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MWN Author Spotlight –Melanie (Hooyenga) Swiftney @MelanieHoo

Melanie HooyengaThis week, the spotlight is on Melanie (Hooyenga) Swiftney;

Melanie Hooyenga first started writing as a teenager and finds she still relates best to that age group. She has lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but has finally settled down in her home state of Michigan with her husband Jeremy. When not at her day job as a writer/designer, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with Jeremy.

 

Where are you from?

I live in Grand Haven, Michigan, just a few minutes from Lake Michigan. I’m originally from here, but I’ve lived in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

Tell us your latest news?

The third book in my YA trilogy, the Flicker Effect, came out in June 2015. Also, I’ll be at the Grand Rapids Comic Con this October and the Kalamazoo Book Bash. I can’t wait!

When and why did you begin writing?

I first started writing in middle school, but stopped once I graduated college and started my career as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until I was living in Mexico and not working that I started writing again. It’s been eight years and I haven’t stopped since!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer about a year after I started writing, so once I’d finished my first full-length novel. I considered myself an author when I published my first novel, Flicker, in 2012.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first novel was about a teenager trying to sneak across the US border from Mexico. (You could say I was influenced by my surroundings.) I enjoyed including the day-to-day details I learned about Mexico, but that novel is buried safely in my computer.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I prefer to write in first person, present tense. My first two novels were third person past, but I feel much more comfortable in first present. It’s sometimes tricky because you can only tell the story from your character’s perspective–there’s no narrator to add details for the reader–but the immediacy to that voice resonates with me.

How did you come up with the title?

My main character, Biz, uses sunlight to travel back to yesterday. She calls it flickering after the way the sunlight filters through the trees like a strobe light, so it seemed logical to name the first book Flicker, and the series the Flicker Effect.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Try to see beyond yourself. There’s a big world out there and each of us can help others in our own unique way.

How much of the book is realistic?

It’s contemporary YA, set in modern day, so aside from the time travel element, it’s completely realistic.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There are snippets from real situations or jokes that I have with friends, but very little is taken from actual events. There is a scene in Faded (book 3) that is similar to something that happened to me, but I can’t go into detail without spoiling it.

What books have most influenced your life most?

I’ve read voraciously since I was very young, and my tastes have varied over the years. Because of that I can’t say that any one book or books have had a bigger influence than others. I devoured the Sweet Valley High books in elementary school, so those certainly sparked my interest in the relationships between people — something that plays a strong role in my books.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d love to spend time with Stephanie Perkins, author of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Her books blow me away. The storylines aren’t overly complex but I want to be best friends with her characters and I’d love to get inside her head to learn how she does it.

What book are you reading now?

Nothing at the moment but I recently finished SMART GIRLS GET WHAT THEY WANT by Sarah Strohmeyer. It’s about three wickedly smart high school girls who realize there’s more to high school than just good grades. My current WIP is about a girl who moves to a new school so I’m devouring books about teens going through big changes (which is pretty much all YA) and this one was great.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Linda Budzinski is fantastic. Her debut novel, THE FUNERAL SINGER, is phenomenal and I cannot wait for her next novel, EM AND EM.

What are your current projects?

I wrapped up the Flicker Effect series this past June, so now I’m working on a book about a girl who loves to downhill ski and moves from Vermont to Colorado. And of course there’s a swoon-worthy boy.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My teachers, for sure. They’ve always seen my potential and pushed me to be better than I thought I could be.

Do you see writing as a career?

Someday. Right now I still have a day job, but I recently switched from being a full-time graphic designer to having more of a focus on writing.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Nope. I’m really happy with the way I concluded the series.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I still have a short story I wrote in first grade, so I’d have to say writing has always been a part of me. My mother is an avid reader, something I got from her, and that turned into storytelling for me.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

This scene takes place right after Cally wiped out doing a ski trick. Blake helped her, and now she’s being examined at the lodge:

I texted Dad after Blake convinced me to call ski patrol, and now he’s pacing behind me while a snow patrol guy in a blue ski jacket appraises my knee. My snow pants are shoved as high as I can get them up my leg but they keep sliding down. Blue Jacket touches his chin before making eye contact with Dad. “Snow pants have to go.”

