Category Archives: Uncategorized

Catch up time!

It’s been FOREVER since I last blogged! Mainly, it’s because I’ve been super busy with a new writing project. It’s finally “finished” to the point where my agent take over so that’s been nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time.

Second, I moved from Cincinnati to Tennessee. I’m about 45 minutes from Nashville which isn’t bad at all. I’m from Nashville so being back in Tennessee kinda feels like a homecoming of sorts. I never envisioned myself back in Tennessee, but circumstances brought me here and I’m glad to be near N-ville again. Mostly, because my friend of a decade, author Amanda K. Morgan, lives in N-ville and we’ve been Internet friends for so long and have yet to meet in person!

That all changes tomorrow though! Mandy and I are attending SEYA or the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival. I’m driving to Mandy’s apartment tomorrow and we’re leaving from there on a 45 minute road trip to Murfreesboro. So excited because my author friends Carrie Ryan and Maggie Stiefvater, among others, will be there. It should be fun! The event is FREE to the public so come if you’re in the area!

Jason, my younger brother, started his cancer treatment at Vanderbilt. It’s a top notch facility and he needs it for his stage 4 hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was going in three times a week for blood work but now is down to twice a week. It’s a scary time while we wait to see if this new experimental drug will help him or not. His cancer hasn’t responded to traditional chemo and radiation so please keep him in your thoughts.

I’ve been walking the line between trying to be as supportive as possible without being like, HEY! YOU HAVE CANCER BUT LIFE IS ALL RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS! It’s also been a learning curve living in the same house as adults. I moved away from home in 2009 and being back together has taken adjustment, but it’s been 99% smooth sailing. I’m embarrassed to say that there are days when I can’t deal with seeing my brother sick. My anxiety or depression has skyrocketed and I can’t mentally handle seeing him frail. I wish I was stronger than that. But I’m working on it.

Read the first chapter of TAKE THE REINS (Canterwood Crest #1) free online

So a Google Alert came up for Canterwood just now . . . and LOL! It’s someone named Rachael selling old copies of Canterwood! *crying laughing emoji*

I hope she sells them, I really do but it bring up the kinda similar problem of plagiarism or people posting author’s books online for free on places such as Wattpad. We, the writers, want to keep our jobs of writing and distributing the books in this way doesn’t help us earn enough $$ to keep writing for the readers we adore.

canterwood on craigslist


So, as a token of sharing, I posted the first chapter of TAKE THE REINS for people to share on Wattpad if they wished. Any of you guys on that site? If so, friend me! :)


Authors with mental illlness

Calling all middle grade, young adult, and chapter book authors!

I’m working on what I hope will turn into a big project and I need YOUR help!

If you currently or in the past, have suffered from any form of mental illness and are willing to share, please reach out to me. You can Tweet me @JessicaBurkhart or email me at jessica DOT ashley 87 AT gmail DOT com.

Please spread the word to your writer friends–this is a cause near to my heart and I can’t do this without you!

Save eight lives . . . a letter to my grandmother

My grandma, Marge Kirchner, passed away yesterday. She was 90 years old and had severe dementia. Alzheimer’s got her about 7-8 years ago and I am so angry at the disease. She signed up to allow doctors to study her brain when she passed and she is also an organ donor. I am so, so proud of her for that. I believe that when you pass on, your organs are no longer needed in your body. (This is MY opinion! You’re entitled to yours! :)) Why bury all of those organs when they can be used for research or to save someone else’s life?

I am an organ donor on my driver’s license and I hope it’s something my young readers will consider for theirs. Talk to your family. Look up organ donation. Think about it and if it works for you.

Eight lives.

That’s the number of lives one organ donor can potentially save. Here are some facts from LiveOnNY.

Facts about Organ Donation  

One organ donor can save up to eight lives.

The same donor can also save or improve the lives of up to 50 people by donating tissues and eyes.

More than 120,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants. [Solid Organs: Hearts, kidneys, pancreases, lungs, livers and intestines]. Of these, more than 10,000 live right here, in the greater New York metropolitan area.

On average, 18 people die every day while waiting for organ transplants in the U.S., and every 10 minutes, another name is added to the waiting list. In New York State, someone dies every 15 hours waiting for an organ transplant.

Each year, more than one million people need lifesaving and life-improving tissues, and eyes.  [Tissues: Heart valves, cardiovascular tissue, bone and soft musculoskeletal tissue, and skin.] 22% of New Yorkers age 18 and over have enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry as organ. tissue and eye donors.

Nationwide, the average is 47%. Anytime you are in a hospital, doctors will do all they can to save your life. Donation only occurs after the death of a patient is declared by physicians who are legally not affiliated with donation. The factors that determine who receives an organ include severity of illness, time spent on the waiting list, and blood type.

Financial or celebrity status has no bearing on determining who receives a transplant. Donation takes place under the same sterile conditions as any medical procedure. A donor’s body is never disfigured and donation does not interfere with funeral arrangements. Open casket services are possible. If you’re a donor, your family does not pay any bills related to donation.                                                                           

All major religions support donation. It is illegal to buy and sell organs in the U.S. The system for matching donor organs and potential recipients is regulated by the Federal Government.

