grow up cupcake

coming soon
grow up cupcake
by becoming someone she's not, she discovers who she is

After standing up to a bully, Annie's classmates convince her to run for Student Council President.  But when the bully joins the race the campaign trail gets bumpy.  Now Annie must decide if the election is her One Big Chance to be somebody, or if she should risk following her heart down a different path.


On the board, in neat writing, Mrs. Owens has started a list:  Fair.  Decisive.  Dependable.
     “This is a list of traits I think a president should have.  What are some traits that you think are important?”
     Bill raises his hand.  “The President should be smart.”
     Mrs. Owens writes “smart” on the board.  “Good.  What else?”  The room is quiet.  We wait.
     “Come on class.  What other traits would make someone a good president?  Call them out.”
     “He should be strong like a super hero.”  Jonah, who loves comic books, speaks up.
     Val says, “She should be a good friend.”
     I glance at Val and smile.
     Mrs. Owens laughs.  “Yes, the President can be a boy or a girl.  Good.”  She writes their answers on the board.
     Soon lots of kids are yelling out stuff.  The list includes:

be funny
not be sick a lot
be a good reader
be a good listener
know how to solve problems

     I feel like I’m a lot of those things.  Maybe not that great at problem-solving, but I’m working on it.
     As Mrs. Owens finishes the list she asks us if anyone’s thinking about running for Student Council President.  The room falls into silence again.  I don’t dare look around.  I don’t want to catch Greg or Val giving me some look.
     Then Mrs. Owens calls on Rebecca.
     “I’m going to run for President, Mrs. Owens.”
     Of course she is.  What a surprise.
     “Great, Rebecca.  Is there anyone else?”
     I stare down at my desk, and I hear Mrs. Owens call on Jordan.
     “I don’t want to run for President, Mrs. Owens, but I know someone who should,” Jordan says.
     “Oh.  Who is it, Jordan?”
     “Annie.  Annie Gainer should run for President.”
     The room splits open with voices.  I look around—probably with my mouth gaping open—while kids tell Mrs. Owens the reasons I could be a good president.  Steven Hunter leans across the aisle and claps me on the back.  Mary Ross is sitting back with a grin so large her mouth seems to stretch from ear to ear.  My chest feels warm and my hands, sweaty.  The faces and words are a blur, but I’m smiling, I know that.  And Mrs. Owens is smiling, too.
     Nobody else speaks up about wanting to run, and soon we’re talking about what an election is all about.  People are giving Rebecca and me advice about what to do, what not to do.  I can feel myself nodding, like a dumb, happy puppet.  Even if I could remember how to form words, I don’t know what I’d say because suddenly I’m all those things written on the board.  I’m smart, a good listener.  And it’s clear that I’ve broken out and become spectacular, just like I wanted.

backstory for grow up cupcake

Behind every story is what writers call the backstory.  The backstory contains the first glimpses of the character, plot, and setting, and most of these bits come from the writer's own life experience and interests.  For me, backstory isn't just what has happened before the story starts, but also all the things, real and imaginary, that influence the novel's beginning, middle, and end.  Below you can find a portion of the backstories that informed each of my books.

When Cupcake (Annie) started revealing her story to me, she was concerned that people wouldn’t understand her.  She’s a sixth grader growing up in the 80s and everywhere she turns she’s facing important decisions.  In some cases, she goes to her sisters for advice.  At other times, she asks her parents for help.  The real story here is that the situations she finds herself in are crossing over from PG to PG-13, and she’s trying to handle herself with a level of maturity and grace that she hasn’t yet mastered.

At some point every kid comes across something that’s a smidge out of their league and considered “bad”.  It’ll happen in the midst of all the other stuff that’s going on with school and friends and sports and clubs.  With Grow Up Cupcake, I didn’t want to shy away from how those rough moments affect everyday life.  The story is candid, but funny and sweet. 

The struggle that goes on between innocence and experience in kids’ lives has existed across time.  The circumstances may be different, but whether the time period is the 1930s, the 1980s, or present day, all kids are on a steady climb up the ladder of reality.  And really, we never stop climbing.