A fresh wave of humiliation sweeps over me. Of all the days to wear my long underwear with little bunnies hopping all over them. I unsnap my snow pants and shimmy them to my ankles, then slide the bunnies over a knee that is considerably larger than it was when I got dressed this morning.

“Christ, Cally.” Dad forces out a deep breath and rests a hand on my shoulder. “What were you trying to do?”

If I admit I was upside-down without an adult within fifty feet he might not let me out of his sight the rest of the vacation. “Nothing crazy. Just my usual three-sixty. I caught my edge when I landed.”

Blue Jacket pokes my knee and I suck in a breath.

Please don’t let it be serious.

“Looks like a sprain. There’s a med center in town that can tell you for sure, but I suggest you stay off it for a few days.”

I whip around and face Dad. “A few days? That’s our entire trip!”

Trilogy_full covers

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Right now, I’m still working on staying in the voice of this new character. I wrote Biz and her friends for five years, so I have to remind myself that Cally reacts to things differently.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Lisa McMann really stands out for young adult, probably because her two series, WAKE and VISIONS, are similar to mine. They’re both about a normal girl who has a weird quirk in her head that makes her do something supernatural.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I would LOVE to, but no. Fortunately the internet makes it easy to research far-away places. I have traveled across west Michigan for different book events, and hope to attend an event in Detroit in spring of 2016.

Who designed the covers?

I did! The benefit to also being a graphic designer is I’ve designed the covers and interiors of all my books.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Deciding it was finished. Most writers will agree that you could keep editing forever. There’s always one more thing to change, one detail to clarify, or one scene that could be tightened, but at some point you have to step away and decide it’s finished.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that it’s very important to keep a character bible while writing. When secondary characters pop up, or they go to a restaurant, I name it and keep writing. If they go to that restaurant later in the book and you haven’t noted the name, you’ll have to search the entire document to find the name. Notes are good.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up! Writing a novel is a solitary endeavor and it can take a really long time. It’s easy to get inside your head and let self-doubt take over, but if you want to write a novel, sit down with your computer or pen and paper and do it. You are the only one who can stop you.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading! I love hearing from my readers and I especially love getting reviews. They are gold to writers.

 

Name of Author: Melanie Hooyenga

Name of Book: The Flicker Effect trilogy (FLICKER, FRACTURE, and FADED)

Author Website: http://www.melaniehoo.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Melanie-Hooyenga/e/B00AHNSQCO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieHooyenga

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelanieHoo

 

FLICKER Ch 1: http://www.melaniehoo.com/books/flicker/flicker-prologue-chapter-1/

FRACTURE Ch 1: http://www.melaniehoo.com/books/writing/fracture-chapter-1/

FADED Ch 1: http://www.melaniehoo.com/books/faded/faded-chapter-1/

flicker

faded

fractured

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Check out #MotownWriters Books of the Month for November #MichLit

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MWN Author Spotlight- Elizabeth Weyman

