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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sticking to one's dreams

Jessica Burkhart is a good example both of and for our next generation of writers.  She’s also a great example of sticking to one’s writing dreams. Fifteen years ago, as an 8th grader, and while recuperating from a major surgical procedure, she decided to start writing to fill her hours and because she was convinced that she could produce articles that were at least as good as those she had been reading in magazines and journals brought to entertain her. 

At first she tried writing what she thought those magazines wanted.  That led to a couple years' worth of rejections.  So she turned to writing about what she knew – in her case a love of animals and her volunteer work with the Humane Society – a formula that more often than not leads to success.  It was a good choice, indeed.

By age 18, she had over 100 published articles in everything from Girls’ Life to The Writer.  At age 19, she signed up for the annual National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write a 50,000 word (or longer) novel in 30 days.  Again, she chose to write what she knew and loved – horseback riding.

Having started her own blog, she wrote about the experience of doing her first book, and as luck would have it (and luck does indeed often play a part in getting first books accepted) a literary agent who was perusing blogs spotted her post.  The woman liked what she read and signed up Jessica as a client.    Burkhart’s first book, Take The Reins, resulted in the birth of The Canterwood Crest series, written for Tweens.  

Jessica “Burkhart” Ashley

Burkhart, who turns 28 today and whose real last name is Ashley, now has had a dozen novels published in several genres and is still going strong.  She’s a testament to “stick-to-it-tiveness” and writing what you know … and taking writers’ moments and turning those dreams into reality.    Happy writing!

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