goal of mine, at any age. And no matter what other people think, I can- and will always do my best without worrying about what others think.


  76. Oooh giveaway?! Cool!
    Anyway, thanks so much for coming, Jessica! It was great to have you here! :)

  77. *Sigh* It was wonderful having you Jessica! Even if I didn’t post many comments, I read every one! And from it learned loads of how I can change and fix my story(not to mention get over my writer’s block!)
    Thank you soooo much! Hope to *see* you around!

  78. Thank you so much! It was so cool that you actually came to GHC. I am so sorry that you can not ride any more! you are like my idol, I want to be just like you( but I am going to be a large animal vet too). Good bye, come back soon!

  79. Okay, girls!

    This is my last post. What a week! I had the BEST time and had sooo much fun! You’re all so lovely and talented. I can’t wait to see what you do in the writing and horse world. I promise to stop by whenever I have time. In fact, you’ll probably get sick of me. ;)

    I hope you guys check in to see what’s going on with me and with Canterwood from time to time.

    Remember, you can find me:

    And I blog all of the time at

    I hope you ALL are encouraged to keep going after your dreams–no matter how big they seem. Keep riding, reading, writing, learning and having fun! Share your horse stories with others and get ’em hooked on horses. :)

    And, finally, the giveaway! I put numbers 1-78 into a random number generator. It did some Internet magic and the lucky winner of a signed copy of Take the Reins is…mustang23!!

    Mustang23, please get your parents’ permission first and then email me an address so I can send you a signed book. You can email me at jessica [at] jessicaburkhart [dot] com. Congratulations! :)

    Thank you again, everyone! You all rock!