Elizabeth WeymanCome with us as we spotlight another awesome Michigan author, Elizabeth Weyman.
Where are you from?
Owosso, Michigan
Tell us your latest news?
I have recently published my second novel, “Promise at Daybreak” in September of 2015. My first released in August of 2014, entitled, “Under the Windowsill.”
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in first grade. I was the only one excited to finish a paragraph into a story instead of going out for recess.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was first published in a church curriculum guide and that was when I knew I wanted to be a full-time writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Whenever someone asked me in college what I wanted to do after my education, I would always say…I want to be a writer. Write books, advertising copy, newspaper articles or even magazine articles. I did it all.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing is contemporary. I write to entertain my readers. Give them a fun getaway for just a few hours.
How did you come up with the title?
I usually end up writing the entire book before creating the titles. My first came to me as I was driving into a nearby town. I just knew it to be the title the moment I thought of it. The second title came to me on a walk.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. I think every author pursues this goal. Each book was different, but I try to instill a sense of what it is like to fix family relationships. Create in reader’s hearts a search which will ultimately lead to eternal hope.
How much of the book is realistic?
I always pursue realistic scenes, but in some ways, it is still just fiction. Many of my readers tell me they feel as though they are sitting down for tea or a meal with my characters. They feel a part of the scene. I think that’s as realistic as you can get.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think every writer pulls from ‘what they know.’ But I always point out to all my readers, it is still just based off of ideas from my creativity. There might be similarities to the people I know, but they are totally new created beings on paper.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers as well as The Last Sin Eater.  I love Rivers style and the way she weaves thoughts into her plots. I’ve loved to read for years. Some of my first loves were the Little House series and Nancy Drew.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
 I’ve met many influential writers at many of the writer’s conferences I’ve attended. Some are seasoned and experienced, others were just like me…starting out. But some of my closest mentors were newspaper editors who have influenced my writing in many ways.
What book are you reading now?
I’m in between reading right now. I have a stressful job during the summer which doesn’t allow me to read much. But I enjoy reading new author books and also watching for my favorite authors’ new works.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Cynthia Ruchti is a new author who is also a friend. I enjoy her works.
What are your current projects?
I am concentrating on marketing my second book right now, but the third one has begun formulating in my mind and I want to begin writing it in November.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My community. My hometown. For years I was their newspaper reporter and now they have come behind me with enthusiasm and excitement in my new adventure of being a novel writer.
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. From day one.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would have proofread…just one more time.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In first grade, as I said before, the teacher challenged us to read 100 books in a certain amount of time. I was one of ten or so students who took multiple books home every single day to read. I finished the project and got my name and photo in the newspaper. That was the beginning for me. Reading led to writing.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My third book will be about loss and mourning. I love to work through situations and show people the best way to relate and deal with a hard subject. Promise at Daybreak was about elderly sisters dealing with dementia and congestive heart failure. Death loomed, how would they handle it.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Promoting myself. I try harder to promote my books, but it is really hard to promote myself as a new writer. An author. Probably because I have to pinch myself daily to see if it is really true.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As I said before, Francine Rivers is my favorite. I love how she weaves her life principles into fiction.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I’m not sure what you mean by this question. I have traveled to Mackinac Island to promote my books which has the same setting. I went there this summer for a book signing.
Who designed the covers?
I have the ideas and take the photos for my books, but I have a master at graphics from i-60 Media in Durand, MI.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Being diligent at each step. Writing, plotting, editing and then marketing.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It was a dream I had all my life. I wasn’t sure I could ever do it, but afterwards it taught me that if you have a dream, achieve it. Just do it!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Learn, grow and write…in that order. Just because you have an idea for a book, doesn’t mean you have the skills and talent to do it. I went four writing conferences, studied the craft in depth and then tried to pursue it.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I appreciate them. I am humbled every single time I get a compliment on my writing and my books.
Promise at daybreak
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#MotownWriters: Author Sign up for Motown Literary Women’s Luncheon 2016… Limited Book Vendor Spots #MichLit

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Motown Literary Women Event 2016

March 19, 2016 11am

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MWN Spotlight ~ Nancy Barr

Nancy BarrWhere are you from?

I was born in Illinois, lived in Southern California for several years as a child, and have lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 1981.
Tell us your latest news?

I switched careers from journalism to higher education about seven years ago and since then have earned a master’s degree in rhetoric and technical communication and started teaching communication to engineering students at Michigan Technological University.  I’m now working on a PhD, but I’ve started a new fiction project as well.  I have no idea when it will be ready for publication, but it’s great to be writing fiction again.
When and why did you begin writing?

I discovered I loved writing when I was still in elementary school.  I started keeping a journal of sorts to help me deal with life.  I never thought of being a professional writer until college and then an internship led me to a job at the local newspaper.  I began my first novel in 2000 because I felt I had a story to tell.  The characters had been developing for a few years and it just seemed time to put them on paper.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first felt like a “real” writer when my second book, “Page One: Vanished,” was released, even though I had been a “professional” for many years by then.  The first book felt like a fluke, a dream, but the second book made me feel like a legitimate author.
What inspired you to write your first book?

