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  1. The Revision Mire

    October 2, 2014 by Kiersi

    Well, I’m deep in a second revision of a Very Exciting Middle-Grade Project (this is how I cleverly work around actually telling you the name of this project, aren’t I clever?) and let’s just say, editing a book is much less magical when it’s the second time you’ve edited said book in a matter of weeks.

    I was so charmed by this book when I began work on my second draft with a pile of excellent notes in hand from my talented critique partner, Amber KeyserWow! I thought. This sure needs a lot of work, but the bones are all here. Amazing. I can’t believe she actually liked it! Maybe it’s worth its salt? It will be when I finish all this hard work! I’m really inspired to get it all done!

    How sweet and naïve of you, Kiersi-from-a-month-ago. What a world you lived in. How I wish I could be your roommate in it.

    I mean, I did do a pretty good first revision (::blows on knuckles, rubs knuckles on collar::) if I do say so myself. It did accomplish what it needed to accomplish. But now there’s this next step, this third draft thing before the book can move on to its next life stage, and suddenly ugh I actually have to do work now? It’s not all fun and games and ponies and rainbows and cute little polkadot bowties forever?!

    How dare you, book. HOW DARE YOU.

    But! There’s a carrot at the end of the stick. If I get this done and send it in, I get to try my hand at a shiny new project. A potentially very exciting and lucrative and hilarious and edgy new project. Wow, what kind of series of adjectives was that? Do I get a prize?

    Have you ever worked on revisions in close succession? What do you do to get the magic back? Let me know in the comments!


  2. 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…)


  3. Maleficent: Lessons on Rewriting History

    June 24, 2014 by Kiersi

    Disney's Maleficent

    When I first saw ads for Disney’s Maleficent, my first thought was: Duh. Of course. Disney’s capitalizing on an existing property by retelling it from the villain’s point of view, with the necessary added bonus of lots of expensive special effects! 

    So, yeah, I was both super thrilled and totally underwhelmed by the idea of Maleficent. Because, see… I love bad guys.

    I mean, boy, do I LOVE bad guys. You have no idea. (more…)


  4. MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE, by Caela Carter

    June 9, 2014 by Kiersi

    Hey everyone! Today I want to introduce author Caela Carter, who not only had a brand new book come out on June 3, but also is on the blog with a new cover for the paperback release of Me, Him, Them, and It.

    I asked Caela (you heard me–I asked her) to appear on the blog with her book today because My Best Friend, Maybe is a book about friendship–and friendship gone askew! I love friendlove books, and so when I read the blurb about this one, I just had to get it on the blog. It also has a nifty cover, and is now available for purchase on Amazon!

    Read on for a blurb and a really exceptional excerpt from both books. Thanks so much, Caela!

    MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE

    My Best Friend Maybe, by Caela Carter

    Blurb:

    Colette has been bored and lonely ever since her best friend, Sadie, dumped her the summer before they stared high school. She tries to be perfect for everyone left in her life: her parents, her younger brothers, her church youth group, even her boyfriend, Mark. But Colette is restless. And she misses Sadie. (more…)


  5. #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…)


  6. My Writing Process Blog Tour

    May 13, 2014 by Kiersi

    Well, I was tagged in this blog challenge by not one, but two lovely ladies: Amber J. Keyser, my oft-partner-in-crime and a devilishly talented writer, and Lauren Spieller, a recently-agented author and spectacular friend. So, without further ado:

    1. What am I working on?

    For reasons, I am revisiting my middle grade novel, Gryphon. Gryphon is an epic fantasy starring a princess, an orphan, gryphons, and even a dragon. It’s that kind of book!

    I’m also in the trenches plotting a new novel, but I’m not ready to talk about it just yet. However, I can tell you it will be YA (I’m returning to my roots!) and it’ll have a retro 1920s sci-fi feel. The mood of the story really captured me and I’m so psyched to start telling it! (more…)


  7. COVER REVEAL: How We Fall

    May 12, 2014 by Kiersi

    You guys. YOU GUYS. I am so excited for this. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be one of the selected few to share the cover of this fantastic book with you.

    Kate Brauning has been a critique partner and friend for some time now, and when I found out the brief synopsis of her debut YA novel, How We Fall, I was like, “Yep, that’s our brave Kate for ya.” Really, she’s a fantastic writer, a kind friend and colleague, and a real classy lady.

    QUICK UPDATE: Kate’s also holding a contest on Facebook! Like her page and you could win one of two ARCs (advanced reader copies) of the book!

    So, here’s the low-down:

     

    HOW WE FALL by Kate Brauning

    YA contemporary

    Publication date: 11/3/2014

    Publisher: Merit Press, F+W Media Inc.

    ISBN-13: 9781440581793

    Hardcover, 304 pages

     

    About the Book:

    He kissed her on a dare. She told him to do it again. 

    Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting—a bit too much—with her cousin, Marcus. She pushes away the inevitable consequences of their friendship until her best friend, Ellie, disappears, and the police suspect foul play. Just when she needs him most, Marcus falls for the new girl in town—forcing Jackie to give a name to the secret summer hours she’s spent with him. As she watches the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance start to break, Jackie has to face that she’s fallen in love at an impossible time with an impossible boy. And she can’t let Marcus, or Ellie, go.

     

    The Reveal!

    (more…)


  8. What Adult Books Can Teach Kidlit Writers

    April 21, 2014 by Kiersi

    Since I started writing YA books back in 2010, the space in my life for non-children’s books continues to shrink. I want to stay on top of my industry, to support the great literature being turned out by my contemporaries, and to learn and grow as a children’s book writer.

    So for a few years, I didn’t touch a book written for audiences over 21. I kept my head inside YA, and then MG (when I started branching out as a writer), and NA.

    Until recently. My book club picked up Margaret Atwood’s dystopian MaddAddam series (containing Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam), and boy, was it a learning experience. I think there’s a lot missing from the YA dystopian body of work, despite how saturated it is; very few of our YA dystopians even come close to highlighting in the same stark, frank detail the problems our society will inevitably face in the future as Atwood does. Even now that we’re on the tail end of the dystopian fad in YA, I still fail to see a single YA novel that addresses corporate gluttony and food scarcity (the inevitable future of our over-populated, capitalist society) with the same honesty as the MaddAddam series. (more…)


  9. 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.


  10. 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…)