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‘Personal’ Category

  1. A Crazy True Story About My Basque Family

    October 20, 2014 by Kiersi

    cowboy

    So, I’ve been in Spain the last week. Part of our trip here was to visit my father’s Basque relatives and, specifically, the house where my ancestors lived in the Basque Country (in the northern part of Spain) before migrating to the United States.

    I’ve always wondered what brought them to the US all that time ago—but the truth was way more exciting than I thought it would be.

    My great great grandfather’s brother was the first to immigrate to the US. But once he got there, he was murdered by a “blue-eyed Irishman.”

    The news traveled back to my great great grandfather, Benito Arrizabalaga, who still lived in the Basque Country. After hearing it, he vowed to avenge his brother.

    Benito stowed away on a ship crossing the Atlantic to the US, but somewhere along the way, he was discovered. The Captain gave him two choices: work as a cabin boy to pay for his passage, or get thrown overboard.

    He obviously chose the first option.

    Once in the US, though, Benito never did find that blue-eyed Irishman who killed his brother. Though he did get into some other trouble, I was not surprised to hear, that included accidentally driving a wagon and a team of horses off a cliff.

    I see where I get it from, though I have yet to lose my whole wagon yet.


  2. 10 Truths About the Time I Almost Gave Up

    October 12, 2014 by Kiersi

    I still can’t believe I got a book deal. (Check out this post for more information.) I don’t mean that metaphorically. I honestly sometimes sit here and don’t actually believe that it happened. That it is happening.

    One thing I want to say to all the writers out there trying to get published, trying to get an agent, trying to finish a novel:

    Don’t. Give. Up.

    I mean it. And believe me—I know what it feels like to hear that from an author who’s getting published. “Yeah, well, that’s all well and good and easy for you to say. You have a book deal.”

    But there’s a reason I sometimes still don’t believe it’s true:

    Truth #1: I almost gave up.

    Truth #2: SECOND CHANCE RANCH is, actually, my second book deal. (Though SHY GIRL AND SHY GUY will still be my first published book.) (more…)


  3. A Love Letter to Tea

    October 7, 2014 by Kiersi

    "For the Vintage Tea Room Teaparty Tomorrow" by Caroline - flickr

    Photo by Caroline – flickr

    Dear Tea:

    You are my substance of choice. I’ve decided it’s time to finally come out and tell you the sincere and absolute truth.

    People have so many different vices. For some of us, the rush of constant accomplishment that accompanies the video game is our drug of choice. For others, it’s the complex character (berries, oak, nuts, leather?) of an elderly red wine, or the roast of a cup of hot, black coffee. For some, release is found in warping the mundanity of the world into something a little more fanciful.

    But you, tea.

    You.

    You are the one I have chosen above all others. If you had a finger, I would put a tarnished, antique, second-hand ring on it, purchased from a kindly old man in suspenders. (more…)


  4. We’ve Got A New Horse Book Series!

    October 3, 2014 by Kiersi

    Kiersi Burkhart riding her horse at 12

    Me at 12 years old, running the poles event at a gymkhana show with my Appaloosa pony, Frosty

    All right, everyone. Do me a favor and, before we go any further, run and get your cowboy hats on. Then shrug on your cowboy boots. And prepare a good old holler: WHOOPAH!

    First: This whole thing came about because of a story I told on Twitter about a horse I loved as a girl. When my friend Amber Keyser heard I’d grown up a cowgirl, she approached me about a possible opportunity for a series of horse books, aimed at the middle-grade age range.

    Then we started dreaming. We dreamed and dreamed and had this really wild Vulcan-esque mind meld, where suddenly the perfect idea came to us.

    And so SECOND CHANCE RANCH was born—a place for troubled kids to find themselves with the help of a horse. The series is set on a cattle ranch in the mountains of my home state, Colorado, and based loosely on a cattle ranch owned by Amber’s relatives (also in Colorado). It draws on a lot of the things we loved about horse books as youngsters ourselves—the child helping the horse, and the horse helping the child; the magic of learning to ride for the first time; and the deep relationships we form with animals.

    Second: Here is the announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace!

    Publisher's Marketplace announcement SECOND CHANCE RANCH

    So, after giving birth to this crazy idea, we handed it over to Amber’s agent, Fiona Kenshole, at Transatlantic Literary Agency.

    And she loved it.

    She asked us to write some sample chapters right away for two of our proposed books in the series. Though we dreamed up this world together, we each took control of one story—my debut in the series will be SHY GIRL AND SHY GUY, and Amber’s PUSHOVER AND PRINCE.

    Third: Since then, I have signed with Fiona as my agent, and I couldn’t be happier! Fiona has done a fantastic job helping us hone our proposal for the series and negotiating our 4-book deal with Andrew Karre at Darby Creek, an imprint of Lerner Books.

    The books are scheduled to release twice a year beginning in Spring 2016. I’m so excited to be working with the folks over at Darby Creek and, of course, my great friend and truly talented co-author Amber!

    (Seriously, you guys don’t even know how awesome this woman is. I am pretty much the luckiest girl on the planet.)

    And that’s it for today, my friends. It’s time for me to go eat some celebratory sushi!


  5. Dealing with Online Harassment

    August 12, 2014 by Kiersi

    Photo by Carissa Rodgers

    Photo by Carissa Rodgers

    This subject has come up quite a bit recently, as a number of my friends on Twitter have become the target of online harassment for various reasons—for being activists, for being outspoken, for being themselves. It’s a very sad thing to watch someone’s resolve and passion get worn down by cyber-bullying, especially when the issues they’re speaking out about are so very important and salient.

