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The blog of author and freelance writer Jessica Burkhart.
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Hi! It's Kate writing for Jess. :) She asked me to do a quick blog post for Team Canterwood.
The models posing at the photoshoot
Alexis and Dayton!
Jess says to tell you all that she's super excited about HOME FOR CHRISTMAS which releases on November 12, 2013. Today, she's launching a contest!
* If the pre-orders and first week sales of HOME FOR CHRISTMAS are better than any other book in the Canterwood Crest series, Jess will gift you all with a holiday treat in early 2014 . . .
a Canterwood Crest e-novella picking up EXACTLY where UNFRIENDLY COMPETITION left off will be written and published online! It will be a Sasha featured, lip gloss packed, drama, and horses filled e-novella that will be able to download for $.99. Jess would set the price at zero, but Amazon doesn't allow authors to self-publish free books anymore.
So, if you want a special, never before read e-novella, start spreading the word about HOME FOR CHRISTMAS! :) The contest starts NOW and ends on November 19th! Let's GO, Team Canterwood!
Ways you can help sales (both e-book and paperback count):
Ask your local bookstores to order Home for Christmas
Post reviews of HFC on Websites such as Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Bookamillion.com and other bookseller sites.
Review HFC on your blog
Ask your school librarian to order HFC
Set up a Skype visit so Jess can virtually come to your classroom
Tweet about HFC on its release date
Update your Facebook status to let people know of HFC's release
Make a YouTube video for or about HFC
Instagram your copy of HFC
I wanted to let you all know that starting today, I will not be blogging or writing until November 1st.
It's doctor's orders that I give my arm/elbow eight weeks of rest while I try new medications and therapies for it. I've been in a pretty severe amount of pain for years and it's now increased to the point where I cannot type.
I am incredibly grateful to my editors and Simon & Schuster and Bloomsbury who were so very kind about my sudden break from work. They each are working on new schedules for me and have been great about giving me medical leave.
This also means I will not be writing HEATED or SANCTUARY until after November 1st.
I will respond to business emails, but not to Team Canterwood mail during this time. I will still read EVERY one of your emails, though.
I'll be back just in time to celebrate the November 12th release of HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!
I'll also be Tweeting (with my LEFT hand) occasionally and posting photos to my Instagram account. (jessashley87). But staying off the computer is important to healing--my writing career depends on my hands!
If any major news occurs, I'm sure I can talk Kate into posting it here for me. :)
In the mean time, I'm going to be reading tons and tons (yaaaay!), loving my kitties, spending time with Kate, going to California to visit with my Cali Barn Mafia, and working on my other hobby--photography.
Much love to you all and see you in November!
Several new items have been added to the Official Canterwood Crest store
! Grab these super cute tees while you can! Look for more mixes of colors and styles soon!
Lady Gaga - Applause MTV Video Music Awards 2013 HD
Exciting, stunning performance! So, so happy she's back! Yay, Gaga! <333 br="">
I've been so crazy busy that I haven't been watching my blog comments as much as I should have been, but it appears that on August 14, Stephenie Meyer commented on my blog post regarding her interview in Variety. I can't be sure it was Stephenie, unfortunately, as it was an anonymous comment and she didn't email to say "hey, it's really me!" :) But, if it is in fact Stephenie Meyer, I'd love for you all to read her response pasted below.
Stephenie, if you truly did comment, I sincerely appreciate you stopping by and offering your take on what happened with this interview. It means a lot to me that you took the time to comment with such thoughtfulness and address the points I brought up about this interview.
Your coming forward and leaving this response certainly has changed my opinion about the interview and I can definitely understand the miscommunication that sometimes comes with talking to a reporter. Your response about the "being over it" comment made me so grateful that you addressed it and got to fully express how you feel and what you were over exactly. Of course no one could fault you for that!
I wish you all the best moving forward and thank you for giving *us* a great decade! I'm incredibly appreciative of your explanation and I apologize for jumping to conclusions based on something I've read. I learned a valuable lesson here and will keep it in mind going forward and reading future interviews.
Here's what Stephenie had to say:
Read her response, Aug. 14th
August 14, 2013
I'm just back from my short publicity tour for Austenland, and very glad to be home with my boys. I hope you all are having a wonderful summer with your families, and that you have a few more weeks to enjoy (unlike Arizona, where we were back to school last week).
