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.
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.
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.
A Word From the Author
1.When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
I realized that I wanted to be a writer in second grade. My teacher, Mrs. McCrone, had a weekly newspaper which she printed every week filled with our stories. I loved having regular creative writing assignments and seeing my work in print. I remember Mrs. McCrone wrote on one of my papers—“You are a writer” and I internalized that. I remember thinking—wow, I’m a writer.
2.Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre that you write?
Oh, that’s so hard! I love so many authors who write upper middle grade fiction. But if I absolutely must say someone—it would have to be Judy Blume. I remember reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in fifth grade, and falling in love with that book. It felt so real and true. I also appreciated that the main character also pondered her own spirituality; it’s such a great book and her writing inspired me to want to write for the very same age group.
3.What are reading right now?
Right now on my bedside table, I have Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse. It’s a young adult science fiction novel that’s so fresh and intelligent. It’s a multi-voiced text and jumps forward in time and yet the characters are also connected. Super cool!
4.Which one of your characters is most like you?
I would say Karma Cooper, who’s the protagonist of my new novel Queen of Likes. Karma isn’t a natural extrovert and yet she loves the attention that her writing gives her (well, her posts actually on her social media site). I’m an extroverted introvert and I also enjoy all of the social interaction and sense of community I find through my books. On my own, I’m sort of shy. But if I have a story to present to the world, I’ll suddenly seeking connection and, yes, affirmation, even though I know that you true-self-validation comes from within and that if you seek it outside of yourself it will be an endless pursuit.
5.Which of your books is your favorite? Why?
Naturally, I have to say, Queen of Likes. I think it honestly deals with an issue of our time--the need for self-approbation through social media. When I post something, I often check to see how many likes that I’m up to,and yet whether I get five likes or 50, in the end, I don’t take any of it that seriously. I know that the number of likes I get isn’t some measure of my worth. But tweens are in a different place. My 12-year- old protagonist, Karma Cooper, actually sees the number of likes as a measure of her worth. I think is something worth talking about with kids—as they often have multiple social media accounts—when they are as young as 10. I think this book will be entertaining but it will also start some dialogue tweens and their parents about social media.
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 at www.hillaryhomzie.com and follow her on
Twitter @HillaryHomzie and visit her on
Queen of Likes buy Links:
Hillary Homzie will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Use the link below to enter.