My name is Kristina McBride.

I write books.

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Paying It Forward

A while back, I spent a semester as a Writer-In-Residence at Irmo High School in Irmo, South Carolina, which is a school of the arts, just brimming with talented young adults. I worked with roughly 250 students on a publication project. The idea was simple and beautiful: Each student would write and submit one short piece for publication. The execution was a bit more tricky. I had to plan for six class periods, several of those combining multiple classes at one time, which made for some very large groups. But it worked. We were all striving together toward a common goal.

My residency was a life-changing experience. The faculty, staff, and students were welcoming. The class time was inspiring. And the students? They stole my heart, all of them pouring themselves into the pieces they created. I’ll always be able to recall the nervous anticipation I was met with during critique time, offering feedback on each piece submitted, and how each face lit up when I offered praise. It was wonderful to see that the students were not only open to suggestions for revision, but eager to improve their writing. The dedication they put forth was impressive, this project adding time to an already full load of school work and extra curricular activities. The whole experience was inspiring on so many levels.

The final product arrived this week, a bound, formally published collection of short stories, one written by each student who participated in the program. It’s a fabulous feeling, holding this book in my hands. This project became all about taking what I’ve learned about writing over the years and paying it forward.

 

The Final Product

 The Final Product

The Bakersville Dozen

My fourth novel, THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN, hit shelves on August 8th. It was an exciting day, but also difficult, as this would be the first release I’d celebrate without my father by my side. The first of my novels that he would never have the chance to read. (See the post from August 1 for details.)

Because of this, I’ve been slow to schedule events. But I’m getting there. I’ll post dates very soon, I promise. For now, I’ll share some early feedback, as well as a few links to interviews I’ve had in the last month. Enjoy!

THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN - Released August 2017

THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN – Released August 2017

McBride’s prose is vivid, creating a tense atmosphere tainted with secrecy and lies. Teens will devour this mystery. VERDICT For fans of “Gossip Girl” and “Pretty Little Liars,” this thriller is recommended for general purchase for YA shelves. –School Library Journal

 

Fans of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and Gretchen McNeil’s Ten will love this intense chiller, with psychological suspense and romantic drama that add to the fast pace and confusion Bailey feels as she tries to discern who she can trust. The video, and the inability to remove it from the internet as it continues to impact the girls’ lives, is a sad reflection of the frustrating reality of sexual harassment in our digital age. –RT Book Reviews

 

Interview: Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf

Interview: Bibliobibuli YA

Interview: Pink Polka Dot Books

Top 10 List: Never Too Many To Read

 

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Working It (the best I can)

On December 9th of 2016, I lost my father. It was fast. And brutal. We thought he had an ear infection. But it was cancer, so far advanced, it had reached his brain, spinal fluid, bones, and lymph nodes. He passed a mere 12 days after diagnosis. (12 days. It still doesn’t seem real.)

 

Dad’s house was three minutes from ours. He was a regular part of our daily lives – from dinners out to BBQs in the backyard, from sporting events for the kids to shopping to just stopping by, Dad has always been there. He has been one of my best friends for most of my life. When I lost him, nothing seemed to matter anymore. I’m an only child, therefore took on the monumental task of settling his estate, including prepping his house for a sale. It was overwhelming, to say the least. Everything else in life kind of just fell away. Including writing. Which my father would have understood, but would also have hated. Dad was one of my biggest supporters in life, but especially when it came to writing.

The last picture taken of me and Dad together. This is at the launch party for A Million Times Goodnight.

The last picture taken of me and Dad together, roughly three months before we lost him. This is at the launch party for my third novel, A Million Times Goodnight. (He had a serious addiction to toothpicks. It’s beyond fabulous that you can see one here.)

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever feel like writing again. But I had commitments, the first of which was leading the Young Writers seminar at the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. Ironically, the workshop kicked off on my father’s birthday – July 8th – the first without him. The location of the event literally butted up to the cemetery where we’d buried him in January. It was heart-wrenching to make the drive every day, to not be able to call him on my way home and give him the run-down of events, as was customary after every author event I had ever attended. But the whole thing – starting on his birthday, seeing headstones as I parked my car – felt healing at the same time. Like somehow, this part had been planned for me.

 

Even more healing? The teens I had the honor of spending the week with. Their energy was limitless, their talent, insight, bravery, and hope knew no bounds. And they were intensely supportive of one another. Just being around them made me feel hopeful. And brave. These teens made me see that I might just be ready to try again some day. I haven’t started writing yet, but I’m close. I can feel a story churning up from the depths of my mind. It’s hazy and needs a good dusting off, but I know I’ll get there. My very fist step in the right direction is due to the Young Writers, and everyone else at Antioch Writers’ Workshop. After the worst 9 months of my life, AWW offered me a soft and safe place to land.

