Friday, April 15, 2016

Virtual Book Tour for Queen of Likes by Hillary Homzie

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 Two:

“So we’re come up with a new punishment,” says Dad. “Something that will get your attention.”

Dad looks at Mom and Mom looks at Dad and I can tell that they are a united front against me. “We’re going to close your Snappypic account,” states Dad.

 “What?” My stomach dips as if I’ve just dropped from highest part of a roller coaster. I want to flop against the nearest car in the parking lot. “You can’t do that. It’s my account. It’s private. You can’t.” Every day, I get smiley faces and hearts and balloons and LIKES. All of the time. Waking up and not being able to se what my followers are up to? Being totally cut off like that? My parents might as well send me to Antarctica because I’m going to be frozen out of everything. “This must be some kind of hallucination,” I say. “The parents I know would never do this to me!”

“Karma, I’m sorry,” says Mom. “But I think you are over-reacting. You knew the rules.”

“Please.” I clasp my hands together. “Please, please. Please. I’ll do anything. I’ll babysit Toby as much as you want. I’ll clean the house every single day. I’ll make dinner I’ll—”

“It’s a final decision,” says Dad.

“But I’m like… a professional. I have more followers than some companies.”

“Exactly our point, Karma,” says Mom. “You’re not a company. You’re our daughter and still a kid. And I don’t really love this obsession of yours.”

The parking lot is practically spinning. “You just don’t want me to grow up!”
 I fling up my arms. “Please,” I beg. “Don’t do this.”



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.

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:

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Hillary Homzie, author of Queen of Likes Interview for T’s Stuff

As a kid did you write or make up stories?
As a kid I definitely fell into the make up stories camp. I made up stories while playing with dolls. They were all plastic but the kind with real-ish hair. One day my mom gave me an antique porcelain doll to play with. She was beautiful in this gorgeous wedding dress. And I decided the other dolls were jealous and they took the fancy doll to the top of the stairs and pushed her down and she smashed into a thousand pieces. Usually, when I played things didn’t end up like this but I remember playing make-believe in a way where sometimes reality and pretend blurred (obviously). My mother learned not to give me antiques to play with after that. Most often, I played pretend out in the woods behind my house, or with paper dolls I’d make or with my Barbies.

Where does most of your character inspiration come from?
It’s an amalgamation. I don’t actually steal someone’s personality and put it on the page. Instead, I might take a little bit of this from some childhood friend, or a little bit of that from one of my kids and a lot of that from myself. It’s a mash-up sort of deal.

Do some qualities of your characters come from real people?
Well, aspects, definitely. For example, Auggie in Queen of Likes plays the uke and my middle son plays the uke (quite well, actually). He’s a singer-songerwriter and he’s the one who plays the music in the book trailer for the book. He’s also the lead singer of the alt-rock band Secure the Sun, which gigs all around the Bay area. Karma’s little brother LOVES Legos and my youngest son also loves Legos, although now that he turned 11 his Lego days are much less frequent. He’s morphed into making funny Youtube videos.

What was the inspiration for your book?
Well, I noticed how my teen sons would discuss how many likes they were getting on, let’s say, Instagram (although with Instagram it’s hearts but it’s the same idea). And they’d be competitive about it. I realized how aware they were of how many likes were being generated and comparing themselves to others. And I went, aha—what if someone, a 12-year-old girl got really obsessed? What if she suddenly developed a lot of followers and her self-worth was all about how things were going on her social media account? And what if she posted things not because she liked them but because it would generate likes? How would she be affected if her parents took away her phone and cut off her social media accounts? Wow, I thought, now there’s a story!

What is your favorite spot to write?
In my office, for sure. I like to have an ergonomic set-up so I don’t develop any yucky writerly symptoms like carpal tunnel. And I’m one of those people who prefers to write in total silence. So no, play lists for me. Now, if I’m doing a writing exercise sometimes I like to take pen to paper, but in general I’m writing on my Mac in my office.

What advice would you give budding writers?
Read, read, read. Write regularly. Read craft books. Develop a support system by finding critique partners. Join writerly organizations. Read blogs like this! Take a writing class. I teach in a summer MFA program—Hollins University Graduate Program in Children’s Literature, Writing and Illustration, which I highly recommend. It’s six weeks every summer (all of July and the first two weeks of June). In addition, I teach online (interactive e-course) for the Children’s Book Academy. Another great spot for writing course! Also, write what you would like to read yourself.


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


  1. How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in fiction writing?

    1. It's really like any other career--it requires diligence and good organizational skills. The trick is making a living solely on advances. More authors supplement.

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

  3. I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  4. I still need to learn ukelele, but I love Legos even now!


    1. I love the ukulele but at this point I just appreciate it. Maybe someday I'll learn. Legos are always fun!

  5. Really great post - thanks for sharing :)

  6. I loved learning about your inspiration for writing this book.

  7. I love that you tackled the problem of teens and the 'devices.' I hate that you can't see a kid without their face in a phone. The next generation is likely to have no fingers.. just a much of thumbs! Best luck with you books.

    1. I know, Elaine. I have a feeling this generation will take things too far before finding balance.

  8. Oh this sounds like a GREAT read for my niece! Social media really has changed how teens grow up today vs when I was growing up.

    1. Oh, I'm so glad, Laura. I think it will be a helpful book for young teens and tweens for sure :)

  9. Good Morning and wishing you a wonderful Sunday. Thank you for this giveaway as well

  10. Thanks for both the excerpt and giveaway