There was no single thing that inspired me.  The “Page One” trilogy’s protagonist, Robin Hamilton, was VERY loosely based on my experience as a small-town newspaper reporter.  She’s just prettier, smarter, and scrappier.  None of the other characters have any association with anything real and neither does the plot, except the opening scene in Ludington Park, where the first murder takes place.  I used to walk through the park quite regularly and that’s what started the creative process for that book.
Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, my journalism experience taught me the value of concise writing.  I love words, I just use them strategically.
How did you come up with the title?

The publisher, Susan Bays of Arbutus Press, wanted to develop a brand for the books, thus the “Page One” tag, indicating a news story worthy of page one.  Then each book has a teaser about the plot.  The first one revolves around a hit and a run death, the second book deals with the disappearance of several young women, and the third one deals with the drug trade (the U.P.’s notorious winter is also a character).
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Resilience.  Life deals my characters a lot of heartbreak but they come through it stronger.

 

 

How much of the book is realistic?

These situations certainly could happen, but they are pure fiction.  Unfortunately, “Page One: Whiteout” is the most true-to-life as U.P. communities struggle to deal with the influx of drugs like heroin and home-grown crystal meth.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Robin’s mother died when she was 10, while mine died when I was 9.  I wanted to explore a strong father-daughter relationship, like the one I had with my own father.
What books have most influenced your life most?

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books and Judy Blume’s books about adolescence got me hooked on reading as a child.  By the time I was 10, I was reading everything mystery or paranormal-related in the school library.  When I read my first Stephen King book, though, I remember thinking, “I could do this, I could see myself writing someday.”  Of course, it was another 15 years before my first book was published, but that’s where it started.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Stephen King.  I must have read his book “On Writing” at least a half dozen times now.  I use his advice about eliminating clutter from your writing when I teach my engineering students.  It’s true regardless of genre.
What book are you reading now?

I’m never reading just one book at a time.  I’m reading a history of the Vikings, a scholarly work by Nancy Hartsock called “Money, Sex, and Power”, and the fifth book in the Harry Potter series (I never had time to read them when they were released!). Next will be “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts:  A Memoir” by Neil White.  It’s Michigan Tech’s Summer Reading Program for our incoming first-year students.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’m sure there are lots of great ones out there, but I’ve been so focused on my graduate work that I don’t get much time to explore new fiction authors.
What are your current projects?

I’m working on something very different from my first three books.  It’s a mystery of sorts that takes place in the Copper Country in the early 1970s (a period which has really captured my imagination), just after the last copper mine shut down.  It will be darker, edgier, and more along the lines of an early Stephen King work than the “Page One” trilogy.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Teachers!  I was lucky to have some great teachers along the way who pushed me to do my best and challenge myself, never allowing me to settle for “good enough.”
Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely! I write novels for entertainment, academic articles for my day job, and I teach writing.  It’s the only thing I know how to do to pay the bills!

 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not at all.  What finally made it into print is the third complete rewrite.  My writing has matured over the years so I’m not as enamored with the first one, but many reviewers thought it was a good first effort so I don’t beat myself up about it too much.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My mother was an avid reader and I caught the bug from her.  From there, it was just a natural progression to writing.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

It has a strong female protagonist (naturally), a newcomer to the Keweenaw who is a product of the Sixties, unafraid to challenge the status quo.  I haven’t quite figured out the trajectory of the plot because it’s early in the creative process, but I’ve sketched out some unique characters.  I’m very big on strong characters in my novels!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Plotting is always the toughest for me.  There’s a balance between simplicity and complexity.  I want the story arc to be simple enough to connect with readers, but to have enough complexity to keep them engaged to the last word.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Other than Stephen King, I have favorite books of certain authors.  I’ve read Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” countless times (Mrs. Danvers is one of my favorite characters ever!). I love Anne Rice’s first two books in her vampire series.  William Kent Krueger’s mystery series set in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is beautifully written. And I could go on and on.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not so much now since it’s been a while since I’ve released a new book, but I still periodically give library talks, which I love!
Who designed the covers?

The publisher, Susan Bays, designed each cover.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Again, it’s always the plotting.  I have the most fun with characterizations.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

With each books I become a better writer and I have learned to appreciate a great editor!
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Focus on developing your craft any way you can.  Write blogs, be a columnist for the local newspaper.  Put together a family history.  Enter short story contests.   Just keep writing and putting your work out there.  Develop a thick skin.  No matter how great your writing, someone will always find fault with it so develop and nurture your own writing style.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I appreciate your loyalty.  I know many people would like to see another “Page One” book, but it’s time we all moved on. I like to think Robin is enjoying her new life.  I look forward to

meeting more of you when the next book is released!

