Friday, November 4, 2016

Excerpt and Giveaway: I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil @GretchenMcNeil #GretchenMcNeil #ImNotYourManicPixieDreamGirl


 photo Pixie Cover_zpswe1akkxn.jpgFrom acclaimed author Gretchen McNeil comes her first realistic contemporary romance—perfect for fans of Kody Keplinger’s The Duff and Morgan Matson’s Since You've Been Gone.

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine.


Excerpt:
We met in Spencer’s studio bright and early the next morning for one last strategy session before we unleashed our new personae on Fullerton Hills. It was a bold move we were about to make, and everything had to be just right. I’d outlined our new roles, including the most minute details of wardrobe, attitude, vocabulary, even the way we carried ourselves. The more I thought about the Formula, the more I was convinced it was going to work. 
(1) Find the niche. 
(2) Play the role. 
(3) Fill the void. 
GABE 

(1) Find the niche: The article on Coach Summers aside, Gabe’s issues with the jocktocracy at Fullerton Hills had nothing to do with his homosexuality (I doubt Milo and Thad even knew he was gay) and everything to do with the fact that he was an attention-seeking smart-ass who didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut. Of course, I liked that attention-seeking smart-ass, but we needed to find a way to make his one-liners and subtle cutdowns more socially appropriate. Embraced, even. How? Keep the snark, and add a dose of gay stereotype. 

(2) Play the role: Instead of baggy cargo shorts and flannel shirts, Gabe’s new wardrobe was colorfully nerd chic with a hint of retro flamboyant. He wore a slim-fitting blue plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up crisply so they hit just above his elbows. The collar was buttoned to the neck and affixed with a burgundy clip-on bow tie. His blue jeans were also tightly fitted, cuffed at the ankle to reveal a pair of white loafers he’d borrowed from his mom, and instead of a belt he wore a pair of dark blue suspenders. He had also slicked his usually messy hair up into a tightly coiffed pompadour with a pair of white heart-shaped sunglasses perched gingerly on top.  

(3) Fill the void: Fullerton Hills lacked an outspoken gay best friend. Gabe would be the cool, hip new thing, a fabulous accessory to Cassilyn’s clique, and she and her fashion-conscious friends should fall all over themselves to befriend him. Popularity was all about trendsetting, and Gabe would be the hottest trend of all.  And he’d get something out of it too. This would be the ultimate test of his journalistic prowess—a full-immersion undercover assignment, the opportunity to view high school social hierarchy from the top down and dissect how something as simple as changing one’s appearance and attitude could affect their role within it. That’s the kind of article that the Orange County Register would pounce on. 
SPENCER 

(1) Find the niche: Fullerton Hills High School lacked a resident artiste. So we’d give them one. 

(2) Play the role: Instead of trying to hide Spencer’s predilection for painting and drawing, we’d highlight it. He already had the clothes, and his newly acquired Euro-cool attitude. We just had to put them to good use. 

(3) Fill the void: How does an artist gain cachet in the typical American high school? From the top down. In the case of our sport-crazed campus, Spencer was going to offer up his painting skills in the name of school spirit, creating portraits of Fullerton Hills’s fastest, strongest, and most skilled athletes—the very douche bags who wanted to kick his ass. The jocktocracy would love seeing themselves immortalized on canvas, and though, as Spencer whined last night via text, painting sportsball portraits was going to destroy his soul, he would be honing his portraiture skills in the process. 

Spencer may have been loath to admit it, but he needed this push. Despite some amazing feedback from a few gallery owners downtown, Spencer had very little confidence in his art. Which was why he hated letting his friends see any of it. Doing portraits for the A-list would force him to be more public about his art and boost his confidence while simultaneously bulking up his portfolio. If he was going to apply to art schools for next year, he was going to need both. 
BEATRICE 

(1) Find the niche: Gabe had told me a million times that if I just agreed to nurse the mean girls through algebra, I wouldn’t be such an outcast. Even Jesse had realized that if I embraced this as my “thing,” I’d have a surefire way to fit in. I’d been fighting against the label of Math Girl since freshman year, but maybe it was time to own it. 

(2) Play the role: I had the easiest transformation. I was already a know-it-all math genius. Didn’t really need to change anything there. The hardest part for me would be actually talking to my new client base without disdain radiating from every pore. Maybe not so easy after all. 

(3) Fill the void: All I had to do was swallow my pride and offer my services as a math tutor. Free of charge. They might not like or accept me, but they definitely needed me. And as with Gabe and Spencer, it wasn’t like I’d get nothing out of the experience. Spencer’s comment about the MIT scholarship had lit a fuse. The Formula was the perfect research: mathematics and information theory applied to everyday life. I could chronicle how the Formula worked for us, and present a surefire proof of my equation. “Math Girl” may have made me cringe, but it was 
going to be my ticket to MIT. 

I smiled at my friends, standing before me in their new skins. Even the combative glint in Spencer’s eyes was somehow perfectly in character. This was totally going to work. 

“This isn’t going to work,” Spencer said.  

“Of course it will,” I snapped.  

“I look like an eighties gay stereotype on glitter rainbow crack,” Gabe said. 

“You look fabulous,” I said. “Now, did you come up with a catchphrase like we discussed?” 

Based on my research, a catchphrase was of vital importance to any over-the-top character. 

“Yeah, how’s this?” Gabe fanned his hands on either side of his face like Judy Garland in A Star Is Born. “Zoopa!” He dropped his hands to explain. “It’s like ‘super’ with a highly affected German accent.” 

I gave him a thumbs-up. “And what are you going to say when you see Cassilyn in the halls today?” 

Gabe took a deep breath. “Oh em gee, Cassilyn! I’m so glad you went with the Michael Kors over the Tory Burch! That bitch is so last spring.”  

It was disturbingly perfect. 

Spencer was also impeccably in character. He’d followed my instructions and put together the most emotastic outfit possible. Black boot-cut jeans over a pair of heavily buckled motorcycle boots. On top, a black V-neck T-shirt and a distressed pin-striped jacket, and even though he stood before me with his hands shoved into his pockets, trying with all his might to throw me some shade, he still looked like the epitome of a brooding, mysterious artist. 
As for me, I hadn’t changed much. I’d pulled my long wavy hair into a high ponytail, and instead of my contacts, I’d fished an old pair of cat-eye glasses out of a drawer. I certainly looked like a nerdy Math Girl, which, let’s face it, wasn’t that much of a stretch.  

“I don’t like this,” Spencer said for like the fortieth time that day.  

“I don’t like it either,” I said. Which was partially true. I wasn’t much of a fashionista, but I cringed at the idea of Jesse seeing me in all my nerd glory. “But we have to focus on the positives. Gabe gets his article. You get a portfolio. I get a scholarship. And we all get a break from the daily bullying.” 

“Dahlings.” Gabe sailed forward and whisked his shoulder bag off the floor with a ballerina’s grace. “Let’s go show Fullerton Hills what we’re made of.” 
Excerpted from I'M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL © Copyright 2016 by Gretchen McNeil. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the Author

 photo GretchenMcNeil_Headshot-683x1024_zpsglrt5byk.jpgGretchen McNeil is an opera singer, a writer, and a clown. She is also the author of Get Even as well as Ten, which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and an ALA Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth and was nominated for Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012 by Romantic Times. Gretchen blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels.

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