Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Queen of Likes by Hillary Homzie Excerpt, Trailer, Song, Interview & Giveaway

Queen of Likes
by Hillary Homzie


GENRE: middle grade / tween contemporary fiction



Like everyone at Merton Middle School, Karma Cooper’s smartphone is almost another body part. She’s obsessed with her LIKES on Snappypic. When her parents shut down her social media account and take away her smartphone, Karma’s whole world crumbles. She has to figure out what she actually likes and how to live life fully unplugged. This book will jumpstart conversations about how social media is changing the ways tweens are growing up.


Excerpt One:

Where are all my likes? I refresh the page. And . . .


I shake my phone as if that might help.

Still nothing.

This doesn’t make sense. I used the filter that everyone else on Snappypic is really into. It makes everything seem dreamy. But with only 45 LIKES, the sun is losing its brilliance and looks lonely and unloved.

Maybe I need to turn it off and on?

I turn off my phone and restart it. I text Ella Fuentes: Did you see my photo? I add a smiling emoji.

No response.

I know Ella’s up. It’s late morning. She’s my best friend. Maybe she’s reading or drawing, but she’s definitely up.

If she wasn’t doing something else, I’m sure she’d like my photo. I try a couple of other girls I know. Nothing. It’s late Saturday morning and all my followers have to be up by now.

As of 11:07 a.m. today, I have 12,032 followers on Snappypic. My followers are pretty much all the kids at Merton Middle School and a bunch of other middle schools around Portland. But I have two middle schools in Mission Viejo. That’s all the way down in Southern California. I didn’t know where it was until I checked it out in Google Maps. Usually between four hundred and nine hundred followers give me a thumbs-up on anything I post. So yeah, I get more LIKES than anyone I know at school.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is happening to me.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Hillary is the author of the tween novel, THE HOT LIST (Simon & Schuster/M!X) which Booklist says “captures the angst of young teen friendships and fragile identities.” She’s also the author of the middle grade novel, THINGS ARE GONNA GET UGLY (Simon & Schuster/M!X), a Justice Book-of-the-Month, which was just optioned by Priority Pictures, and the forthcoming  QUEEN OF LIKES (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X, April 2016), which is about social media, as well as the humorous chapter book series, ALIEN CLONES FROM OUTER SPACE (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), a Children's Book-of-the-Month Best Books for Children. Emmy-nominated Suppertime Entertainment developed the books to become an animated television series and it was sold to ABC Australia. Hillary’s young adult fiction has been published in TEEN MAGAZINE and anthologized (MUDDVILLE DIARIES, Avon Books). She has sold non-fiction and fiction projects to Klutz Press/Scholastic Books, The Learning Company and John Muir Books. With her frequent writing partner, Steven Arvanites, she has had film projects developed by Brooklyn Weaver’s Energy Entertainment. Hillary got her start performing and writing sketch comedy Off-Broadway, and was a Heideman Playwrighting Award Finalist. Hillary holds a master's degree in education from Temple University and a master’s of arts degree from Hollins University in children's literature and writing. Currently, she’s a visiting professor of children’s literature and writing at Hollins University.


Where are you from?

I was born in Denver, Colorado and lived there for about a year before my family moved to Charlottesville, Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountain. My father was a professor of psychology and moved from a post at the University of Denver to the University of Virginia. So I definitely had the experience of growing up in college town. Not exactly urban but not exactly traditional suburban either. As the daughter of a professor, I had the chance to experience living away from Virginia every now and then (every seven years to be exact when my dad was away on sabbatical). When I was six, we moved to Sussex, England where my dad taught at the University of Sussex and then later when I was 13 we moved to Menlo, Park California where my dad was a scholar-in-residence at Stanford. I appreciated both places. In England, I loved how magic was everywhere (there was a castle overlooking our entire street), and in California, I loved the weather and finding an amazing set of friends who I still keep in touch with to this day! After college, I moved to Philadelphia for a year, then I moved to New York for a couple of years, and then back to Philadelphia for four and half years while my husband was in law school. When our firstborn was 20 months, we moved to northern California and we’ve been here for about 18 years. I love it, but I miss my family on friends on the East Coast. Luckily, I spend the summers at Hollins University where I teach in their fantastic graduate program in children’s writing and illustrating (https://www.hollins.edu/academics/graduate-degrees/childrens-literature-graduate-program/). It’s a nurturing program where students study for six weeks in typically three to five summers to earn their M.A. or M.F.A.