  • Name of Author– Nancy Barr
  • Name of Book(s)– “Page One: Hit and Run” “Page One: Vanished” “Page One: Whiteout”

Excerpt: Page One Vanished excerpt

Page One VanishedPage One WhiteOutPage One Hit & Run

 

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Motown Writers Network~ Featured Author Cassandra Carter

Cassandra Pic

 

Inspired by a dream at fourteen years old, this week’s featured author Cassandra Carter is best known for her young adult novels. Becoming an author at the age of eighteen, she has since written three books; Fast Life, 16 Isn’t Always Sweet, and her latest novel Love, Lies, & Consequences. Join us as we get better acquainted with Motown’s very own Cassandra Carter.

 

Where are you from?

I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on February 21, 1989. I moved to Ann Arbor when I was 9 and I’ve been in Michigan ever since.

 
Tell us your latest news?

Just last month, I released my third novel, called Love, Lies & Consequences! The sequel to my first book, Fast Life (2007), this marks my transition from young adult to new adult fiction. Not to mention, this is my first independent project, so I am super, super excited that I am finally able to share it with the world!


When and why did you begin writing?

Looking back on it, I’ve been writing ever since I knew how. I started off small by writing stories for my Mom. Then I was mostly writing essays for school. I even dabbled in poetry for awhile. I always knew I wanted to write for a living, and even though I received a lot of praise for my work over the years, I thought being an author was “impractical” so I was more focused on becoming a journalist. Even after I signed my Harlequin contract, it took awhile for it to sink in. To this day it is still kind of surreal to refer to myself as an author, but deep down, I know this is what I am meant to do, which is why I decided to take more control of my career moving forward.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired by a dream. I was only 14 at the time, and the thought of writing of book hadn’t even crossed my mind, but when I woke up, a voice told me, “Cassandra, you should write a book about that.” I don’t know what came over me, but I got up and started putting together an outline, along with character names and descriptions right away. I spent my entire summer vacation working on it. It just kind of snowballed from there.

Once my family got wind of what I was doing, they started passing the book around behind my back. They were the ones who encouraged me to publish it. Meanwhile, I was terrified. I never thought to write a book, let alone be published – especially not so young. Fast Life is the first book I ever wrote so I was scared to put it out there for everyone to read and judge.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I would say my greatest strength as a writer is my movie-like descriptive ability. I think my age also gives readers a unique perspective. As an author, I feel like it’s my job to evoke emotion. I try to make sure that each book contains fresh dialogue, and unpredictable storylines that make for a quick, entertaining read.

How did you come up with the title?

After the first book came out, I got a few comments/reviews from people who felt like I was glamorizing the street life instead of focusing on the consequences so that definitely influenced me going into the second. Anyone who has read the book(s) knows that love and lies have always been present in Kyra and Justin’s relationship. After considering all of those factors, it only seemed appropriate I name the sequel, Love, Lies & Consequences.
How much of the book is realistic?

My goal is to keep it as realistic as possible while still preserving a certain element of escape. To me, that’s what makes a good love story. If it weren’t part fantasy, it wouldn’t be interesting.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes and no. I’ve always been very observant so I can’t help but draw inspiration from those around me. There are times where I might touch on things I’ve seen, heard or been through, but nothing is ever exact. I always have to put my own twist on it. That’s what makes it so fun.


Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Other than my family, my readers have been the best support system I could ask for. They have been so positive and encouraging. They have the power to turn my whole day around, and it’s always for the better. I love interacting with them. It reminds me that what I am doing is bigger than me. They motivate me to keep writing, even when I feel discouraged.
Do you see writing as a career?