    In case this ever happens to you, here are some steps for tackling online harassment and keeping yourself safe. If you guys like this or find it helpful, I’d love to do a follow-up piece on how to mentally handle online bullying and keep doing what you do, despite the haters. (Because seriously, screw the haters!)

    1. Screenshot and record all incidents that occur.

    The moment online harassment occurs, take screenshots and save them with the time it happened. Keep track of every interaction with the harasser and keep it as evidence, because you never know where a situation may lead. (more…)


  6. #YesAllWomen, Autonomy, & Adventure Time

    May 26, 2014 by Kiersi

    Fionna and Cake, Adventure Time

    It’s been interesting watching the #YesAllWomen hashtag unfold on Twitter. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I think Gina Denny summed it up best:

    Every time there is a heavily publicized act of violence against women just for being women, there is an inevitable backlash of “Hey, come on. Not all men…”

    “Not all men are jerks.”
    “Not all men treat women that way.”
    “Not all men are violent psychopaths.”

    And the resounding answer is always: DUH.

    We all know that NOT ALL MEN ARE ______________. We know. But the reason we need to talk about violence against women is because even though not all men are violent psychopaths, all women have to learn the difference between a violent psychopath and a regular guy.

    She’s so absolutely, terribly right. At the age of twelve, I had my first realization that a man I’d thought was just another person could actually be a threat to me. It was someone my family knew–someone we trusted. I’ll never forget that moment of clarity when he sidled up really close to me on a bench outside the Rec Center and started breathing down my neck. Some deep, dark instinct rose to the surface inside me and I thought, “This could be bad. This could get ugly. I need to go, now.”

    And I did. (more…)


  7. Scrivener Secrets: This Saturday, 4/19!

    April 16, 2014 by Kiersi

    Scrivener

    Hey all! I have a blog post coming for you soon (with pictures!) about my Costa Rica trip and other bookish things. But before I can get to that, I’m busy toiling away on something really cool for you: a talk this weekend for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Oregon chapter!

    The talk, “Scrivener Secrets,” is the final event in SCBWI Oregon’s “The Next Level” Professional Series. Here are the deets:

    Date/Time:

    Date: 04/19/2014

    2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

    Location

    TaborSpace, The Annex

    5441 SE Belmont St. – Portland, OR 97215

    More information (and SCBWI Oregon’s website) here.

    TNL-Logo

    The series was organized by my pal and partner in crime, Amber J Keyser, Kelly Garrett, Bonnie Goldberg, and myself, to better serve the needs of our community’s professional children’s book writers and illustrators. The series has featured some incredible talent: last month, Heidi Schulz gave a great talk on using Twitter, and before that, Agent Fiona Kenshole discussed planning for and shaping your career.

    Can I just say how incredibly complimented and lucky I feel to be presenting alongside names like these?

    I hope you’ll attend! The talk is totally free and open to the public. Here’s a little blurb about the subject itself–which will basically be a tutorial on getting started using Scrivener to plan and write your next project:

    Tired of storing ten different files for your outlines, drafts, revisions, and character sheets? With all the functionality available in Scrivener, it can be a little intimidating at first—but in this session with author Kiersi Burkhart, you’ll learn practical, simple tools for outlining your novel, organizing your writing materials, and revising with ease and efficiency. Get ready to harness a powerful new writing tool!

    Cool, huh? It’ll contain live demonstrations in Scrivener for Mac, and additional screenshots of Scrivener for PC for those of you using a PC at home. If you’ve ever thought about using Scrivener to organize your writing, now is a great opportunity to sit down and see what it can do–and how easy it is to use!

    After the talk, I’ll be posting a series of “how-to” guides on using Scrivener on my blog, so stay tuned!

    Hope to see you Saturday.


  8. Going It Alone

    March 29, 2014 by Kiersi

    As I’m scrambling to get all my work done and my bags packed for Costa Rica before Monday, I’m reminded of how different it was taking trips as a kid. Mom held onto your passport and ticket. Dad shuffled you through the security line, talked to gate employees when your flight got delayed or moved, and told you everything was fine when something did go wrong.

    Remember what it was like, not being responsible for your own itinerary or well-being? My major upsets as a child while traveling weren’t delayed flights or missed connections. They were things like that time I left my favorite polar bear stuffed animal on a plane and cried about it for two days; or that time our luggage got lost on the way to Italy, so we had to wear the same tourist t-shirt every day until the bags showed up. The worst thing that came of that? Smelling a little overripe.

    But even when things got really silly, really messed up, I still felt safe. I could trust the adults I was with to figure out whatever went awry. I could write a whole series of blog posts about why being an adult sucks. Being responsible for your own destiny is one of them–but it’s also one of my favorite things. (more…)


  9. The Big Book Giveaway Project

    October 29, 2013 by Kiersi

    bookshelf

    I had to move recently–and it’s not really until you move that you realize exactly how much stuff you have.

    After dragging almost a dozen hulking, heavy book boxes up my steep (and somewhat perilous) outdoor stairs, it crossed my mind that I didn’t really have a place to put them. I jammed book upon book into any open shelving unit I could find, into crevices and in thick stacks where the back row was essentially bricked up and invisible, leaving no real space for my actual belongings.

    But that was all right. Up until then, books were the one thing that no one would ever criticize me for hoarding. I mean, I’m a writer, after all. Books are my life’s work. I read a lot. I buy books a lot. I buy them so I can review them as soon as they come out, to support authors–but mostly, just to have. And that was okay, because they were books. (more…)