Tell us your latest news?

I have a new book Queen of Likes, (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin Mix) which is book for tween girls. It’s all about social media and how it’s affecting girls this age. Here’s the book trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDoojO03TVg

And here’s a song written specifically for the book by my son Ari Eisenberg of the band Secure the Sun.  It’s called Queen of Likes https://soundcloud.com/ari-eisenberg/queen-of-likes

Here’s a summary of the book: Like everyone at Merton Middle School, Karma Cooper’s smart phone is almost another body part. She's obsessed with her likes on Snappypic. Karma attends a classmate’s bar mitzvah and when she is called up to sing, she’s in the bathroom on her phone (well, what else do you do in the bathroom?). When her parents shut down her social media account and take away her smart phone, Karma’s whole world crumbles. She has to figure out what she actually likes and how to live life fully unplugged. Ultimately, Karma ends up learning to do something because she LIKES it versus what others think. For a community service project, completes a photo project for the local historical society and also takes a photography class. Set in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, this middle grade novel will jumpstart conversations about how social media is changing the way in which tweens are growing up.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started out life as a journalist. In high school, I was the editor of the paper, and I was the features editor of the Cavalier Daily while attending the University of Virginia. After college, I worked at WMJA radio station as the news director, and one day I interviewed a children’s book author. She was a grandmother, and her book wasn’t that professionally produced but I (at 22 years-old) nevertheless, felt very jealous of her. That was my first clue that I what I really wanted to do was write books for kids. Envy is a powerful emotion and it can sometimes be helpful to point you in the right direction in life. A couple of years later I moved to New York and took a children’s book writing class at City College. That’s when I really wrote my first children’s book manuscript.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably in second grade, when my teacher wrote me a note. She wrote: “Hillary, you are a writer!” Her name was Carol McCrone and I remember internalized that statement and thought, wow, I’m a writer. In sixth grade, my teacher, Ms. Casey wrote something similar in my yearbook—something like to Hillary, a future writer. I remember, swallowing hard and thinking—wow, if they can see that maybe I can too.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I wrote my first book when I was pregnant with my first son. And I was determined to write a children’s middle grade novel. It was based on my experiences in fifth grade when I joined the nature trail club and helped save the Meadowbrook Creek from being bulldozed over. I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and helped to clear a nature trail.  While the book has yet to published, it helped to get my writing noticed by editors. Today, the creek is a city park in the city of Charlottesville!

What would you like my readers to know?

I write books that will help start conversations between tweens and the adults in their lives. But at the same time my books are fun and even funny. When I was in my early twenties I wrote and performed sketch comedy in New York City so that part of my life has definitely influenced my writing. But at heart, I’m a sensitive person (sometimes overly so), and I like to write in an entertaining way about issues that touch the lives of tween girls.

Queen of Likes buy Links:

A  link to the song QUEEN OF LIKES which was written just for the book. It’s a wonderful song. Here’s that link: https://soundcloud.com/ari-eisenberg/queen-of-likes



Hillary Homzie will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


  1. I really enjoyed reading the excerpt, thank you!

  2. thank you for the chance to win :)

  3. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  4. Thank you for informing me about this book.

  5. Great post - I loved the interview :)

    1. I thought the questions were great so it was fun to answer them :)

  6. This is such an awesome giveaway and thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. Such a fun trailer!


  8. Sounds great,thanks for sharing!

  9. Sounds like a great read, thank you for the interesting interview!

  10. Remember when Sally Field said "You like me! You really like me!" That could only happen before Facebook and smartphones, when people had to really like you.

  11. Enjoyed your comments. Sounds like a great book.

  12. Sounds like a great book! My daughter is a huge fan of your work. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I enjoyed the interview! Thanks for sharing it.