 

 

AWW was held at The University of Dayton this year, a gorgeous campus that I enjoyed exploring.

AWW was held at The University of Dayton this year, a gorgeous campus that I enjoyed exploring.

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A quiet bench – the perfect spot for writing.

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This statue intrigued me. When I went for a closer look, I heard a fountain and found my favorite spot on campus.

My favorite spot at UD.

My favorite spot at UD.

I wish I could include sound effects. This burbling water was soothing to my soul.

I wish I could include sound effects. This burbling water was soothing to my soul.

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Brainstorming Session

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Plotting

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Drafting

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Flowing

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Soaking in the Inspiration

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And a little time for play!

Receiving feedback

Receiving feedback

Evening Readers (such an honor!)

Evening Readers (such an honor!)

Prompt Time

Prompt Time

Beauty

Beauty

It’s Very Revealing . . .

When I write a book, I always have cover design ideas lingering in the back of my mind. But the story takes precedence. Always. So those cover thoughts flicker in and out as plot lines are tweaked and character motivation is deepened, all through revisions and beyond, until that magical day when I open my Inbox and find that all-important message from my super-editor, Alison Weiss, with a subject line that reads something like “Cover Time!” This is a private stage of the process, where I can’t reveal anything wide. It’s hard. I’m not so good at keeping secrets. But that time has officially passed for my upcoming release, THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN, which hits shelves on July 4, 2017. (I cannot tell you how much I love that my next book comes out on the 4th of July! It’s one of my all-time favorite holidays!)

 

The Bakersville Dozen – July 4, 2017

 

Summary:

YOU HAVE FOUR DAYS TO LOCATE FIVE TREASURED TROPHIES. BREAK THE RULES AND YOU ALL DIE. HAPPY HUNTING!

Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal.

Bailey, “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up.

But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next door she’s always pined for.

With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

The latest heart-pounding thriller from Kristina McBride blends elements of Gone Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Stephen King into a story that will leave you guessing until the final pages.

Calling all YOUNG WRITERS!

Are you, or do you know, a Young Writer in the greater Dayton, Ohio area who is 15-18?

 

The Young Writers’ program at the 32nd Annual Summer Workshop (July 8-14) would be the perfect fit! The program is held at University of Dayton in Dayton, Oho. This opportunity is open to Young Writers who live in the Ohio counties of Greene, Montgomery, Miami, Clark, Clinton, Fayette, Madison and Warren.

 

Kristina McBride will lead the program. She is the author of the young adult novels The Tension of Opposites and One Moment and most recently, A Million Times Goodnight. Her next novel is scheduled for publication, The Bakersville Dozen (Summer 2017). Kristina is former high school teacher and is an adjunct instructor of creative writing at Antioch University Midwest and Wright State University. She also does manuscript consulting through The Write Sisters (www.writesistersconsulting.com) and frequently presents at book festivals and writing workshops.

 

Partial scholarships, reducing the cost of the week-long program to $300.00, are given to all Young Writers accepted into the program.

 

Participation is limited to twelve students. To be considered for this unique opportunity, students must apply by May 31, 2017, by submitting the following:

  • A cover letter stating age, school attended, and reason for wishing to attend Antioch Writers’ Workshop. The letter should include email, phone and home address contact information.
  • A three page sample of writing of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction.
  • A one page letter of recommendation from a teacher of English, journalism or drama. (Home-schooled applicants should provide a letter of recommendation from a camp leader, preferably in the arts, or from another non-related adult, such as a music teacher or librarian.)

 

These materials may be e-mailed to info@antiochwritersworkshop.com as a PDF or WORD (.doc) file, with Young Writers in the Subject line or mailed to Antioch Writers Workshop at the University of Dayton, Department of English, University of Dayton, Jesse Phillips Humanities Center Room 200A, 300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1520.

 

For more detailed information, visit www.antiochwritersworkshop.com/young-writers–summer-workshop.html.

 

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If you’d like more information about this event, please contact Sharon Short at 937-567-2399 or email Sharon at info@antiochwritersworkshop.com

Let There Be Peace On Earth

Here’s a little something I wish we could all commit to, right here, right now, no matter how we feel about the outcome of this election. My first peaceful action will be to close out the internet and take a walk outside. When I pay attention, there is such beauty. Life is filled with grace, the most powerful moments often the most ordinary, but so much of the time we’re too busy or overwhelmed to see and appreciate this fact and feel the appropriate awe. Today, I will pull myself from the rabbit hole of the television and internet and focus on the beauty of the here and now. Because when I take my eyes off the screens and actually focus, it changes everything. My life? It’s amazing.

