Friday, October 2, 2015

Melanie Hooyenga - FIVE THINGS LEARNED

Author Melanie (Swiftney) Hooyenga talks about
Five Things Learned Writing Her Trilogy
and Her Writing Life
I've learned a lot about myself as a writer since I wrote my first novel eight years ago.
1. I Can't Force Words.
But I can insist very strongly that I write at least 100 words. While writing my first novel, I was part of an online group that had to write 100 words a day. 100 words is nothing. It's a paragraph. You can write it in five minutes. Coming up with an excuse for why I can't write for FIVE minutes was nearly impossible, so I would sit my butt down and write. More times than not I wrote more, but even that minimum word count keeps the story moving forward.
2. I Can't Force a Long Writing Session.
I've participated in NaNoWriMo three times (talk about forcing words!) and it's taught me that a) I can write 1000 words in 45 minutes when I'm on a roll but it's rare for me to write more than that. On days when it's not coming easily, I've learned to recognize when my body and mind can't handle sitting in front of the computer any longer. When I first started writing I'd force myself to sit there for another hour, but all that happened is I'd end my writing session feeling discouraged—no matter how much I wrote. Now I stop when I'm feeling antsy.
3. First Person Present Tense CAN Work.
And it's what I love to write. The first two novels I wrote were third person past tense and while it worked, it didn't ROCK. For me, being RIGHT INSIDE my character's head is where I prefer to be.
4. Seeing Your Manuscript Turn Into a Book is AMAZING.
If you're a writer, I don't need to tell you this, but seeing your book in published form is awesome. Finishing a first draft is a huge accomplishment, then editing, editing, editing.... so when you finally get to that point where others can BUY it, it's like a dream come true. But by the time it's published you're already writing the next one, so that awesomeness continues. It's like a book-bliss cycle!
5. The Writing Community Makes It All Worthwhile.
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but you can't write in a bubble. When I first started out, I joined Absolute Write and in between learning about the publishing industry and writing in general, I met the people who are my best friends today. Some people have supportive friends and family in their everyday lives, but not all writers are that lucky. Having a community—even if you rarely or never see each other in person—is crucial. Besides, who else will tell the world about your book?
Melanie Hooyenga is the author of the YA trilogy, the Flicker Effect, about a teen who uses sunlight to travel back to yesterday. When not at her day job as a writer/graphic designer, you can find her wrangling her 6-year old Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with her husband Jeremy.
Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to jump back to yesterday. She takes advantage of flickering by retaking Trig tests, fixing fights with her boyfriend (or reliving the making up), and repeating pretty much anything that could be done better. Trouble is, flickering makes her head explode from the inside. Or feel like it anyway.
No one knows about her freakish ability and she’s content to keep it that way. Guys don't stick around because she refuses to let them in, but all that changes when Cameron, her best friend, starts looking oh-so-yummy. Suddenly she's noticing his biceps, his smile, and the cute way his eyes crinkle when he—gah! This is her friend!
But the butterflies come to a screeching halt when little girls start disappearing, then take a nosedive when the police link the kidnappings to Cameron's sister, who vanished years earlier. As the police grasp for clues, Biz photographs a strange man lurking in the shadows and realizes that her flickering can help more than just herself.
When seventeen-year old Biz wakes up from surgery after helping catch a kidnapper, she thinks she’s lost her ability to flicker—travel back in time eighteen hours—but she soon discovers her ability is stronger than ever. And so are the mind-blowing headaches.
But flickering isn’t the only thing giving Biz headaches. Her newly shaved head brings out the bullies, her boyfriend Cameron is getting a little too chummy with a girl from the kidnap support group, and Cameron’s formerly kidnapped sister is having some serious adjustment issues.
When her dad’s health takes a turn for the worse, she turns to her neurosurgeon who operated on her. If she tells him the truth, he could figure out why she and her dad flicker and save her before her entire world—and her own health—crumbles. But can Biz trust him with her secret?
Biz didn’t think life could get worse after the tragic events that surrounded her last flicker, but when she accidentally flickers on her eighteenth birthday after doing shots of vodka—she’s forced to face the consequences of her actions in a way she never imagined.
When an anonymous email threatens to reveal her secret, Biz must decide if flickering is all it’s cracked up to be, or if she needs to stop. Forever.