The success rate for organ transplants is between 80 and 90 percent. – See more at:


There won’t be a funeral for my Gram because she didn’t want one. Instead, I want to share here some of what I would have said if there was a funeral.



Before Alzheimer’s, you were the coolest grandma on the planet. Growing up, you were like a third parent to me. While my parents were gone and on the road, you picked up Jason and me from school every day, made us toast with the crusts cut off and gave us Diet Pepsi while we watched Nickelodeon in your kitchen.

You were quirky to put it mildly. :) You didn’t let anyone¬†enter the house with shoes. Like, even if the Pope showed up I think you’d ask him to remove his shoes first.

No one was allowed to sit on your living room couch which you kept covered with plastic.

You hated it when I erased homework problems because of the mess the eraser left behind.

You went to bed early every night and got up by 5am every day.

You kept your hair a gorgeous red until you got sick. When your snow white roots started to show, you wore a bandana like a bad ass. You never fessed up to dying your hair. You sneaked off to your hair appointments like you were going to meet your drug dealer. You never admitted you colored your hair. It was natural. :)

Every day, you took me to the mall with you to speed walk for at least an hour while Pap waited in the car and chain smoked.

You taught me to always look on the ground at the mall for dropped money. I’ll never forget when I found a $20 and we feasted at Auntie Annie’s on one salted pretzel and a small lemonade–a splurge for us.

You didn’t have much money ever, but it didn’t matter. At the Dollar Store, you always had the eight pennies for tax for whatever dollar item you bought. You kept all of your change in old prescription bottles with the labels removed. You’d never break a bill if you didn’t have to and people standing in line behind us probably hated us while you counted out the change for everything, LOL.

Whenever I saved up money, you would take my change and always up it to a bill. So, I’d give you seventy cents and I’d get a dollar back.

Like me, you were terrified of all bugs. Unlike me, you were scared to death of butterflies, cats, and dogs. When you came to baby sit Jason and me in our TN home, we had to lock our orange tabby Arista in the bathroom before you’d set foot in the house. You’d ask repeatedly if the cat was “really locked up” before you came in. As I got older, I found it funny to let Arista out when you baby sat and you’d leave the house and stand outside until I put him away. I’m sorry for that now!! :)

You didn’t know how to cook. Not one damn thing. I thought it was fun living on TV dinners from the oven. You refused to have a microwave because they caused cancer. So, naturally, I didn’t know what kind of things to put in my house’s microwave when you stayed over. Remember how I put our roast beef sandwiches from Arby’s, foil and all, into the microwave? When the blue flames started, you and I ran screaming from the house. Thankfully, there was no fire damage. Except to our food.

You were the frugal queen. A trait I didn’t really inherit. ūüėÄ Shopping was something you hated doing. I would be mesmerized by clothes at Dillard’s and you’d smile, tapping your ten year old tennis shoe and waiting for me. You always made sure, though, that Jason and I had everything we needed. And lots of things we wanted.

You didn’t know how to drive. It was something you’d never learned growing up in rural Pennsylvania. You married my dad’s dad, John, at seventeen. He was your soul mate. I asked you to tell me the story over and over of how you met him when you worked the counter at the Five and Dime and he came in to buy a Coke. He took you to the movies and you were in love. Soon, you were married with a baby and you got the worst phone call imaginable. Your husband, in his early twenties, had died of a bleeding ulcer. Suddenly, you were a widow with a baby. It broke you inside, but you were determined to take care of him and yourself.

And you did.

Later, you met Pap, the grandfather I knew. He worked at the steel mill. You got married again and had a few more children–Ron, Bobby and Lorrie. My dad, John, was Pap’s step-son and the water’s weren’t smooth between them. Pap was abusive to my dad, but mostly to you up until the day he died. I saw it and you never admitted it. But you wouldn’t divorce. I don’t judge you for your choice. I just know you were always still in love with your first husband and no one could take his place. My dad was a shining light to you–your only connection to John. I think that’s why you showed such favoritism to my dad. That and because Pap showed him none. You never got over the fact that Pap helped put all three of his children through college and didn’t extend the same help to my dad–making him the only one not to go to college.

You were so proud of me and how I started college in high school. You had told me ever since I could remember, “Jessie, you’re meant to be a writer. Don’t ever give up.” I didn’t. I haven’t. I won’t. You saw my first book be published and for that I am eternally grateful.

Alzheimer’s started taking over your mind about eight years ago. By the end, you didn’t know anyone. Not even yourself. I am so angry that your mind was taken from you. Robbing you of your memories. But I will have to carry them for the both of us. I have so, so many.

You believed in heaven, Gram, so I know that’s where you are. I picture you up there looking down on me and knowing who I am. That I’m your granddaughter who spent every summer with you that I could no matter where I lived. That you and I always shared a twin bed together when I slept over so we could have “girl talk.” That you loved E! news as much as I did and knew all about Beyonce’s latest music video.

I want to make you proud. You’re always and forever in my heart. Love you long time.