 

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PEACE BEGETS PEACE

An Afternoon with Jodi Picoult

On October 24, Thurber House hosted an event featuring Jodi Picoult. She didn’t want to be interviewed. Rather, she requested to have a conversation with a local author. (How cool is she?!) Thurber House made the perfect choice, inviting Katrina Kittle to sit alongside Jodi onstage. Guests flooded the King Art Complex in Columbus, Ohio, learning what it took for Jodi to brainstorm, research, write, and revise her latest novel, titled SMALL GREAT THINGS. Meeting Jodi was a huge moment for me – I’m a longtime fan and was so flubbed up with emotion, I made a total ass of myself. I think I said something to the effect of, “I love your books. You liked my Tweet!” And just, ugh. The whole thing was cringe-worthy.

But I tried again in an email, because there was something important I need to share.

I’ve always loved reading. So much, in fact, that I’ve dreamed since childhood about becoming a published author. When I had my first child in 2005, I quit a very stable job teaching high school English to be a stay-at-home-mom, and took the leap of faith into fulfilling my passion. And I failed. Miserably. My first manuscript – a suspense/thriller for adults – garnered no interest from agents. Like, none. I was devastated. But I was well aware that the publication game isn’t for the weak of heart. Plus I’m stubborn as hell. So I decided to try again. It was around this time that I picked up Jodi’s latest release, NINETEEN MINUTES. And holy wow, I discovered something very important.

I connected so deeply with the character of Josie that I finally saw what should have been obvious from the beginning. I needed to write about young adults for young adults. That revelation was the beginning of me finding my way. The next manuscript I dove into was a YA and I had so much fun in the world of my new characters, I knew that something important had clicked into place. Sadly, that novel faced rejection as well. But the rejection was nicer, more promising, and came after some serious consideration. So I tried again, because what else was I going to do? Finally, I snagged an agent with my third manuscript. Fast forward to the present day, and I find myself celebrating the recent release of my third novel for young adults, with my fourth title set for publication next summer. I have to think that the ephiphany moment where I realized YA is my thing would have hit at some point, but I love that through Josie, Jodi Picoult helped bring it to light.

 

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Me with Jodi – a super fangirl moment

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I cannot wait to read this new book!

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Jessica Strawser, Katrina Kittle, Sharon Short, Me

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Katrina & Jodi during a fantastic conversation that covered all things writing.

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The event was hosted by Thurber House.

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The Write Sisters

Book + Festival = Fun

I love a good book festival. I mean, Book + Festival = Fun, right? Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, Ohio is one of my favorite annual events. This year was no exception. At least a hundred authors attended. Thousands of book-buyers wandered through the convention center throughout the day. There’s so much to do! Shop, hit panel discussions, drop by the Kids’ Corner and/or Teen Scene.

The Teen Scene had to be my favorite spot. The theme for the day? STRANGER THINGS, which has to be one of the best new shows I’ve watched in a long time. There was also a photo booth! And tons of candy (bonus!). I spent an hour “Speed Dating,” which was such a blast. I also participated in a Lip Synch Battle. It one of those I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this-but-I’m-having-fun-anyway moments that we all have at some point in our lives. Overall, Books by the Banks was such a fantastic day. Meeting new people, especially people who love to read, and talking about books is one of my very favorite things.

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The theme of the day? STRANGER THINGS! This wall of old-school Christmas lights made me ridiculously happy.

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Lauren Gibaldi, Mindy McGinnis, Natalie D. Richards, Kristina McBride, Mindee Arnett

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Lauren and me – Photo Booth fun!

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So many YA authors!

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Natalie D Richards, Suzie Townsend, Mindee Arnett

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Melissa Landers, Jennifer McGowan, Natalie D. Richards, Kristina McBride, Lauren Gibaldi

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Me with my table mate, Shari Goldhagen

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A Wild Thing!

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The author pavilion, brimming with Authors, Readers, and Books!

 

How a Novel Can Save Our World

I was scrolling through my newsfeed recently and caught an article about gymnast Gabby Douglas. She’s a beautiful example to so many young women in our world—at twenty-years-old, she’s barely out of her teens, yet she’s an Olympic hero. Which means she’s in the limelight. This is a cause for celebration, but it’s also a moment to take cover, because people facing that much publicity will oftentimes also be hit with a wave of judgment and scrutiny. I won’t even get into the comments I’ve read about her physical appearance, how so many people have suggested that she change aspects of her beautiful self. That part is so crazy, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the haters getting worked up over Gabby’s stance on the podium as she stood with her teammates to accept the gold medal in the 2016 all-around competition. But I was surprised. Shocked, even. All of this makes me wonder who we have become as a society, why so many of us are so quick to judge.

