HOW TO BE POPULAR sneak peek

July 14th, 2006

It's here!


The HOW TO BE POPULAR sneak peek!!!

HOW TO BE POPULAR is about a girl named Steph Landry, who–due to an unfortunate incident involving a Big Red Super Big Gulp and the white denim skirt of the most popular girl in town, Lauren Moffatt–has been a social outcast for most of her teen years. In fact, whenever anyone in town does something particularly stupid or bone-headed, they are accused of “pulling a Steph.”

Now, however, Steph has found an old book called HOW TO BE POPULAR. It's not a magic book…necessarily. But it might actually have more power than Steph thinks. Especially when, by following the instructions in The Book, Steph finds she's able to get what she's always wanted…a place on the A-List.

But how will Steph's true friends feel when she's left them behind, and is partying with the In Crowd? And what happens when Steph finds out that becoming popular? It's a cinch. What isn't easy?

Staying that way.

Here's an exclusive excerpt from

HOW TO BE POPULAR in US stores July 25

From The Book:

Wait! Your hair and wardrobe may be perfect, but your makeover's not complete without this:

The one thing you can wear this or any season that's always going to be in style and look great is confidence.

Having confidence in yourself is the one accessory no one can afford to leave at home.

People are naturally drawn to leaders, and leaders are those who have confidence in themselves.

Monday, August 28, 9AM

D-Day

“Good morning, Crazyt—What happened to you?” is what Jason said, when I climbed into the backseat of The B this morning.

“Nothing,” I said, innocently, as I closed the door. We'd moved on from the 1977 compilation mixed CD, I realized immediately, when the sounds of the Rolling Stones assailed me. “Why? Is something wrong?”

“What happened to your hair?” Jason wanted to know. He actually turned around in his seat, as opposed to just looking at my reflection in the rear view mirror.

“Oh, this?” I pulled on my bangs, to make sure they were hanging sexily in front of one eye, the way Christoffe had meant them to. They were. “I just used a flat iron, is all.”

“I think it looks nice,” Becca said, indignantly, from the front passenger seat.

“Thank you, Becca,” I said.

Jason was still twisted around, staring at me, as Mick Jagger bemoaned the fact that he couldn't get any satisfaction.

“What kind of SOCKS are those?” Jason demanded.

“Thigh-highs,” I explained, patiently.

Although inside, I was wondering if I'd made a mistake. All the teen magazines had insisted sheer thigh-highs were THE must have for fall.

But judging from Jason's face, I might just as well have been wearing clown shoes.

“I think they look nice,” Becca said, from the front seat.

“Is your skirt short enough?” Jason asked me, looking strangely red in the face. Especially since my skirt was strictly mini, not micro-mini. I wondered if maybe Jason's mom had made him eat hot oatmeal for breakfast. It always upsets him when she does this, something she tries on the first day of school every year. She puts raisins in it, too. Nothing disconcerts Jason more than raisins, who had an unpleasant experience involving one and his right nostril when he was three.

“That's the style,” I said, shrugging.

“Since when do you care what's in style?” Jason practically shouted.

“Wow, thanks a lot,” I said, pretending to be offended. “I didn't mean to try to look nice for the first day of school, or anything.”

“I think she looks great,” Becca said.

But Jason wasn't falling for it.

“What is this about, Crazytop?” he asked, as he put the car in gear. “What's the plan?”

“There's no plan,” I insisted. “And you can't call me Crazytop anymore, since my hair isn't curly right now.”

“I'll call you Crazytop anytime I damn well want to,” Jason said, crankily. “Now what's the deal?”

No matter how much I assured him that there was no deal (even though, of course, there very much was one), Jason didn't believe me.

And when we pulled into the student parking lot at school, right behind a certain red convertible, and watched as Lauren Moffat emerged from it, Jason seemed to reach a boiling point.

“She's wearing those same socks!” he cried—fortunately while we were still inside the car, so Lauren didn't hear him.

I looked and saw with some relief that the teen magazines had been right…sheer thigh-highs were in. At least, they were if Lauren Moffat was wearing them.

Only Lauren's thigh-highs, unlike mine, which were navy blue, were white.

This was a blatant violation of one of The Book's strictest fashion mandates, which is that white stockings—even sheer ones—are fine only if you're a nurse, since pale colors have a tendency to make legs look larger than they actually are.

It was true, I saw, as Lauren, her cell phone glued to her ear, hurried across the parking lot. Her normally shapely legs looked big as an elephant's. Well, more or less.

“What is the world coming to?” Jason wanted to know, as we dragged ourselves to Bloomville High's back entrance (our first time using it, since in years previous, we'd been dropped off in front of the building by our bus). “When Steph Landry and Lauren Moffat are dressing alike?”