I am still working on making that transition to full-time author/entrepreneur, and in that time, I plan to pursue other interests in addition to writing books. I still hope to contribute to different magazines and publications as a guest writer, in addition to starting my own brand, which would include hosting and modeling. I got a lot of feedback in regards to turning my books into movies so I’m not ruling that out either. I don’t want to limit myself like I did in the past.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

A lot of people don’t know I actually re-wrote the Fast Life sequel after being rejected by the publisher. And while I think every author could pick their work apart over and over again if you let them, I am really proud of what I came up with. I really feel like Love, Lies & Consequences captures the essence of the original – and plants just enough clues for part 3.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I have samples of my rough draft on my blog at www.16dreams.wordpress.com, although I would suggest reading the more updated version on Wattpad.com/CallMeMissCarta. All my books have the “look inside” feature on Amazon as well.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have a lot more responsibility now that I am older so it’s harder to find time. I have gotten more disciplined when it comes to schedule, but some days it can still be a challenge.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I have done mostly local events at schools and libraries around Ann Arbor and Detroit, but I have had the opportunity to travel to New York and Chicago for speaking engagements as well. Now that the new book is out, I hope I get the opportunity to travel more. I look forward to getting my name out there by networking with other industry professionals, one-on-one. Hopefully, I get to meet a lot more of my fans in-person.
Who designed the covers?

Harlequin/Kimani Tru was responsible for designing the cover for Fast Life. I didn’t have any say in that process. They also picked the title for both books I wrote for them. I played with a couple different concepts for Love, Lies & Consequences before I hired Leah Kaye, who did a phenomenal job!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I felt like there was a lot of pressure to live up to the first book. I got a lot of good reviews so I was scared the sequel wouldn’t measure up. I often wondered if I was wasting my time considering it had been years since I released anything. I worried I had been forgotten or that the story would be deemed irrelevant. But then I realized that even with all the time that has passed, I still had readers asking about a Fast Life sequel. There are still a lot of people out there who don’t know who I am.


Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I’ve learned a lot. I was just a teenager when I got my start in the business, so my goal now is to show my growth not only as a woman, but as a writer. Since Love, Lies & Consequences was an independent project, I got to be involved in the creative process from start to finish. Not only did I write the book, I came up with the title, synopsis, author bio, etc. I took the time to learn how to properly format the book and paid for editing services. Overall, I would say it’s been an on-going learning experience. There’s a lot more that goes into being an author than just writing the book.


Do you have any advice for other writers?

Stay true to your voice and your ideas. If your goal is to publish, be prepared to hustle, deal or no deal.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate all of your tweets, emails, and reviews, and I am grateful for your support! XOXO

 

Love Lies & Consequence

Author Info:

 

 

16 Isnt always sweet

fast life

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Motown Writers Network Author Feature~Victor ‘Billione’ Walker

Billione This week’s featured author is no stranger to the limelight, so shining a light on him is something he’s used to! A singer, poet and author, Billione (pronounced bil-LEE-yon) is one of Detroit’s most up and coming people to keep an eye on. He is the author of several books, including his most recent poetic play the Birth of Mars, and No Tea. No Shade, a novel set in Detroit. His thought provoking work touches on various subjects related to being a Detroit native, LGBT experiences and examining masculinity.

Come and experience the gifted one, Billione, as we talk to him about his work!

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Detroit. Most of my writing is pulled from my experiences as a Detroiter.
Tell us your latest news?

I recently released my first work of fiction entitled No Tea. No Shade. Set in Detroit, it is a story about the dapper, charismatic Chauncey King, a successful Editor-in-chief of the Detroit Daily News. Chauncey goes from reporting the news to being the center of his own scandal after coming face-to-face with his turbulent past. His life seems to unravel until he meets Malcolm Dandridge at a local bathhouse and realizes that in order to be happy he must first face his biggest fear.
When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing song lyrics as a child. My mother kept a journal and I would read the words she wrote and sing them. What she wrote sounded like love songs, full of joy and pain.
Other forms of my writing emerged out of my love for reading. As I child, I read books about a number of things but struggled to find characters that were similar to me. After writing song lyrics, I eventually wrote poetry and eventually fiction.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when I began writing news in the Mumford High School newspaper. I didn’t particularly like writing news; my Journalism teacher convinced me that I was good at it. So, I stuck with it. When I went home, though, I secretly wrote song lyrics and poems.
What inspired you to write your first book?