With all the travelling, I only just heard about the current controversy, and I am both surprised and dismayed. I am horrified that my words could be construed in any way to mean that I am "over" the lovely people who embraced Twilight, made it such a huge hit, and changed my life. The time I've spent with my fans has been one of the most precious gifts of this whole experience and I will certainly never forget them or think of them with anything but immense gratitude. I was lucky enough to see a few of them Tuesday night at the Apple "Meet the Filmmakers" event, and they were so lovely! I'm always surprised and touched that people still care about my stories.
Any of you who have ever watched me answer a question live, especially to an indulgent inquirer like a fansite, know that I do tend to go on. Though I try to be as concise as possible to make editing easier for whichever news outlet I'm working with, I'm (still) not very good at it. If you look at the Variety article, you'll notice that I'm speaking in very short statements. Of course, I didn't actually. I spoke in run-on paragraphs and made the poor, sweet man who interviewed me comb through painstakingly trying to find a few completed sentences that he could use to convey the idea of what I was saying. Unfortunately, in shortening the interview to a usable size, some of the meaning of what I was trying to say was lost, and I believe the statements I made ended up sounding much more harsh than I meant them.
Even those of you who love Twilight the most (in fact, especially those who love it the most) have probably noticed that there's been just a teensy little bit of backlash following the success of the books and films. I try my hardest to be thick-skinned, but I'm not much better at that than I am at brevity. So when I speak of Twilight becoming a negative place for me, it is entirely that near-omnipresent Twilight antipathy that I am speaking of. And I'm not complaining or saying it's unfair—I totally understand and even empathize with its existence. I'm just saying that Twilight isn't the wholly positive place for me that it once was.
Also, in regards to being "over it," I will admit, it's getting harder to answer the same questions about Twilight that I've been answering for the past decade (especially when I'm so excited to talk about Austenland). I can only imagine you are just as over reading those same answers. And the little bit about posting which characters died? That was referring to a solemn oath I made years and years ago to some cool fans. I swore I would not take to my grave the ideas I had for future stories, even if all I could to was list the outcomes in bullet points.
So please, never think I don't appreciate the people who read, watch, and love Twilight. I am grateful for your existence every single day. Thanks for the most amazing decade!
I've got a ticket to the MTV VMAs that I can't use as I won't be able to go. :( But I want someone to enjoy the show, so my ticket is up for sale on eBay. Please spread the word to anyone you know who might want it.
Here's the info and there's a map on the link to show you where my seat is:
I have one ticket that I purchased via StubHub for the VMA's for sale. The physical ticket will arrive to me on or before 8/23 (according to StubHub) and I will immediately mail the ticket to you via USPS Priority Mail Express.
This info is from my StubHub order:
As a potential buyer, I would understand the fear of a scam for a ticket. So, I am putting up a link to my personal Website so you can see that I'm not a fraud or selling a fake ticket. I http://www.jessicaburkhart.com. Upon purchase of the ticket, we can exchange email addresses and I'll forward you the email from StubHub so you can see that I did in fact purchase the ticket.
I live in Brooklyn and will be mailing the ticket from here. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me! :)
Thank you for bidding!
My friend Maggie posted a link to an interview with Stephenie Meyer that's apparently causing some controversy. Since I'm blogging so soon after reading the interview (half an hour-ish later) it obviously stirred something in me. Maggie and I have differing opinions on the fan response to this interview. *sharpens claws* KIDDING! That's what makes a great interview--it got both of us talking.
I am going to post the sections of the interview that I want to discuss. This interview is from VARIETY and written by Dave McNary.
So, from the interview (Q&A Stephenie Meyer: ‘Twilight’ Author Trades Undead for Well-Bred in ‘Austenland’) here are the sections I pulled:
DM: What about a return to “Twilight?”
SM: I get further away every day. I am so over it. For me, it’s not a happy place to be.
DM: Is the door completely closed on that?
SM: Not completely. What I would probably do is three paragraphs on my blog saying which of the characters died. I’m interested in spending time in other worlds, like Middle-Earth.
