Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Queen of Likes by Hillary Homzie (VBT, guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I am pleased to be able to share a guest post by author Hillary Homzie, who tells us...

What was the most difficult thing to overcome on your path to becoming a published author and how did you conquer it?

HHThere are two words that eluded me when it came to writing novels, and I’m happy to share them in a moment. But first, I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself. And since I write for tweens, I’m going to go back to my—you guessed it—childhood.

As a kid, I lived in my imagination and was happiest making up stories in many forms--for example, tales I told to my younger sister Leslie with handmade paper dolls or the narratives I’d act out with my best friend Claire in the woods. Story-making and telling defined my early years.

This love of story and reading was definitely helpful in the classroom, as I was considered a strong writer and reader.

But something happened along the way, probably around seventh grade.

I didn’t like anyone telling me what to do, and so I rebelled against authority.

Not in the way you might imagine. In fact, I didn’t even know I was doing it.

My mother might say, “Hillary, go clean your room.” And suddenly, it was her idea not mine. My idea was to read books. My idea was to make up more stories. I wasn’t exactly a slob, not at first. But I became one, in order to get some sense of control. I would toss my stuff anywhere. I would assert my self by not pleasing my mother who was orderly and neat. I didn’t even consciously do this, but it became my pattern.

That rebelliousness extended to homework as well. I just didn’t do it. Well, I did but at the very last minute. The later the better. I lived to see how far I could go, in terms of squeaking in under the wire.

I professionally procrastinated and received an A+ in passive aggressive behavior.

I did this throughout high school and even college. I was a B+ student who always had an excuse. Wow, look how well I’m doing when I don’t even try. Everything was sloppy and dashed off at the last minute. I never polished anything. Given the fact that writing is re-writing, I really only ever reached the first part of the writing process, the very first draft!

It might come as no surprise that I gravitated toward journalism with its tight deadlines. With hard news stories, I didn’t have time to really hone and craft my writing over days and weeks. I had a matter of hours.

So, eventually, I reached a point in my life where I yearned to write novels. Don’t get me wrong, I loved writing news stories, but I wanted to make things up and that’s a no-no in journalism. I wanted to revisit my childhood storytelling self. Eventually, I took a children’s lit/creative writing class and starting working on novels for kids. Now the key is the word start. I’d write a bunch of chapters of, let’s say, a young adult novel, and then I’d table the project. Then I’d start the beginning of something else. This went on for about five years. And in those five years, I never finished a novel. Not once! I probably started a half a dozen of them.

I never wrote: the end.

Yup, those are the two words. The biggies that eluded me. My roadblock to success.

Getting to the end terrified me because it required sitting down and establishing some sort of writing routine in order to, step-by-step, finish what I started. Part of the reason I didn’t finish anything was also because I couldn’t face my own fear. Another reason was that it was much more fun to start a new project than soldier through with an old project. And part of me was still rebelling. My old pattern of asserting myself by passively thumbing my nose at authority wasn’t working though. Procrastinating and refusing to follow through with something is not a helpful life strategy!

You see, when you get to the end, you need to go right back to the beginning. That’s when you figure out what your work-in-progress is actually about—during revision. You discover why you’re writing that story and you begin to amplify themes. You prune, you add. This is when you shuffle things around into a sort of order.

By not reaching The end, I couldn’t get to the point where the serious writing happens--in revision.

Look, it’s not like I didn’t revise. I revised the one or two or even ten chapters I had started. But unless you get to the end, you really don’t know what you have written. You can’t truly edit a book until you reach the last word of your first draft.

And now you know those oh-so-important words that hindered me. And why learning how to get to the end became the beginning of my journey as a published author.


Queen of Likes

by Hillary Homzie


GENRE: middle grade/tween



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.



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.

Buy links:


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.

Visit her on the web and follow her on Twitter @HillaryHomzie and visit her on Facebook



a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here


  1. How many languages do you speak?

    1. Two fluently: English and French. I can understand some Spanish.

  2. Replies
    1. You are very welcome! I apologize for my tardiness in greeting you, my wrists are being a bit cantankerous recently, so I am trying to rest them occasionally!

  3. Hello, Do you have any input into the covers/

    1. No, my publisher (Simon & Schuster) basically takes care of that--it's really art director's jurisdiction.

  4. Thank you for the awesome giveaway!

  5. What is your favorite reading spot?

  6. Great post- thanks for sharing and for the giveaway :)

  7. I'm glad it worked out!


  8. Enjoyed your comments. Also loved the excerpt.

  9. This subject is all too true in homes today. When we had a snow storm with no power our favorite time was playing board games and just being unconnected. Since then my family is requesting family game night. Thanks for the contest---Rae

    1. No Power--would be a great title for a picture book :)

  10. Do you still have a lot of trouble with "the end"?