“We're hardly dressed alike,” I pointed out, pulling on the door handle. “I mean, she's wearing a micro-mini, and mine's just–”

But I didn't get a chance to finish, since my words were immediately swallowed up by the din that greeted us inside the school. Combination dials spun. Locker doors slammed. Girls who hadn't seen each other since school ended last spring let out piercing shrieks and hugged one another. Guys high-fived other guys. Teachers stood in the doorways to their classrooms, clutching steaming mugs of coffee and gossiping with other teachers. Vice-Principal Maura Wampler—or Swampy Wampler, as she was commonly referred to–was standing in front of the administrative offices, fruitlessly yelling for people to “Get to your homeroom! Get to your homeroom before the late bell! You don't want a detention your first day, do you, people?”

“Sit by you at the welcome back convocation?” Becca screamed at me above the chaos.

“See you then,” I screamed back.

“I'm not through with you, Crazytop,” Jason assured me, as he reached his locker, and I had to keep going in order to get to mine. “Something's up with you, and I'm going to find out what it is!”

I couldn't help laughing at that one. “Good luck,” I called to him, and hurried on without him.

As I got closer to my locker, things seemed to get quieter. Which is actually impossible, because my locker happens to be located at a point in the school where two main hallways intersect. There's a girls' bathroom AND a drinking fountain next to my locker, not to mention the doors leading downstairs to the cafeteria. Normally, this is the loudest corner of the school.

But today, for some reason, the hall seemed strangely hushed as I walked down it. And not, as I would have liked to think, because I looked so stunning in my new wardrobe and haircut, everyone was shocked into silence, like when Drew Barrymore showed
up at the ball in her angel outfit in the movie Ever After.

Actually, it was probably just as loud as usual. Things just SEEMED like they
got quieter.

And that's because Mark Finley had entered my line of vision.

Mark's locker is across the hall from mine. He was standing there, talking to some of the other guys from the football team, as I walked by. In his purple and white jersey, he looked tanned and rested, his light brown hair bleached gold in a few places from all the time he'd spent out at the lake this past summer. Even his hazel eyes seemed brighter against the sun-darkened skin of his cheeks.

I, of course, couldn't take my eyes off him. Well, what girl could?

And with that kind of vision standing in front of me, was it really any wonder that I failed to notice that Lauren Moffat and her fellow Dark Ladies of the Sith, Alyssa Krueger and Bebe Johnson, were standing by the drinking fountain, staring at me?

“What,” Lauren asked, her gaze going from the top of my insouciant, gaminesque head, to the round-toes of my platform Mary Janes, “are YOU supposed to be?”

Fortunately just last night I read the section of The Book revolving around jealousy, so I knew just what to do.

“Oh, hi, Lauren,” I said, plastering a sunny smile on my face. “Did you have a nice summer?”

Lauren looked incredulously from Alyssa to Bebe, then back at me.

“Excuse me?” she said.

“Your summer.” I hoped they couldn't see how badly my fingers were shaking as I twisted the combination to my locker. “How was it? Good, I hope. Did your mom like the books?”

Lauren's jaw dropped. I could tell I'd thrown her. See, most of our previous interactions—since the Super Big Gulp incident, anyway—had been like the one we'd had on Saturday night. Lauren says something mean to me, and I respond by saying…nothing.

The fact that this time I was responding—and in a manner that made it clear I refused to let her bait me—had her gears shifting into overdrive.

“I certainly hope so,” I said.

Lauren's blue-glazed eyelids narrowed. “What?” she asked, sounding irritated.

“That your mom enjoyed the books she bought from our store,” I said.

At that moment—thank GOD—the bell rang. I slammed my locker door shut, shouldered my new designer bag, and said, “Well, see you at the convo,” and hurried down the hall….

…right past Mark Finley.

Who, I couldn't help noticing, had been looking in my direction, either because he'd noticed my interaction with his girlfriend, or—even though I knew this was too much to hope for. Still, The Book said optimism is crucial for any successful social venture—he was taking in my sheer thigh-highs.

Either way, our gazes met as I hurried by.

I smiled, and said, “Hi, Mark. Hope you had a good summer.”

They were the first words I'd ever spoken to Mark Finley in my life.

And I think they had the desired effect. Because as I breezed past him, I heard him go, “Who was that?” and heard Lauren hiss, “That was Steph Landry.”

Oh, yeah. I'd pulled a Steph, all right.

And for the first time in my life, I felt GREAT about it.

Look for HOW TO BE POPULAR in U.S. stores on July 25.

More later.

Much love,

Meg