After meeting one of my favorite authors, the late E. Lynn Harris, I mentioned to him how his characters resonated with me, and his writing inspired me to write my own novel. He told me to be sure to send it to him when I did. After getting news of his passing in 2009, I remembered how I never started working on my novel. Remembering that meeting, I began taking notes on ‘No Tea. No Shade,” and dedicated it to Lynn.
Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know if I have a defined writing style, but I simply write about what I know: Detroit, being Black and gay. It is important to me to stay in my lane and offer my readers an authentic experience.
How did you come up with the title?

The title No Tea. No Shade. is a common phrase in the gay community said when you want to tell someone the truth without offending them. I heard RuPaul say it frequently on RuPaul’s Drag Race and knew it reflected the circumstances of the book.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Our lives are best spent coming to terms with who we are, building authentic relationships and getting our own truths. Life is too short to be spent trying to please others. When we face our darkest fears, it will be then that we can truly deserve to live in the light.
How much of the book is realistic?

Every character in No Tea. No Shade. has elements pulled directly from my life. Of course, there are some elements that are made more dramatic to enhance the reader’s experience, but it’s all realistic and quite autobiographical.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I pulled from everything I know: Personal experiences, things I’ve heard about and things I never read about but wanted to. No Tea. No Shade. is the type of book I would read.
What books have most influenced your life most?

Books like Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Their Eyes Were Watching Godare among my favorite books and have helped shape my personal philosophy.  I have also been influenced by authors like George Orwell, Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange, and Toni Morrison.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I consider Sylvia Hubbard a mentor. She has helped me go from a poet with a desire to self-publish to an author with multiple titles under my belt. I learned almost everything I know about independent publishing from her and the Motown Writers Network. I am sincerely grateful for the guidance and support I’ve received.
What book are you reading now?

I am currently reading an anthology of coming out stories entitled Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, edited by Derrick Tennial out of Atlanta. I contributed a story entitled Thirty-Eight, about my coming out as gay and how the messages I received through television as a child of the 80’s shaped my identity as a man.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I am inspired by a number of new authors, especially those writing poetry. Poets like Joel Fluent Greene of Detroit’s Café Mahogany days is releasing his first book of poetry this month. I am excited to celebrate him and read his new work. Also, Detroit poet T. Miller released a book called Coming Out Of Nowhere that took conversations that happened on social media to a different level.
What are your current projects?

I am currently preparing to bring my poetic play entitled The Birth of Mars to the stage. It was inspired by For Colored Girls by Ntozake Shange and the Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Mars took 6 years to write and examines masculinity in America.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Being a poet and having the opportunity to perform in Detroit has connected me to so many people. The artist community has been so supportive and encouraging. People like Dimonique Boyd, Crystal Campbell, jessica Care moore, Legacy Leonard, LaShaun Phoenix Moore, Omari King Wise, Kalimah Johnson and so many more have supported me as a poet and fiction writer.
Do you see writing as a career?

From the response No Tea. No Shade. has gotten, I could definitely see that happening. I love writing and enjoy the process of bringing characters to life. It isn’t easy crafting a story that makes sense, but when it’s all over, I feel accomplished and successful.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not one thing! I love my characters and the story. Well, maybe one thing… I would make it longer. The story is short, but gripping.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My interest for writing grew out of reading. My grandmother was an avid reader and it rubbed off on me.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I am currently finishing up my sixth book of poetry entitled Grand Boulevard. It is mainly about my experiences as a Detroiter. I dedicated it to the late, great Detroit poet Blair.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I am the king of the comma! For some reason, commas end up randomly in my writing, in places I am not so sure they belong. That’s what good editors are for!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

E. Lynn Harris and Alice Walker are among my favorite authors. Their books resonate with me because they require me to face my fears related to being Black, gay and an artist. They also have the best characters!
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I travel frequently for my books, whether to perform poetry or to discuss some of the themes in them. Sometimes other people make connections in my writing that never even occurred to me.
Who designed the covers?

