I love a good book festival. Books + People + Food = Fun! The Pickerington Public Library’s YA Fest on July 25th was no exception. An all-day event, the PPL YA Fest offered guests the chance to mingle and chat with YA authors from a variety of genres, attend panel discussions, as well as the chance to soak up info presented during several writing workshops. The day was a whirlwind of fun and inspiration. Plus, there were food trucks. Books. And authors. Lots and lots of authors.
Now, I must take a moment to share how much I love authors, and how being part of such an amazing group is a totally exhilarating experience. First off, authors are awesome – funny and witty and sassy and smart. They bring treats to entice readers (which means I get extra chocolate for the day). And they understand me. The crazy part of me that obsesses over character traits and tangled plots, and the excited part of me that needs more books. Authors are supportive too, offering kind words and spot-on advice whenever needed. No matter how long I do this, I will always be honored to be part of a family of authors, those in Ohio and beyond.
Demitria Lunetta, Me, Jody Casella, Kate Karyus
Geoffrey Girard, Cinda Chima, Natalie Richards
Me, Paul Melko, Mindee Arnett
Me, Colleen Clayton, Lisa Klein
And the all-important Goofy Shot
In my life, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my purpose. Being kind to others ranks at the top of that list. As does being a calming presence in this oftentimes crazy world. While connected to the first two, being a good mother, wife, daughter, and friend, are separate and all-encompassing purposes that I am grateful for on a daily basis. Eating chocolate, soaking up every moment of the summer season, and buying new shoes all fall somewhere in line as well. The combination of these things make me me, but I have two additional life purposes that drive much of what I do. I am fortunate to have the chance to utilize both on a regular basis: Writing and Teaching.
I love all aspects of both writing and teaching, the planning, the execution, and the interaction with others (even if the characters are in my head, they certainly feel real). So when I was asked to lead the Young Writer’s program at Antioch Writers’ Workshop 2015, pairing my love of writing with my love of teaching, I was ever so excited. And that excitement only grew as I arrived at the workshop each morning, invited to attend classes myself, learning from great writers like Nikki Giovanni, John Grogan, and Jyotsna Sreenivasan. The whole thing felt magical, like there was a cloud of creativity swirling overhead, powering us all.
But the magic deepened as I got to know my group of teens, as I watched them throw themselves into the spotlight, totally vulnerable, waiting for critique on pieces they had written. It was nothing short of amazing – the writing each of my teens submitted, the respect and kindness each showed the others as they offered critique, and the inspiration that was brought to life within us all. One thing I know for sure is that I will take the lessons I learned from Antioch Writers’ Workshop 2015 and use them for years to come. Even better? I will be back again next year, teaching an afternoon seminar in fiction for adults. Something I have learned in this life: One purpose often leads to another.
The Young Writers . . . Writing
John Grogan & Me
My amazing group of Young Writers
Me with Sharon Short, the director of AWW
Two totally amazing, talented, lovely Young Writers on the night of their public reading
Sinking into the act of writing is amazing. There is nothing like hitting that zone where you’re only aware of the events occurring in your imagination. Writing is magical. Transformative. And I am so fortunate to experience that magical transformation each and every day, to be living the life I have always dreamed for myself – the life of an author.
It still seems surreal. There was the first book (!). And the second book (!!). Then I sold my third (!!!), and life felt more amazing than I could have imagined. There were the obligatory rounds of revision. The revisions were big, but I made my way through, no problem, no complaints. I loved this story and was dedicated to putting in the time and thought and heart required to make A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT as strong as it could possibly be before publication. Because publication was where I was headed . . . I had proof.
There was the round of copy edits, and the first pass pages, seeing my cover for the first time (Swoon!), and then receiving a hefty box of advance copies in the mail. The book was actually going to be a book in just a few short months! I was elated! Even more so when I found out it was time to reveal the cover, which is always exciting, one of those milestone moments that every author relishes. And relish I did, posting my beautiful cover on Facebook and Twitter, adding it here to my website, even offering an advance copy through a giveaway. I’d finally made it to the fun part! The work was complete, the struggle all struggled out, and it was time to coast my way to the pub date of July 27, 2015. It felt amazing.
For all of one week.
Eight days after my cover reveal, I received a devastating call from my editor. Egmont USA was closing. They would not publish any books after June of 2015. Which meant my shiny new novel, the one with the gorgeous new cover, would not be released. I was shocked, devastated, and numb for days, not just about my book, but about losing my lovely editor, about all the books that were lost. The little things seemed so big – telling my family, taking the cover off my website, making the announcement on social media sites, opening the returned package of completed first pass pages (which are never supposed to be returned to an author), storing my box of advance copies away because I simply could not look at them any longer. I wallowed. I sighed. I cried, and I am so not a crier. I ate as much chocolate as I could handle. And then I ate some more.
Then something happened . . .