First, if you know me at all or have read my blog before, you know I'm a die hard Twilight fan. I adore the books, the movies, actors--all of it. So there's your full disclosure. :)
That said, I don't think this is JUST about being a Twilight fan or not. I read these quotes (and read them again) and got more irked each time I went through the interview. If we step back from the "fans are going CRAZY!" for a moment, does anyone else think this could go deeper as an issue of respect between an author and a reader? Could those words in the first section I posted be read as an example to authors of what NOT to say?
For *me,* as a Z list author compared to SM on the A list, I would feel as though I'm completely disrespecting so many people and rolling my eyes at what (Canterwood and Team Canterwood) got me to where I am.
Part one of the two quotes:
"I get further away every day."
Okay! Totally true and understandable. You're working on new things. Your passion has shifted to different projects. That happens as an artist. Cool. Go and create!
"I am so over it."
Sigh. This one really got me. On one hand, I HATE the part of me that's thinking, "Censor yourself, SM! Even if you feel that way about TWILIGHT and are so over it, keep it to yourself!" Going along with that line of thinking . . . what good does it do to say you, as an author, are "over" a completed project? A completed project that people are still enjoying--both reading and watching--and a new generation of younger people might pick up and try. If you're over your creation and done with it, WHY voice that to people who aren't in that space?
To me (again, in my opinion! :)), it comes off really ungrateful and disrespectful to many people. Not just readers and movie goers, but editors, agents, producers, actors, sale teams--etc. Down to people who played the smallest of parts in getting YOUR product (books/movies) to catapult you to the place you are now. Where you're able to live a comfortable life and not worry about a paycheck and have endless opportunities like creating a film company. I'm guessing SM didn't imagine herself to be a film producer when she was on submission with TWILIGHT. But this one book turned series turned movies took SM to her current lifestyle. She worked INCREDIBLY hard--not disputing that at all. Not for a second. That said . . . there were many, many people whose name's we don't know who worked behind the scenes on the TWILIGHT SAGA (TS) and are now reading quotes of the creator who is "over" it.
As a reader, I felt like it was a slap in the face and something that made me like SM a lot less as a person. That opinion doesn't come from this one interview, BTW, but from several that I've read and wished I hadn't. I adore the TS and don't want to be reading NEW MOON and thinking about this interview where SM has washed her hands of the TS.
As an author, I feel a tremendous amount of disbelief, I guess, that she would choose to say these things. Again, maybe a little self-censorship would have better served her here. I spent 7 years writing Canterwood. It wasn't easy and of course there were times I got frustrated. I am not delusional--please don't think I'm likening my experience to SM's.
But on a basic level . . .
There were days when I wished I could be working on a different project. But I would have felt as though it would have been rude and insensitive to my readers to say, "Hey, guys! Keep reading my books, but I'm over 'em! Peace."
Team Canterwood, my readers, are fiercely loyal to the series and to ME. I'm incredibly lucky to have readers that care about what I have to say beyond my books. So if during the writing process of a novel, I suddenly became uninterested in it, I would keep that to myself! I would never put that on my readers. It does nothing but dampen enthusiasm. I mean, if I, as the author, am not excited, why should anyone else be?
Canterwood as a series on shelves is complete. Or, will be in November. :) and :( As I've said, I have such mixed feelings about this coming to an end. Well, okay, not so mixed that I'm ready to let go yet since I'm planning Canterwood e-novellas. I do have the desire to work on other projects (such as WILD HEARTS, my debut YA, and UNICORN MAGIC, my debut chapter book series) and am in love with them. But I am still utterly infatuated with Canterwood. I always will be! Even if I'm not writing it and it's NOT the project that I'm the most passionate about at the current moment, I can say this about Canterwood: those 20 books got me here. Here as in able to be a full time writer. Here as in having lovely readers who do nothing but support me and love those books as much as I do. I will never be able to say about another project that it did for me what Canterwood has. To ever even dream of saying that I'm "over it" would not only be a huge disrespectful move to my readers, but to my editor, publisher, etc.
I may be finished with Canterwood, but I am not over it. If I ever post that I am, however, then I wouldn't be upset with any reader who decided to be as over it as I am. Unfortunately, I think that's a lot of the feeling that SM stirred up in TS readers.
The next sentence:
"For me, it’s not a happy place to be."
Obviously, I am NOT at a level to even begin to understand what SM has/is going through with TS success and fame. If it's not making her happy--she shouldn't be involved in it. I wouldn't want an author to continue creating something (say another book from Edward's POV) if it makes the writer unhappy. It will come through to the reader. So for this sentence, I can't and don't judge her for something about the TS not making her happy. That's her personal business to deal with however she chooses.
