In celebration of this week’s release of my new tween novel, Stealing Popular 
(Simon and Schuster/Aladdin MIX) I’m giving away a signed copy of the book! Hang on for complete details on how you can enter to win. 

This month, we are chatting about misconceptions people have about writers, which is a perfect tie-in to my new release. It amuses me when students assume a book spills out of my head onto the page in blissful, perfect form. Uh, no. This may happen for some writers, though I have yet to meet such a supremely talented being and if I did I am sure he/she would confess of having sold their soul to Satan for said gift. No. For me, there are months of wrangling, revising, second-guessing, carpet-pacing, more revising, and an ever-present supply of medicinal chocolate involved in my journey from first page to last. I do a bare bones outline when I am working on a book because, like taking a cross-country trip, I need to know where I am going in order to arrive at my destination. For the most part, though, when I sit down at the computer each morning I let my head and heart guide me. I never quite know what a character will say or do, which is what makes writing so exhilarating. My style can be summed up by a quote attributed to Ragtime author, E.L. Doctorow: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Writing ‘with the flow’ may mean there's a good chance the idea I planned on executing blossoms in a different way than I had anticipated. That was definitely the case with my new novel.

Stealing Popular is told by twelve-year-old Coco Sherwood, a budding artist and on-the-move Navy brat, who is tired of seeing the same social injustices occur at every school she attends. When Coco, finally, makes some friends at a new school and that old, familiar demon ‘popularity’ rears its snarling head, she decides to take action. Coco turns the tables on the popular clique, taking from the "Somebodies" and giving to the "Nobodies." Suddenly, girls who’d barely been noticed in the past are making cheer staff and morphing into prom royalty. But when Coco dares go up against Dijon Randle, the most popular girl in school, it could mean sacrificing the artistic opportunity of a lifetime as well as one of her best friends. 

I had originally planned for the book to be a light-hearted look at the tug-of-war that goes on as we jostle for position in middle school; sort of a twist on the legend of Robin Hood. Naturally, when you’re writing for this age group, you can’t help but re-visit your own childhood experiences. I wasn’t at the top of the middle school food chain, that’s for sure. I had unruly hair and big glasses. I was also an ‘early developer,’ as my mom used to say, which meant height and curves and a little extra weight. A voracious reader and budding musician, I lugged my mammoth supply of library books, clarinet, and saxophone around on a luggage cart (seriously). I remember that many of the digs from other kids stung me, even those that were tossed out as a joke. As I was working on my ‘light-hearted’ manuscript, some of that old pain surfaced. I knew I had to honestly deal with the way little insults can slowly erode a young person’s fragile self-esteem or the book would suffer. Fortunately, when I was Coco's age, I had a core group of friends that supported me and kept me smiling through the tough times. For the first time in her life, Coco has that, too, and she comes to realize just how powerful the bond of friendship can be.

Here’s the book trailer, produced by high school film student, Adam McArthur.

So to the outside world, who sees my book only when it is as shiny and pretty as I can possibly make it, it may seem as if the story comes so easily. But you know the truth. Some of the time, okay, most of the time, the book I write is the result of a chain of little, delightful, daily surprises. And a whole lot of chocolate.

To read an excerpt from the book, click HERE to go to the Simon and Schuster website (if you make a purchase through S&S, you'll receive 20% off the retail price).
 *  *  *  BOOK GIVE-AWAY  *  *  *
The book give-away officially ended on Sept. 18, 2012.
And the winner is: Leane G.
Congratulations, Leane, and thanks to everyone who entered!


  1. This looks really cute!
    Jpetroroy at gmail dot com

    1. Thanks so much! You are entered in the contest. Good luck!

  2. I just read and loved NO GIRLS ALLOWED. Thanks for the opportunity to win your latest. ^_^ yascribe.angelina(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Thanks, Angelina, for reading No Girls Allowed! You are entered in the contest! Good luck.

  3. Wow - a "Robin Hood" like middle school novel. Very interesting. I have a "book nook" club of middle school students and this is the kind of book we like to read and discuss. Sounds great - thanks for writing about being in the middle! ms (dot) dorie at yahoo (dot) com

    1. Thanks so much! Enjoy your book club this year (book clubs are so much fun). You're entered in the contest. Good luck!


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