PROJECT ME 2.0 by Jan Gangsei + Giveaway

Today we’re thrilled to welcome Jan Gangsei, whose newest middle-grade novel was released this week from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. She’s here to tell us all about PROJECT ME 2.0 and her journey to its publication. Plus, she has generously offered to send one lucky reader an autographed copy of the novel. A winner will be chosen at random from those who comment below by midnight Wednesday. (U.S. only please.) Don’t miss your chance to win! Read the interview and let us know your thoughts at the bottom of this page!

But first, here’s a little bit about Jan and PROJECT ME 2.0.

Jan Gangsei writes fast-paced thrillers and humor with heart for teens and tweens. Her debut novel, ZERO DAY, a political thriller set in Washington, DC, was published in 2016 by Disney-Hyperion and has been named to several state award and reading lists. She’s also the author of THE WILD BUNCH (S&S/Aladdin, 2017) and nearly a dozen middle grade novels written for book packagers under pen names and published in multiple languages and countries. Jan was one of the founding members of the MUF blog, and she’s thrilled to be back here today as a guest!


An eleven-year-old boy on a quest to impress his suddenly cute, longtime friend accidentally manifests a tiny internet guru into existence in this hilarious MAX novel!

All class clown Farley Andrew Turner (yes, that spells FAT) wanted the summer before seventh grade was to give his image a little boost . . . and maybe, just maybe, impress his oldest pal, whom he has a secret crush on.

But when Farley accidentally manifests a tiny internet guru into existence (think genie, but far more annoying and without any ability whatsoever to grant wishes), his entire plan goes sideways.

Now, in order to rid himself of the four-inch tall pest spouting ridiculous self-help advice and doing yoga on his mouse pad, Farley must complete all “Seven Steps to a Whole New You!”—no matter how embarrassing they may be. Which is how Farley finds himself outfitted in too-small spandex and suffering through daily jogs with his super-athletic dad, attempting to read WAR AND PEACE, and agreeing to play toy guitar in his best friend Burt’s newly formed off-pitch boy band. Unfortunately, it only goes downhill from there . . .  But hey, no one ever claimed the path to enlightenment would be easy, did they?

1. What was the inspiration behind PROJECT ME 2.0?

It started with a character — Farley! And to be quite honest, I’m not exactly sure what caused him to pop into my brain. But one day, there he was — and I had to figure out what to do with him. At the time, I was an unagented, unpublished author-hopeful. So in retrospect, I think I felt a lot like Farley — wanting to be taken seriously, trying to figure out how to be “better” and get noticed. Farley’s story just sort of evolved from there. (Also, I like to laugh and I was cracking myself up as I wrote, so I guess I was having fun, too!)

2. What was your road to publishing this book like?

It was long! (And winding and occasionally bumpy with a few detours . . .!) I actually wrote the first draft of PROJECT ME 2.0 (aka “The Farley Project”) nearly ten years ago. It was the book that landed me my wonderful agent, Sarah Davies, back in 2010. But it didn’t land me a publisher straight away. Instead, I wound up writing several other books. But Farley always stuck with me, and a couple of years ago inspiration hit: what if the self-help guru guiding Farley on his quest to improve himself actually popped out of his computer and wouldn’t go away until Farley completed ALL of his very embarrassing self-help plan? (Pretty much the opposite of a wish-granting genie!) I revised the story, it went off on submission, sold to Simon & Schuster, and now after ten years is a real book! So yeah, long! But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I think it’s actually a much better story now than the one I wrote all those years ago!

3. That’s a really inspirational story of perseverance. You’ve done such a great job tackling a tween boy voice, what is your secret?

Thank you! Honestly, I’m not quite sure, but when I go to write I often find myself channeling the voice of a tween boy. I’m guessing it’s just that I’ve had a lot of boy influences in my life — from my brother who was my best friend growing up, to my son, and my husband who is the source of at least 90% of my fart jokes (please don’t tell him I said that, haha ;)!

4. What kind of research did you have to do for PROJECT ME 2.0?

Just the spy-on-your-kids sort of research all children’s authors are guilty of . . . (please don’t tell them I said that, either ;)!

5. What was the hardest part about writing PROJECT ME 2.0?

Stopping, probably. I mean, the book is out and in print, and I’m still dreaming up ridiculous scenarios for Farley and Tomy (his self-help guru) to get into, and wanting to revise random lines!

6. Do you have a favorite writing tip you can share with us?

Be yourself! That’s really the message behind Project Me 2.0, and the one that has resonated most with me as I’ve grown as an author. Everyone has their own unique stories to tell — and their own unique ways to tell them, so don’t compare yourself to other people. I know I’ve picked up books — especially those that tackle heavy-hitting topics and win awards — and have felt a combination of awe at the writing, and a tinge sadness that I don’t write like that. But then I remind myself — it’s okay, I write like *me*! And if I can make a kid laugh or have them on the edge of their seat, or just put a smile on their face, I’ve done something worthwhile. So don’t worry about being the “next big so-and-so” . . . be YOU! Find your own voice as an author and let it shine through!

That’s great advice, Jan! Thanks so much for joining us here at MUF today! Readers: be sure and comment below for a chance to win an autographed copy of PROJECT ME 2.0!

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Dorian Cirrone
Dorian Cirrone's most recent middle-grade novel is the award-winning,THE FIRST LAST DAY. She has published several books for children and teens. Visit her at
  1. I know that my seventh graders would love this!

  2. Oh, this sounds like so much fun! I can’t wait to introduce Farley and his guru to my middle schooler!

  3. It sounds like a fun read!

  4. Sounds like a book we need for our MS library! ?❤️?

  5. Hello! I enjoyed this interview so much. I am trying to write and have found myself frustrated that I don’t “write” like some I read…but I love your advice about being you. Thank you.

  6. This book sounds unique to any middle grade book I’ve read. It’s definitely a must read for me. The guru does sound fun too.

  7. Sounds like a fun read!

  8. Love those eleven-year-old tweeners, boys or not. I never tire of author’s publishing stories. Congratulations in honoring Farley’s nudging insistence.

  9. This sounds so great, I love the trying new things aspect of it as well as a tiny internet guru sounds hilarious