Onto the second question. SM's response to if she's completely out of the TS world:
"Not completely. What I would probably do is three paragraphs on my blog saying which of the characters died."
Me: REALLY long pause. *head tilt* Pause. *reads the quote again*
From a reader's POV these two sentences probably bothered me the most. I've invested countless hours of time in the TS books and movies. The characters are part of me. I'm endlessly grateful to SM for creating the TS and giving me such a huge gift. WHY, oh why, would she want to sum up whatever fantasy I've dreamed up after BREAKING DAWN's end with that little of an effort?
"Three paragraphs on my blog" is ALL she is willing to do? I really doubt a lot of readers would want any form of . . . I don't know . . . "closure?" to come that way. After thousands of book pages read, the fact that SM would even SAY that the only way she would get back into the headspace of the TS is via her blog and three paragraphs with info on who died is infuriating.
As an author, it would be like me posting a sentence on my own blog about how Sasha's time at Canterwood ended. Just one sentence. That's it. That's all you get, readers, after sticking with me for 20 books. Thanks! NO WAY! That's beyond--just beyond--comprehension. I really, truly would like to know what went through her head when she concocted that answer. How could SM even entertain that as a good idea?
I'm honestly not trying to make this a "let's all hate on Stephenie!" post. I think this interview in particular is good for authors because it may serve as a reminder that even if we've long moved on from a project, there are still readers/viewers who haven't.
Again, SM has every right to move on and do what she likes creatively. I wish there had been more thought put into her words. For me, it impacts whether or not I really want to invest my heart into a future work of SM.
I'd love to hear what you all think. (Haha that I thought I could express my feelings on this via a Tweet or two!)
I am BEYOND excited to be able to share the cover of my first ever chapter book!! Here it is! This is for the first book in my Unicorn Magic series from Simon & Schuster's Aladdin MIX. BELLA'S BIRTHDAY UNICORN hits stores in summer 2014 and I couldn't be happier.
I'm absolutely in love with my first illustrated cover! Thank yous to Alyson Heller, editor of all things magical, Fiona Simpson, Bethany Buck, the rest of the S&S Aladdin team and the sales force who support this book. It means so very much to me. Special thanks to illustrator Angela Martini
who captured the spirits of Bella and her unicorn PERFECTLY.
I hope you all love it as much as I do! :)
I LOVE Victoria's Secret fall/winter PJs! I would (well, did, ahem) max out my VS credit card to get some new PJs for this winter.
Every year, their new pjs are the clothes that Kate and I look forward to the most!
Here's what I ordered today:
Soooo pretty! I love the flannel pink ones with butterflies. The Long Janes in fair isle are also gorge and I adore the icy plaid cotton pants/henley. :)
Anyone else PJ crazy? :)
Coming August 2013 . . .
Forget "fun in the sun!" Canterwood girls are all about hard work--and the competition is about to get . . . HEATED.
A Canterwood e-novella that occurs between BEST ENEMIES (#5) and LITTLE WHITE LIES.
Follow Sasha, Heather, and Jasmine to the Youth Equestrian National Team summer training camp in Florida!
More to come! I'm soooo excited to bring this e-novella to you! I'm writing and Editor K is editing so you're in for a superfun summer treat!
Can't share too many details yet, BUT how about a little prezzie in July? :) Here's the cover for one of my Canterwood Crest e-books! SANCTUARY brings you back to Sasha's world and introduces you to a new horse in her life.
Coming January 2014 via your e-reader or computer!
More details to come as we get much closer to the release date.
Love and lip gloss,
Remember THIS post about my wanting to come visit your local bookstore?
My Kickstarter campaign is now LIVE!
We've got *59* days to raise at least $1000! The more raised, the more places I can go!
Please check out my campaign page and spread the word. I hope I get to see YOU! Let's go, Team Canterwood!
Lots of love,
I'll be online LIVE to answer your questions, chat, whatever!
Can't wait to "see" you! xo
On Saturday, October 26, 2013, I'll be in Pleasant Valley, New York for a signing and possible reading!