I started to hope. I reminded myself that this book still has a chance. A good one, right? I mean, the thing is solid. Rights have reverted and more editors will have the chance to read and consider, editors who might just have ideas to shift or tweak or rearrange something to make this story even stronger than it already is. And on that positive note, I let it go. It’s all I can do at this point. It’s all any author can do after completing a novel. Which loops me right back around to the beginning, to the crazy-as-shit reminder that I’m living the life of an author. That this is the life of an author – the magic of the writing, the struggle of revision, the offering of heart and soul to each story, riding the highs of acceptance and the lows of rejection – it’s all a crazy swirl of amazing and I’m here, living this life I have chosen for myself. I’m reminded that even when I’m feeling heartache, I’m in the game. And all of a sudden, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
A million leaps for joy because I can finally share the (gorgeous and I love it!) cover for my latest novel – A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT – which will be released July 28, 2015 through Egmont USA.
One Night. Two Paths. Infinite Danger.
On the night of the big Spring Break party, Hadley “borrows” her boyfriend Ben’s car without telling him. As payback, he posts a naked picture of her online for the entire senior class to see.
Now Hadley has a choice: go back to the party and force Ben to delete the picture or raise the stakes and take his beloved car on a road trip as far away from their hometown of Oak Grove, Ohio as she can get.
Chapters alternate to reveal each possible future as Hadley, her ex-boyfriend, Josh, and her best friends embark on a night of reckless adventure where old feelings are rekindled, friendships are tested, and secrets are uncovered that are so much worse than a scandalous photo.
Like a teen Sliding Doors, A Million Times Goodnight is a fast-paced contemporary thriller perfect for fans of Just Like Fate and Pivot Point.
Release date: July 28, 2015.
Update: Unfortunately, I had to delete the image of this book cover. It has to do with a the closing of a publishing house and a book being put on hold while rights reverted and submissions were considered and oh my crazy here we go again. (Note that the book is ON HOLD, not dead. This book will never be dead.) I hope to share another cover in the (nearish) future!
I am beside myself with excitement to finally share some news that has been under wraps for the past six months: My next novel – A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT – has been picked up by Egmont USA! The publication date is tentatively set for July of 2015.
Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace (cuz that’s always fun!):
Kristina McBride’s A MILLION TIMES GOODNIGHT, pitched as John Hughes meets Sliding Doors, in which an Ohio teen girl grieving the loss of a friend, spends the night of her life in two alternate strands of time by getting revenge on her backstabbing ex with the help of a boy she’s always had feelings for, and who might (or might not) be to blame for her friend’s death, again to Alison Weiss at Egmont, for publication in Fall 2015, by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group (NA).
It’s such fun to be sharing the cover for the UK edition of One Moment!
I’ve been so fortunate to work with the incredible team at Usborne UK and am thrilled with this gorgeous cover.
UK Release Date: July 1, 2013
The panel that I participated in at Wright State University on March 5 happens to be one of my all-time favorites, for many reasons. First was the setting. Wright State University is my alma mater, so I felt a little like I was driving home when I pulled off the highway and made my way toward campus. Second was the panel of authors I was honored to be part of, including Sharon Short, Katrina Kittle, and Trudy Krisher. Each are talented and wonderful and so very willing to share all their knowledge of and experience in the industry. Third was the lovely moderator, Stephanie Bange, who led the four of us as we opened up and got down to the nitty-gritty. Lastly, I so enjoyed our audience, which consisted of several different classes of English and Education majors. We fielded questions about research, our writing process, the difficulties of isolation when we are submerged in a book, and so much more.
Because my nickname happens to be “Listy Kristi,” I think the best way to share the insight from our discussion would be to list a my top ten favorite tips. So, here goes . . .
10. Read. Read. And read some more. Paying attention to the things that work (and also the things that don’t work) within the genre of what you are writing is one of the best learning tools you can utilize.
9. Befriend your local librarians (even if they might embarrass you by sharing over the loud speaker that the book on pedophiles you requested has arrived, which actually happened to Katrina Kittle!) and spend an ample amount of time on research to make your story credible.
8. Don’t bother forcing yourself to follow a trend. By the time your book is completed, the trend will likely have passed. Instead, write what inspires you most, whatever that may be. Trudy Krisher highlighted this point by saying that the books that come from the heart of who we really are tend to be the most powerful.
7. Hurry up and wait. The waiting game in the business of writing is terribly difficult to handle. It’s common for years to pass between an author typing “The End” and an actual book hitting shelves. Have a plan to use your waiting time wisely . . . a back-pocket project, for instance, that you can work on in stages, might further hone your skill and will give you an additional chance at publication.
6. Have a plan for rejection. It’s one of the hardest and most prevalent aspects of this business. Most authors face a multitude of rejection before they ever connect with the right premise/book/agent/editor and take the next step toward publication. Yes. You read that right. There is rejection at every stage of the game. Even after you are published. My plan is simple: I allow myself a specific number of days to mourn the rejection – the number appropriately corresponding to the weight of the rejection. And I eat all the chocolate my broken heart desires. After the allotted time passes (usually no more than two or three days), I move on. Which means I get back in the game and start writing again.
