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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Thursday, March 12, 2015

(MMGM) Guest Post: Hillary Homzie, middle-grade author

Welcome to part two of Day 12 of the 4th Annual March MG Madness! Today we celebrate middle-grade author, Hillary Homzie! Hillary is the author of two middle-grade tween books, The Hot List and Things Are Gonna Get Ugly. And her upcoming mglit book, The Queen of Likes (whose cover is revealed below), will be released next year by Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Mix...

My new middle grade, Queen of Likes (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Mix January 2016), debuts in almost one year. And since it’s all about a girl who’s obsessed with tracking her followers and stats on social media, I thought I’d write out my current stats, just like Karma Cooper, my protagonist.
So here they are:
1 character with way more LIKEs than me
41 new pages written in the past month for my revision
3 field trips taken for my revision
1 line edit still to happen in the near future
1 official post written where I talk a little bit about my new book. Yup, this is it!
55 more followers on Twitter this month
1 title change
1 cover reveal!
Lots of gratitude to here for March MG Madness!
Mood: Super excited but also all jittery because as I write this I have four days to finish my global edit
So now let me elaborate.
1 character with more LIKEs than me
My book, Queen of Likes, is about a seventh grader, Karma Cooper, who falls a little too much in love with her social media life. She spends more time with her ten thousand plus followers than with her family, and sometimes even her friends. So the book explores what happens when someone with egobs of followers who craves LIKEs goes social media cold turkey. Yup, those evil parents take down her online account. And they take away her phone. But she’s got over 10,000 followers on fictional Snappypic. I have to confess I’m jealous of her. I’ll have to interview her and figure out how she did it, without her mom and dad knowing, of course.
41 new pages written in the past month for my revision
So right now I’m in high pressure cooker mode. As I’m writing this post, it’s the last week of February and I have less than a week to whip my global revision into shape. Basically, my subplot wasn’t quite working. I knew that at a deep DNA level, but I just couldn’t see what to do about it. But luckily, my lovely editor Alyson Heller could see very clearly what could be done. She helped me pull out some plot threads that were suggested but just not woven through the narrative. You know, this will be my seventh published book, and you’d think I’d have it all figured out. But I don’t. Yes, I’m a more confident writer. Yes, I’ve internalized a lot and trust myself more. But still, there’s a reason why you still need editors and feedback at every stage of your career.
3 field trips taken for my revision
In order to research my new subplot, I’ve gone on several field trips: a youth synagogue service, a photography class and a historical society. All of them allowed for me borrow some setting details that have really helped whip my new chapters into shape. At one point I used to be a reporter. And I get to feel like that person again. Spiral notebook and a pen behind her ear (okay, more like in my hand writing furiously).
1 line edit still to happen in the near future
In the next month or so, Alyson will be giving me line edits. I’m looking forward to those, frankly, because it will involve smaller decisions. And it will mean we’re getting closer to the goal line. After that, managing ed (the copy department) will further help to buff and smooth everything out.
1 official post written where I talk a little bit about my new book. Yup, this is it!
I don’t think I need to say more since you are currently reading my post. But I will say this. Writing this was a much appreciated break from my revision. It helps me to see that, yes, this someday will be a real book!
1 title change
My working title was Karma Cooper, Unplugged. I thought it was fun. But some part of me knew it could use some massaging. The title sounded as though it could be about a musician. You might theorize it’s about an electric guitar player who starts playing acoustic. Or maybe it’s about a girl who decides to take time off from watching TV or maybe her computer. But my book is about a middle schooler who is forced to take a vacation from social media. So when Alyson said that the team over at Aladdin/MIX had brainstormed and come up with a new title, Queen of Likes, I was overjoyed. It says what it’s about. Plus, as a bonus, it taps right into the major theme of the book.
55 more followers on Twitter this month
Not that I’ve been counting or anything! Ha! You see, I’ve tried to understand my character better by being more active on social media. I’ve always been regular on Facebook but I haven’t always been so consistent on Twitter. Now I’m tweet happy. And have found myself obsessed with notifications. Like Karma, I want more followers. So follow me @hillaryhomzie. Please. Please. Please! It’s all in the name of research and authenticity, you see. 
1 cover reveal!
A couple of months ago Alyson sent me a black and white sketch for the cover, which I thought was adorable and showed what the book was all about. Anyway, she very recently sent me the actual cover. So insert drum roll--here it is. Yes, this is the very first cover reveal. I'm so excited to share it here with you now!

Lots of gratitude to be here for March MG Madness!
Thanks for having me here today at Word Spelunking! I look forward to returning in about a year for the Queen of Like’s book birthday!
Mood: Super excited but also all jittery because as I write this I have four days to finish my global edit
Okay, I better get back to those edits

Hillary Homzie's previous middle-grade novels

Things Are Gonna Get Ugly
I look up, staring at the face staring back at me. There must be some mistake….There must be someone else looking at herself in the mirror. I open my mouth. The person in the mirror opens her mouth. I touch my nose, and so does the skeevy in the mirror. When Ernestine Smith moved from Pennsylvania to California, she reinvented herself as Taffeta — so successfully that she’s now the leader of The Girls, the enviable popular clique at La Cambria Middle School. That is, until she’s caught cheating off brilliant-but-geeky Winslow Fromes, and Mr. Dribble, her social studies teacher, offers her a fresh start in lieu of punishment. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance? But what Taffeta doesn’t realize is that Mr. Dribble has the ability to turn her back into Ernestine, as if her transformation into Taffeta never happened. The only way to become Taffeta again is to dance with Winslow at Winterfest…no problem for Taffeta, but even Winslow wants nothing to do with a loser like Ernestine.

The Hot List
It all starts as a goof between Sophie Fanuchi and her BFF Maddie Chen–a “Hot List” the two girls create and anonymously post in the girls’ locker room listing the cutest boys at Travis Middle School. Soon enough the list has taken on a life of its own. Maddie’s thrilled to be caught up in all the excitement and finally hanging out with the “pops,” Travis Middle School’s self-proclaimed It Girls. Sophie, however, misses just having secrets between herself and Maddie. Even worse, Maddie’s suddenly super tight with Brenna Tate, leader of the pops and the daughter of Sophie’s father’s new girlfriend. As Sophie and Maddie’s friendship unravels, Sophie latches onto an impulsive bet with Brenna to get the universe right again–Sophie declares she’ll prove the list is meaningless by making over their wacky classmate Squid so that he can land on the Hot List. But will any bet or list matter more than Sophie’s friendships . . .? 

Hillary Homzie is the author of the tween novels, Things Are Gonna Get Ugly and The Hot List, as well as the chapter book series, Alien Clones From Outer Space. She's looking forward to the debut of Queen of Likes in January of 2016. Hillary teaches in the graduate M.F.A. program in children's writing at Hollins University as well as for the Children's Book Academy. Visit her at


lavish said...
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Manju Howard said...

Hi, Hillary! I love the cover and concept of Queen of Likes. And I agree on the title change. I just read a PB called Doug Unplugged about a robot boy. Can't wait to read your new book. :)

Hillary said...

Love the title DOUG UNPLUGGED. That's super cute, Manju. I'm so glad you LIKE the cover and concept of QUEEN OF LIKES. With a house full of teens and tweens, I definitely see the good and the bad that comes with social media. I definitely don't want to look like I'm coming out against it
but I do think that sometimes kids need to put down their phones and make real in-person connections. But believe me, I love all the good stuff about social media!

Laurie J. Edwards said...

What a great cover! Perfect for the story. And congrats on the new Twitter followers. Looking forward to reading it.