Here are the details:
When: October 26, '13 (Saturday)
Where: Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue
What: Youth Equine Conference
I'll be signing books, selling books, and possibly speaking! :)
3 Great Pyre Way
Pleasant Valley, NY 12569
Contact: Denanna at 845-416-8583
No RSVP or tickets are needed.
I really hope to see you there and meet more of Team Canterwood! I'll update you with a time when I know more!
It would be AWESOME so we could have an estimate of Team Canterwood members who are/might be coming if you left a comment on Lucky Horse's Facebook page saying so. :)
I'm lost in unicorn land and working on Sekrit Project! Unicorn Book #2 is gonna be a fun, sparkly book! So excited! Thank you, Alyson Heller, for your ideas and input! :)
Sekrit Project is reaaaaalllly hard to keep a sekrit, lol. I can't wait to spill! I think (hope!) it's something you're all going to be excited about. I am and am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to write it.
What's everyone doing this weekend? Any plans or chilling?
Back to work, but let me know what you're up to!
Hi, Team Canterwood!
I've got an exciting idea that I wanted to share with you!
As you know, Home for Christmas (out October 1, 2013) is the final book in the Canterwood series. *I* feel as though I haven't met enough of you yet! I want to sign your books, swap stories, and perhaps give a short speech in a book-signing type setting.
In YOUR city. Or a city within driving distance to you.
The city must have a bookstore and, if it's flying distance away from Brooklyn, NY, a close airport.
What do you think? You guys ARE Canterwood, so how would you feel about me visiting? :)
The thing is: I need help. I have very little money to spend and doing a tour would be impossible without your help fundraising.
If I went to Chicago, Illinois-- the average plane ticket is $275 round trip and a hotel would be about $150 for a night.
So a tour stop in Chicago would cost (without cab to get to and from the event, food, etc) $425.
I would love, love to travel to as many cities possible especially places where I've never been to sign books.
It's important to me to go to cities where you guys--my concentrated online friends--live. So if we raised travel funds, I would hold a poll on my blog and see what cities were the most popular and then spread the funds to cover as many of those cities as possible.
Here's how I'm going to do this: I'm working on a page for Kickstarter. Soon, you, your friends, family--anyone--will be able to directly donate to my tour fund. You'll be able to see how much money has been raised and how many people have donated.
Your donations will NOT be used for anything other than travel!
I'll begin accepting donations very soon and you'll have until September 8, 2013. Then, depending on the amount of funds raised, I would plan to tour in April 2014. :) :) :)
I think fom now until September gives us some serious time to raise money for me to visit you! I have my fingers crossed that we raise lots of money and that I'll be able to meet soooo many of you!
Oh! I forgot to mention there will be rewards involved for those who donate different amounts of money. Some will be phone calls with me, a critique of your writing . . . and an ultimate prize will be lunch together if I come to your city! Yay!
So, Team Canterwood, please start brainstorming up ways to raise money. I want to see you next spring!
I'll post my link to Kickstarter soon.
Please let me know if you have any questions/concerns in the comments section. Also feel free to swap money raising ideas with each other. You know, like a summer car wash for literacy!
Love you all!
How's everyone doing? What's new with you? What are you reading or watching or obsessed with right now?
SHARE! :) I want to know what's going on with you and what's big in your life.
So, the comments are all about you guys! I can't wait to read them.
WE MADE HISTORY!
I am so, so proud to be able to one day tell kids that many, many years from now marriage equality won. And hopefully, it’s only going to spread wider from there.
You did it, Team Canterwood! FAMOUS is doing so, so well and it's all thanks to YOU! :D Let's
As promised, we're going to have a LiveStream party to celebrate! Get all signed up now so you're ready!
Here's the deets:
DAY: July 13th, 2013 (Saturday)
TIME: 3pm Eastern Standard Time (ask your parents if you're not sure what time zone you live in--for example it will be 2pm Central Standard Time)
WHERE: Go here!
"See" you soon!
The Cali Barn Mafia created this gorgeous and amazing video to spotlight FAMOUS.
Endless thank yous and hugs to Lexi Carson, Grace Carson, Contero (our star horse!), Heatherly Davis for the riding coaching, and Edelweiss Farms for hosting the shoot.
I am absolutely in love with this video and thank you, Lex, for being a FAMOUS girl.
Team Canterwood all the way!
