Friday, 17 April 2015


Title: Flicker
Series: The Flicker Effect
Author: Melanie Hooyenga
Release Date: 13th November 2012

BLURB from Goodreads
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.

Goodreads Link


Title: Fracture
Series: The Flicker Effect
Author: Melanie Hooyenga
Release Date: 24th June 2014

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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?

Goodreads Link


Title: Faded
Series: The Flicker Effect
Author: Melanie Hooyenga
Release Date: 9th June 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
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.


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
 Hi! My name is Melanie Swiftney, but I write under my maiden name, Melanie Hooyenga. I was born and raised in Michigan, but have lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico. Now I live in Grand Haven, Michigan, an adorable town on the coast of Lake Michigan.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I started writing stories in elementary school, then added poetry, song lyrics, and  short stories in middle and high school. I was rather boy crazy at that age and wrote a lot of romances—I often joke I supplied PG-smut to my friends. After college I didn’t start writing again until my mid-thirties; since then I’ve written five novels and am currently working on my sixth.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
 Not until I published my second novel, Fracture. Because I self-published the first book in my series, Flicker, I struggled with feeling like I still wasn’t a real writer. But by 2014, self-publishing had become more mainstream and I figured two novels definitely made me a legitimate writer.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
 Yes, because I attempted the traditional route first. Over eighteen months, half a dozen agents read my full manuscript, but they all eventually passed. I’d only ever received good feedback so I decided my options were to let it stay in my computer, or self-publish and let others read it. Once I decided on the latter, it only took a couple months to make it happen.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
 Yes, I’ve been a graphic designer for almost 20 years. I also have a book cover design business called Ink Slinger Designs. I’m not currently designing covers (because I’m focusing on my writing) but someday I hope to start it back up again.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Flicker tells the story of Biz, a 17-year old girl who uses sunlight to travel back to yesterday.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Because I have a full-time day job, my average for a first draft is about six months. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo several times, which definitely helps with a faster output, but I credit my progress on a fairly detailed outline.
What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
 I don’t see myself straying from YA, but the book I’m currently working on is lighter than the Flicker Effect series. It’s more of a romance with (what I hope is) a lot of humor.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
 Encouragement from my writing friends! My first two novels (which are safely tucked away in my computer) were for an adult audience, but both had teenage protagonists. It took a gentle suggestion from a beta reader that maybe I should rewrite the second novel as young adult for me to even consider it, and once I started writing Flicker I knew I’d found my genre.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
 I really struggle with ideas. I’m very analytical and need to know how a book ends before I can even consider writing it, something my more carefree writer friends tease me about. Flicker came to me while driving to see my grandmother in the hospital. The sunlight was flickering through the trees, making a strobe-light effect, and I thought ‘what if there’s a girl and when this happens, she goes back in time 18 hours?’. My current MS is focused on skiing. Michigan had a ridiculous amount of snow in the winter of 2014, plus I watched a lot of the Olympics, and an idea was born.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
 I believe it’s crucial to get feedback on your writing, and I’ve established a solid base of beta readers. My friend Nadine and my mom always get my first draft. My mom is a master proofreader and catches all my silly inconsistencies, while Nadine points out where I need to expand or cut. Next is my editor, who REALLY tears it apart. For the third draft I have a small group of writers, plus a teenager or two, who I rely on for additional perspective. Then my mom does a final proofread and it’s off to the presses!
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
 As writers, there’s a rule that you don’t respond to bad reviews, no matter how ridiculous or cruel they are. I’ve been fortunate that the majority of my reviews have been positive, but I did have one reader give it a low rating on Amazon because she didn’t like “all the murders.” The funny thing is, no one dies in the book. She clearly didn’t read the entire thing—plus I know not everyone will like what I write—so I look at that as another accomplishment in the writing process. Bad review: check!
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
 Flicker was an easy decision because that’s what I call how my main character time travels. Coming up with the titles for the rest of the trilogy (Fracture and Faded) took a lot more effort. I had several criterion: they had to be one-word, two-syllable F-word titles, they needed to sound somewhat similar to each other, and they had to reflect what happens in the story. No problem, right?
 As for the covers, I designed them myself (as well as did the book formatting—being a designer is very helpful when you self-publish!). Once I finished the cover for Flicker, I knew the other two would have the same look. 

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
 It varies. I never say where the Flicker Effect takes place, but a lot of the places are based off areas in west Michigan, while my current book takes place outside of Denver. As for character names, most of them just pop into my head. Biz was originally named Luz, the Spanish word for light, but I decided it didn’t work with the story. My niece has a friend named Biz so I borrowed her name. Cameron and Katie were named after Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, who had recently starred in The Holiday, but usually I just clear my mind and whichever name comes to me is what I go with.
Are character names and place names decided after there creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
 In my first novel, I had to go through and change a lot of names after the first draft because I’d given EVERYONE names that began with either M or R. That’s way too confusing for readers, so I got cozy with Word’s Find & Replace function.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
 I try to determine basic characteristics before I start writing—that’s one benefit to doing an outline ahead of time—but there are always things that sneak up on you while you’re writing. In the Flicker Effect, Biz is pretty reserved, so I knew her best friend (Amelia) would be very outgoing to balance her out.
How do you market/promote your books?
My husband and I joke that when I make a million dollars he’ll be my full-time business manager, but for now, as a self-published author, marketing falls completely on my shoulders. I’m very active on social media, but that can only take you so far, so I declared 2015 my year for “breaking out of my circle,” meaning I need to focus on getting myself in front of people who I don’t already know (like this interview!). I’ve planned events at libraries and a couple expos, and I hope to continue with interviews and book signings.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
 I have ALL the hobbies! I have a hard time sitting still, so unless I’m reading or writing, I’m off doing something. I’ve always played sports (currently softball, dodgeball, golf, bowling, skiing, biking, soccer and volleyball) and living in Michigan, there are always opportunities to do things outside (hiking, boating, and kayaking are my favorite). I’ve salsa danced since 1999, but haven’t been able to find places to go in west Michigan. I also love doing crafty things, so I usually have a project or twelve going on (currently building a desk for my office and decorating the house we bought at the end of last year).
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
 Yes! When I wrote Flicker I wasn’t planning a trilogy, and I really wish I’d made one of the characters two years older. There was a lot of finagling in Fracture to make her age work.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
 There are two things I tell writers who are just starting out: try to write every day and set very low word-count goals. When I wrote my first novel I was in a group that had to write 100 words per day. 100 words is nothing. It’s barely a paragraph. Because it’s so short, it’s really hard to make excuses not to write it, and more times than not, once you’ve started, you keep going. And if you don’t, you’ve written 100 words and progressed the story. The worst thing for me is to go several days knowing I’m STILL on the same passage where I last left off.
As you write more, you’ll learn what works best for you. NaNo taught me that I can write 1000 words in about an hour, and after that I need to stop. Some days I’ll get more, but that’s a good average for me. I don’t always reach that goal, but it’s what I strive for.
Finally, just keep writing! This is a very solitary endeavor and it’s easy to let self-doubt take over, but there’s nothing like the feeling when you type ‘The End’.
 Where can readers follow you?

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