Gabby might not have been smiling through every moment of the National Anthem, and she may not have stood at attention with her hand on her heart for the duration, but that young lady deserves respect and honor during one of the greatest moments of her lifetime. None of us—not one—know what was going on in her mind as she stood up on that podium. She was probably exhausted. She was likely overwhelmed. She may have been thinking of someone she’d lost, wishing they were there to see her shine. Her mind was probably in a million different places as she stood alongside her teammates. And none of us will ever understand. We are walking our own individual paths, different from that of Gabby Douglas, and we all need to show some compassion, some loving kindness, and give it a rest.

This is a motto that I’ve tried to live by for years now. I’m human, after all. I judge, too. At times, it’s a gut-level reaction. If I like something, I label it good. If I don’t, it’s bad. The thing about this, though, is that most of us don’t like things that we fear. And we often fear things simply because we don’t fully understand them. This can cause unrest and friction where peace and harmony might exist if only there were a more mindful approach. If those haters in the Twittersphere had calmed their itchy fingers long enough to think—really think—about what it might feel like for Gabby Douglas to stand up on that podium, to consider her youth as well as all that she had gone through to get to that moment, they might have experienced the appropriate reverence and awe.

This line of thinking helped drive the plotline and character development in my latest novel, A Million Times Goodnight. I wanted to showcase a character who was the target of hatred within his community, a character who had been shunned for something only he truly understands, someone who would push my main character to her limits and cause her to look at the world from a whole new perspective.

Hadley Miller’s best friend Penny was killed in a tragic accident just one year ago. On the anniversary of Penny’s death, Hadley goes to The Witches’ Tower to visit Penny’s memorial, and she runs into Josh Lane. Josh is an outcast, shunned by all for his role in Penny’s death. He was the only one present the night she died, which means he’s the only who really knows what happened. Yet everyone blames him. It’s the easiest choice, after all, a nice, tidy ending to a horrific event. Except that nothing’s ever that easy. Josh has secrets. And the story of Penny’s death has more layers than anyone could possibly imagine. As the book progresses, Hadley is forced to learn the true story, as well as face the emotions that arise when she realizes the part she played in the rejection Josh has faced since that fateful night.

So many books offer this type of twist, one in which a reader believes they understand a character, but soon learn they had only been scratching the surface, that there are hidden truths that explain and motivate everything a character thinks, says, and does—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I think of Hannah Baker in Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Kirby Matheson in Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson (and a whole slew of other YA authors), Melinda Sordino in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Margo Roth Spiegelman in Paper Towns by John Green, Auggie Pullman in Wonder by RJ Palacio, and so many others.

This is true in life as well. We only know a person as well as they allow us to know them. And then, we only know them through our own lens, using the one-of-a-kind perspective that we bring to the table based on the collective experiences we, as individuals, have amassed over the course of our lifetime. Something that I label as good could very well be viewed as bad in the eyes of many others. It’s this universal truth that so many of us forget as we walk through our days, interacting with others. Very few things are completely black or white, good or bad, right or wrong.

If it were possible for everyone’s life story to be known and understood in the flash of time that it takes for two people to lock eyes, there wouldn’t be so much hatred in the world. If we really took the time to know one another, we might just understand the things we fear, and then we might offer a compassionate hug instead of barbed words.

As teachers, we prepare many lessons. If we can add just one more—a life lesson about humanity—it would be amazingly powerful. It’s kinda sweet to think that this can be accomplished through the use of books. This won’t require slaving over a new unit, I promise. As you introduce your next class read, simply ask your students to keep track of the judgment they feel for each character. Then ask them to note how those judgments change as they move through the beginning, middle, and end of the book. How did those judgments change as they uncovered the truth of who those characters really are, deep down. Focus a discussion on what motivated the shift in perspective, and how this can be applied to the people who surround them in their every day lives. Through the analysis of a novel, using a fictional character to exemplify the layers that every human is made of, you might just help save a life, a community, or possibly, our world.

A One Moment Makeover

My second title, ONE MOMENT, died in 2015. Due to unforeseen events, the book went out of print and has been unavailable to readers ever since. It was one of many sad events that left a whole slew of authors and their books homeless when my former publisher closed doors last year. The good thing about tragedy (and, yes, this felt like a tragedy to most Egmont orphans) is that it leaves room for blessings to take shape. Some of those blessings happen quickly, but others require patience and a whole lot of faith.

I’m terribly excited to finally share the new cover for ONE MOMENT. This book will re-release in January of 2017, proof that new life is possible, and that even after the worst-case scenario plays out, life offers so many reasons to be happy.

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