HAPPY RELEASE DAY, FAMOUS!
I'm so thrilled, proud, and excited to have FAMOUS out in the world today! Thank you, thank you to everyone who got our 18th and final (except for HOME FOR CHRISTMAS) published.
Many, many hugs to Team Canterwood! I hope you enjoy this book--I had a blast writing it.
Here's a sneak peek from page 56! (It may not be page 56 in your copy since I picked it from my Word doc!)
"I trusted Whisper. She was at a near gallop, but it was controlled. Wisp hadn’t stopped listening to me, and as long as she didn’t forget about me, I wanted to give her a little freedom. Wind whooshedin my ears as we swept past Mr. Conner. The saddle seemed to disappear between us, and it felt as though we were one. I’d never felt closer to my horse before."
I'm SO pumped about FAMOUS!
I'm going to do ONE more reveal of FAMOUS! :)
Pick a number between 16-172 and leave it in the comments. I'll close my eyes and pick a random commenter. I'll go to that page in the manuscript and selection at least a sentence and up to a paragraph and I'll post it on Monday.
Comment away! I know we're gonna make the best selling Canterwood book EVAH so we get to have our LiveStream party! Woo!
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You asked for it . . . so here is chapter 2 from FAMOUS! Hope that'll help till 6/11! :)
I hope you enjoy it, Team Canterwood!
HOW’D YOU DO IT?
Brielle sipped the tea I’d made her and gave me an appreciative smile.
“I missed this,” she said. “You making tea for us. I tried to make a cup after you left, and it was so gross! I mean, I don’t know how you mess up tea, but I did!”
This I had to hear more about. “How’d you make it exactly?” I asked.
Brielle rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “Um, poured water into a mug. Dropped in my tea bag. Put it in the microwave for a minute and a half. Took it out and added a pack of Splenda.”
“Oh, sweetie,” I said, reaching over from my end of the couch to pat her leg. “No tea bags in the microwave, remember?”
Bri smacked her forehead with her hand. “Duh! Ugh! No wonder the tea tasted like burned rubber. Ick.”
“Well, I’m here now, so I can service all of your tea-making needs,” I said. “Now tell me, how did you get here?”
“It wasn’t easy,” Brielle said. “But I talked to my parents a lot about what I wanted for myself. What they wanted for me. You know my parents—they’ve always been concerned that I don’t take school seriously enough. At first, they were convinced I only wanted to go to boarding school so that I could goof off more and get out from under their roof.”
“That does sound like your parents,” I said. “Have to admit, though; you don’t have the, erm, best track record with grades.”
Brielle raised her tea mug. “I take total responsibility for that and accept it. I wasn’t a model student at Yates. I did the bare minimum to get by and used you and Ana a lot for help. I fessed up to my parents that I hadn’t been doing my best.” Bri took a sip of tea. “I told them I wanted a fresh start at a school that I already knew had a stellar reputation—Canterwood.”
“Were they blindsided by the idea of boarding school? I am. It’s something we never talked about. I mean, did Ana know? Why Canterwood, really? Why even boarding school?” I had so many questions for Brielle. We might be in the common room all day.
“I want to let you know, first, that I didn’t choose Canterwood to come and step on your toes. I know you’ve got a new life here. New friends, new riding circle—new everything.”
I shook my head. “Please. I wasn’t worried about that, and I don’t care about stuff like that. You know it.”
Brielle smiled. “I know. But it’s just something I wanted to say. Boarding school has been in the back of my mind since you got accepted to Canterwood. I never brought it up to anyone because it seemed like such an out-there idea for me. My grades weren’t that great at my current school, so why would I transfer to a harder school?”
I nodded, listening.
“Well, it’s because of you, actually. You inspired me, Lauren. You were a model student at Yates and obviously a much better candidate for Canterwood than me, but you pushed me to want to try. I felt like I wouldn’t get a fair shot at Yates because my teachers know me as ‘Bri the kind of ditzy girl’ and the boys know me as ‘Bri the girl who is guy crazy.’ Everyone has an opinion of me that I felt would be hard to change.”
“I know all about that,” I said. “Reputations aren’t easy to change. I hate hearing you say that teachers think you’re ‘ditzy,’ though. You’re not, Brielle. I don’t think any of our teachers ever thought that.”
