Jessica Burkhart is one of the most productive and pro-active authors I know, and her first book just came out! She does a great series on her blog about being a first-time author, and she's just a fun and fabulous person in general. So I had her come talk about her debut cover for Take the Reins, book one in the Canterwood Crest series, and it turned into a mutual lovefest. Yay!Here's Jess: "The lovely and witty Melissa Walker asked me to share my cover story. I love my cover so much and I'm pumped to talk about how it happened. "When I wrote TTR in November 2006, I was so focused on the writing that I didn't even think about potential covers. It was the first book I'd ever written, so writing was enough for me to think about. :) "Fast forward through finishing the draft, finding an agent and getting a publisher. "In the spring of 2008, I heard there would be a casting call for models and a photo shoot. I thought that was FANTASTIC and I couldn't wait to see the photos. Then, Editor K offered me an invitation to come to the shoot. There was jumping and screaming involved. (I was screaming--not Editor K. But maybe she was after getting e-mails and phone calls from me in my insanely excitable state.) I'm surprised the neighbors didn't come over to see if everything was okay. That was weeks before the shoot, so you'd think I would have calmed down when the actual day arrived. "Um, no. There was no sleeping the night before the shoot. I spent most of the night staring at the red numbers on the clock and watching bad infomercials. (FYI infomercial hosts--screaming into the camera won't convince me to buy your product!) "I felt as if I was in shock during the entire photo shoot. It was the weirdest sensation to meet my 'characters' and chat with the models--the faces of Canterwood Crest. The first four covers were shot on the same day and talented photographer and fellow equestrian Monica Stevenson shot the covers. Thanks to her and everyone else, it was a day I'll never forget! "The first time I saw the cover for TtR, I was sitting on my living room couch when I saw an e-mail pop up from my editor. I knew it was the cover and my hands were shaking so much I could barely click the link. Before I could, my phone rang and it was Editor K telling me she'd just e-mailed me the cover. I told her I was opening it up at that second and she stayed on the phone with me while I opened the link. I can't even remember half of what I said to her, but I do remember thinking... "So. Gorgeous. Wow. I'm a real author! "Editor K cheered with me and I could barely speak. "I looked at it a million times over the day and little things I didn't notice before kept popping out at me. Like the brilliant colors, the gleam in Sasha's eye, the gold swirls off the Canterwood Crest logo--all tiny elements that pulled the cover together. All of those embellishments were designed by cover goddess Jessica Sonkin Handelman. I do think she's quite brilliant... "Editor K and Agent A made the best decision, which was to let me see the final cover and not the drafts. I'm glad because it kept me from getting attached to a draft only to have it changed later. The final product is the only cover I've seen and it's the image I'll always have. "My cover has everything TtR is about--the bond between a girl and her horse, competition among friends and the pressures of being a new girl. The cover for Take the Reins is better than I ever could have imagined and when I look at it in its frame on my wall, it makes me feel so lucky to have a team of people behind me who care about Canterwood Crest as much as I do!" Love it! What do you guys think of the cover? And here are three more covers in the series, still to come: Take the Reins officially goes on sale tomorrow, but I hear there are copies out now. Congratulations on the release, Jess!