5. Writers Write. You can talk about writing all you want – and lots of people do – but writers sit down and they write. It’s that simple. All writers have a different process, sure, but no writer will get anywhere without actually putting ideas down on a page. These ideas are often messy and disorganized during a first draft. But that’s okay, because the only way to reach a finished draft is to get through all the drafts that come before it.
4. Ignore that ugly voice of doubt. We all face doubt, hearing different versions of it as we move through the stages of the writing process. Sharon Short pictures her doubt as an ugly little gnome sitting on a very large couch, his fat gnome legs swinging back and forth, which diminishes his size and the importance of what he’s saying. (For the record, I’m working on creating my own mental picture of this large couch and offensive little gnome.)
3. Be prepared for revision. Nothing is perfect as it flows from your mind to the page during that first draft. But you can’t fix a scene or chapter if it isn’t there. So ignore your nasty little gnomes, sit down, write, and allow yourself to be a little messy. Once you have it down, you can work it, like clay, molding the story into exactly what you’re aiming to write. (Another excellent visual offered up by the brilliant Sharon Short.)
2. Pay Yourself First. This direct quote comes from Katrina Kittle, and is an especially crucial point to mention. So many of us are weighted down by the pressures of the outside world, we are often too tired to take care of our own desires. Time and again, I hear of authors who wake early to get their writing time in before the start of their day. Honor your writing time. Don’t allow anyone or anything to encroach upon it. If you take your writing seriously, others will be forced to follow suit.
1. Write what you love. Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. These might sound cliché, but the sentiment was repeated throughout our discussion and all four of us truly believe it’s the key to success.
Stephanie Bange and Amber Vlasnik
Katrina Kittle, Trudy Krisher, Kristina McBride, Sharon Short
Book festivals are so much fun. I mean, really. What’s better than hanging out in a room full of authors, surrounded by books for an entire day? Not much. Especially when the author list includes some of my top faves of all time. The best part, though, is meeting the wide variety of the people who come through. As an author for young adults, one of my favorite things is to meet teen readers who are as excited about reading as I was at their age. My day in Cincinnati was a special one for many reasons, but one of the best moments was when a sixteen-year-old girl walking through stopped at my table, excited to see the cover of my first book, The Tension of Opposites. She pointed and said, “I bought that book when we were here last year and I love it. I’ve read it four times already!” Now, that, my friends, is why I write. (Well, that and the fact that I’m not sure what else to do with the voices in my head.)
I have other favorite moments too. Like spending the day getting to know my table mate, Colleen Clayton, and my neighbor at the table next to us, NYT bestselling author, Katherine Howe. Discussing “Great YA Reads” for an hour as part of a panel with a group of super talented YA authors. Hanging out with a bunch of my of YA author friends. Meeting a slew of teachers and librarians who were on the hunt for good books to take back to their readers. Simply being around all of those readers and authors and books – their very nearness inspiring, uplifting, and validating. And, the highlight of all highlights, meeting my latest fave NYT bestselling author, Gillian Flynn. It was a surreal moment where I fell into Blubbering Idiot mode. But I’m okay with that. Gone Girl is most definitely a book to blubber about. (Did I mention that there was ONE TABLE between us for the entire day? I felt as if I were basking in her greatness. CrAzY!)
The best part of all, though, is that Books by the Banks is an annual event, which means that if you missed the festival this year, you can plan to attend in 2013.
Because I love pictures, I’ll close with a few shots that highlight my day . . .
Me with Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects.
(I’m in total fangirl freak-out mode here, but trying to hold it together.)
Me and Colleen Clayton, author of the recently released What Happens Next.
My neighbor, Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (ah-mazing) and her latest, The House of Velvet and Glass.
A sampling of YA authors who attended the event:
Colleen Clayton – What Happens Next
Rae Carson – The Girl of Fire and Thorns and Crown of Embers
Mike Mullin – Ashfall and Ashen Winter
Julia Karr – XVI and Truth
Kristina McBride – The Tension of Opposites and One Moment (but you knew that part, right?)
Me and my lovely friend, Sharon Short, who is the director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop as well as the author of the upcoming (incredibly beautiful) My One Square Inch of Alaska.
I love author events! One of my favorites each year is Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio. This festival draws 100+ super cool, national, regional, and local authors (this year’s cast of authors includes my fangirl fave, Gillian Flynn!), as well as a great audience. It’s a perfect place to find holiday gifts. Because what’s better than giving a loved one a new book, personalized and signed by the author? Nothing, right? It’s also the perfect place for teachers and librarians to meet authors and chat about possible author visits. Because author visits are always so much fun for everyone.
So, if you’re near Cincinnati on Saturday, October 20th, from 10 am to 4 pm, head to the Duke Energy Convention Center and take a stroll through the festival, stop by one of the many panel sessions, and pick up a few new reads. Admission is free. But I warn you, once surrounded by such good reading, you may have trouble controlling yourself. (Or is this just me?)