Brielle raised her eyes to mine. “If not that, then they definitely thought I wasn’t working up to my potential. It was a repeat note I got on all of my report cards.”
“I’ll give you that as long as you acknowledge that you know you’re capable of doing the work and getting great grades.”
“That’s why I’m here,” Brielle said. “No one has any preconceived notions of me. The teachers will view me like a new student, and I’m going to work my butt off to impress them. I want a good reputation in the classroom. It just kind of . . . clicked for me over the summer that I was wasting a lot of time focusing on boys. They’re just so not worth it right now!”
“Whoa!” I said, putting up a hand in a stop motion. “Who are you and what did you do with Brielle Monaco?”
Bri laughed. “I’m serious! Guys are great, okay, fine, but I was sooo obsessed with flirting and getting a guy that if I’d put half of that work into school and riding, I would have been getting awesome grades and would have been a stronger rider.”
“Oh! I have to interrupt! It’s killing me,” I said. “Are you riding a stable horse? Which horse is it?”
Brielle’s face morphed into a giant grin. “Nope. I’m not riding a stable horse. Laur, my parents bought Zane from Kim! He’s coming today! I have my very own horse!”
“Omigod!” I squealed. “BRI!”
The albino gelding had been a school horse at Briar Creek for years. Brielle had been the one to ride him the most, and she loved him.
“I know! Mom and Dad said if I got bad grades at any point, though, the first thing to stop is my riding. There’s no way I’m letting anyone take that from me, so you know I’m going to work hard.”
“When did you apply?” I asked. I stretched my legs out on the couch so my left foot rested on top of Brielle’s knee.
“I wrote a letter to the headmistress and asked if I could submit myself for consideration in August,” Bri said. “It was so late in the year that I was sure she’d say no. I got an e-mail back, though, with the go-ahead to submit my transcripts and stuff.
“Did you tell anyone then?” I asked. “I wouldn’t have been able to keep that to myself.”
“I told Ana,” Brielle said. “She told Taylor, but they were the only people who knew.”
Students passed by the common room, laughing. Thankfully, the door didn’t open and no one came inside. I wanted every second of one-on-one time with Bri that I could get.
“How did Taylor respond to your news?”
Brielle stared into her tea mug, then back at me. “He was totally fine with it from what Ana said. We still weren’t speaking after the voice-mail fiasco. Ana said Taylor told her that he didn’t care that we’d both applied.”
“What about Ana? I feel bad for her! She’s the only one of us left.”
“I feel the same way. She was supersupportive of my applying and thought it would be really good for me. I could tell, though, that she was sad and hiding it. I’m just glad she has Jeremy. It’s not the same as having a best friend, but they’re close.”
Almost two hours later, Brielle finished her story. I’d interjected every so often with questions. In front of us were two empty tea mugs—we’d drained two cups each—and napkins with crumbs from the kitchen’s brownies.
This was a new side to Brielle. An academic-minded Bri who wanted to be a better student and rider.
“After you see all of the cute boys on campus,” I teased, “I give you three days before you’re gaga for them.”
“Nooo!” Brielle said, her tone a half whine. “Don’t do that to me. I’m still . . . weak. You can’t tell me about cuties this early in my detox.”
I laughed so hard I felt my face turn red. “Okay, okay,” I managed to get out between laughs. “No boy talk.”
“Except about your boy,” Bri said. She raised an eyebrow. “I never said I couldn’t talk about my bestie’s boyfriend.”
The warm blush didn’t fade from my face. I hadn’t had much time during Parents’ Weekend to talk to Brielle about Drew. Now I could talk to her all day about Drew! Maybe not all day, but . . .
“Look,” I said. I woke up my BlackBerry, went to my “Drew” album, and set it on slide show. I held my phone between us, and Bri oohed and aahed at the pics. A lot were candids that I’d snapped of Drew swimming or riding. Some were of us that we’d gotten friends to snap of us together.
“Asking about Drew is dangerous,” I added. “You’ll have to slip me Sleepytime tea to make me be quiet after I tell you the fiftieth story about us.”
“Um, I’m still the same Brielle,” she said, a wicked grin on her face. “I want to hear boy stories!”
“You asked for it.” With that, I snuggled back into the couch pillow and told my best friend all about my boyfriend.
First Aladdin M!X edition June 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Jessica Burkhart
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.