nonprofit, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with her husband Jeremy."
My interview with Melanie Hooyenga, below - enjoy!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I first started writing as a kid and wrote a lot of short stories, poems, and songs—all things that should never see the light of day!—through middle and high school. In college I focused more on graphic design, which was my career most of my adult life, and didn’t start writing novels until I was in my early 30s. About a year and a half ago I started working at a nonprofit as the Director of Marketing and Communications and I’m excited to finally have writing be a part of my day job as well.
Can you share your journey to becoming a published author?
I sought representation for my first two novels, but as is the case with a lot of writers, the first novels you write aren’t usually the ones that get published. It wasn’t until I wrote FLICKER, my first YA novel, that I found my voice. Despite the fact that I’m in my 40s, I’m most comfortable writing teenagers.
I queried FLICKER and had several agents request the full manuscript—which is a huge step in the process—but ultimately they all passed. I had always sworn that I would never self-publish, but by 2012 the stigma was starting to change and more authors were choosing self-publishing, not looking at it as a last resort. Because I’m a graphic designer I was able to design the cover and handle a lot of the marketing pieces that most authors have to outsource, so the cost has been minimal.
I published FLICKER at the end of 2012 and hadn’t intended for it to be a trilogy, but suddenly I had ideas for two more and FRACTURE and FADED were born. (If only the process were as easy as I make that sound!) I continued self-publishing the rest of the trilogy and with each book the process has gotten easier.
With my newest book, THE SLOPE RULES, I also sought representation but ultimately chose to go indie again. I had good feedback from agents, including two who told me they were already representing YA ski books (who knew?) so I knew I was on trend and could do well on my own. Self-publishing is challenging because you’re responsible for everything, but it’s also very rewarding to know everything I’ve accomplished is because of my efforts.
Share with us a daily habit of yours, that helps you reach your goals.
I’m fortunate that I live two miles from work and I don’t have to be there until 8:30am, so I use that time in the morning to write. I set my alarm for 6am, and after hitting snooze a few times I shower, throw my PJs back on, then settle into my chair in my writing room. I’ve learned over the years that I can write 1000 words in 45-60 minutes, and even if I don’t write that much, I start my day feeling accomplished.
When I’m not actively writing, like now while I’m promoting THE SLOPE RULES, I still go through the routine and work on my computer in my chair so my body stays in the habit. (I’m using that time to do this interview!)
What is one piece of advice you would share with an aspiring author?
I have two pieces of advice.
Finish these sentences:
I am most grateful for... my writing friends. I’ve found a wonderful community and I couldn’t imagine getting through a first draft (or second, third, fourth…) without them.
If I could give my 18 year-old self one piece of advice it would be... DON’T STOP WRITING! I stopped when I went to college and didn’t start again until I was 33. When I think now about how many novels I could have written in that time…
My favorite thing about being a writer is... sharing my imaginary friends with others.
My least favorite thing about being a writer is... the self-doubt. I don’t think you can truly call yourself a writer if you don’t occasionally question why you’re doing this, but it can be mentally debilitating.
My goals for the future are... write and publish more books!
I love living a creative life because... it keeps my soul at peace. I’m not a religious person but I will say that I feel grounded when I’m actively creating.
The last book I read was... Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. I met him last year at an all-day revision intensive class and was excited to finally read one of his books.
My favorite book, ever, is... UGH. I hate favorites. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins and THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer are both standouts
Outside of writing, my favorite hobby is... playing every sport under the sun. Seriously. I’ve tried just about every sport and in a given year I: ski, bike, hike, kayak, bowl, walk the dog (not a sport but I do it daily), golf, and play softball, volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball. Plus darts, pool, shuffleboard, bags…
The most important thing to do if you want to achieve your goals is... don’t give up and believe in yourself. It helps to have an unfailing support team, but if you don’t think you can do it, you won’t.
Do you have any New Years Resolutions for 2017? Keep writing! I’m not a fan of resolutions because I feel like if you want to change something about yourself you shouldn’t wait for a specific date to do it—you should just do it. The past couple years I’ve had goals pertaining to reaching readers, so I really just want to continue with what I’ve started.
Tell us about your books (genre, where we can find them, etc.) THE SLOPE RULES is a YA sports romance set in snowy Colorado that’s Grease meets Mean Girls with downhill skiing. I live in west Michigan where we get a lot of snow and I got the idea during a particularly snowy winter in 2014 while watching the Olympics. I love sports so this was a really fun book for me to write.
Here’s the blurb:
Fifteen-year old Cally accepted her fate as one of the guys, so when she meets Blake, a hot snowboarder who sees her for more than her aerials on the slopes, she falls fast and hard. But their romance can only last as long as vacation.
Or so she thinks.
A twist of fate—well, her Dad opening another brewery in a new town—lands her in Blake’s school, but the charismatic boy she fell for wants nothing to do with her, and worse, the Snow Bunnies, the popular clique, claim her as their newest recruit.
Cally must learn to be true to herself—all while landing a spot on the ski team and figuring out who she is without her old friends. And when she finds out what Blake is hiding, she learns the rules on the slopes apply to more than just skiing.
Where can readers find you (i.e. website, social media, etc.)?
Anything else you'd like to add... Thank you for having me! I love meeting new readers and especially love hearing from them! Drop me a line at email@example.com or find me online at the links above.
Ritz writes the following genres:
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