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Napa author debuts ‘Pumpkin Spice Secrets’ for tweens

October 19, 2017 GMT

Hillary Homzie, the Napa author of books for young people, said she will have plenty of pumpkin spice goodies at the launch of her newest book, “Pumpkin Spice Secrets,” at Copperfield’s in Napa on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2-4 p.m.

She will also be reading from her book on Oct. 28 at Bookmine at Oxbow Public Market.

“Pumpkin Spice Secrets” is the inaugural book in Sky Pony’s new Swirl line for tween girls.

It centers on 12-year-old Maddie, a bench warmer on her soccer team, who always plays second fiddle to her best friend, Jana. When Maddie spills her pumpkin spice latte on a cute boy — talk about mortifying — he turns out to be a good sport, friendly and easy-going. Maddie falls deeply in crush, but before she can tell Jana about him at lunch the next day, Jana announces her huge new crush — on Jacob, the same boy.

Maddie doesn’t want to cause trouble, so she keeps her feelings hidden. Jana will get over him soon, right?

Sometimes, secrets are not so sweet.

Homzie’s entertaining read reflects middle school friendship challenges, especially learning how to communicate and stand up for yourself.

“It was a lot of fun to write, since I was definitely like Maddie — not very good at standing up for myself at 12 or speaking about my feelings,” Homzie said. “In fact, it’s taken me a long time to figure that part out. Frankly, I’m still working on it.”

Homzie said one element of her new book that she hopes will be inspiring to girls is that Maddie discovers she actually likes to debate, much to her amazement, because she doesn’t like public speaking or rather she thought she didn’t. It’s her participation in debate that spurs her growth and shows her a way to speak frankly to her friend.

“One of the greatest things I did in high school was to participate in forensics and debating team,” Homzie said. “It gave me, a shy kid, more tools, and I learned how to present information, which definitely helped bolster my ego. I definitely want to encourage girls to speak up, speak out. And yes, have fun.”

Booklist has said of Homzie’s writing for tween girls that she “captures the angst of young teen friendships and fragile identities.”

Common Sense Media says of Homzie’s writing, “paints a vivid picture of contemporary middle school life and the social/romantic life of tweens, especially the challenge of maintaining lasting friendships among girls.”

Homzie is also the author of “Queen of Likes,” “The Hot List” and “Things Are Gonna Get Ugly,” as well as the comedic chapter book series “Alien Clones from Outer Space,” which is being made into an animated television series.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are,” she said. “You always remember your middle school experience. I love to write about this age because it was so life-altering for me. Yes, all I ever learned, I learned in middle school.”

Learn more about Hillary Homzie and “Pumpkin Spice Secrets” at www.hillaryhomzie.com.