I designed all of the covers for my books. I am interested in having someone else design the covers for my future publications.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The most difficult part of writing books has been keeping track of the storylines and making sure they don’t conflict with each other.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that the process of writing novels takes time and cannot be rushed. Creativity in any form should not be rushed.
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Observe people in their environments. Find out how people move, speak and interact. I did a lot of people watching in public places for No Tea. No Shade. The descriptions in the book are real. If you go to where my characters are and do the things they do, you will see exactly what they see.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Yes. Thank you for joining me on this journey and for supporting all of the stories and words that emerge from my mind.

No Tea No Shade

Billione

No Tea. No Shade.

getBillione.com

amazon.com/author/billione

amazon.com/No-Tea-Shade-Billione-ebook/dp/B00E332LZW

facebook.com/getBillione

twitter.com/Billione

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Michigan Male Authors: Help support #MotownWriters literacy efforts #RealMenRead #mwn #amreading #MotownLit #Detroit

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Michigan Male Authors: Help support #MotownWriters literacy efforts #RealMenRead #mwn #amreading #MotownLit #Detroit

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Motown Writers Network Author Feature~Christopher Broom


Christopher Broom
Author – Christopher R. Broom

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Southern California and currently make my home in Midland Michigan.

 

Tell us your latest news:

I’m currently working on my first science fiction dystopic novel entitled Pulse.  It centers around a young woman who is coming to grips with frightening new powers in a world who enslaves her kind.  Together with two companions she sets out to obtain her freedom and the freedom of those afflicted with the Pulse.

 

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing at a very early age…around seven or so.  I actually started out writing very horrible fan fiction in the Dragonlance universe.  I was just enraptured with the fantastical stories set in the Dragonlance world and I wanted to be a part of that.  As I got older I began creating my own worlds of fantastical design and I’ve never looked back.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a really good question. I suppose I don’t really consider myself a writer, at least not in the traditional sense.  I am however a person who enjoys writing.  But if I had to nail down a time frame I would say my first year of college when I impressed my Creative Writing Professor was the first time I really considered myself a writer.

 

What inspired you to write your first book?

During college I began to gravitate towards short fiction and after trying my hand at it I found a great connection with the genre and the style.  While it may not be a “book” my first piece of published writing is “Deeper Down the Hole”, a short story focusing on a man named Lyle who is forced to come to terms with being responsible for putting his teenage daughter into a coma.

 

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t believe so.  I think each story demands a different style and once I begin I just go along for the ride.

 

How did you come up with the title?

When I first began drafting what would become Pulse I had no idea what to call it.  One night while lying in bed with my wife we were talking about different titles and finally she told me to just be simple and call the book what it is.  After that the light bulb switched on in my head and I knew what the title had to be.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If there’s a moral or a message in Pulse I think it would be a rallying cry against discrimination.  The tone might not be prevalent or obvious but I think it’s there especially when you consider the consequences of severe discrimination.

 

How much of your book is realistic?

Maybe a little of it is realistic.  I think the general tone of the book can be read in a way that it can mirror real world problems but it’s done in an otherworldly sort of way.

 

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No not really although some of the characters in Pulse mirror some very close people in my life.

 

 What books have most influenced your life most?

I’m greatly influenced by the works of R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weiss and Tracey Hickman, Jean Rabe, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut and Ralph Ellison to name a few.  While it’s extremely difficult to name certain books that have influenced me I feel these authors and their collected works have had an enormous impact on me.

 

 If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I would choose R.A. Salvatore.  The way he writes about his characters is amazing and I would love to know how he does it.

 

What book are you reading now?

I’m currently reading “The Companions” by R.A. Salvatore as well as “Looking for Calvin and Hobbes – A Biography of Bill Watterson.”

 

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

It’s been fairly hard to keep up with new authors as there are so many but I’m always looking for new works by Jeff Vande Zande.

 

What are your current projects?

A lot of my time is spent working on Pulse and shaping the world it’s set in.  I’m also working on a collection of short stories entitled “The Deepest Part of Me.”

 

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Outside of family I haven’t really had a lot of support.  My wife of course has always supported me but if there was one person I could count on for any kind of support it would be fellow Michigan author Robin Devereaux-Nelson.

 

Do you see writing as a career?

Isn’t that what we all want?  I would love to be a career writer but I don’t ever see it happening for me.  For now I’m just happy to write and publish what I can.  If a handful of people are the only ones enjoying what I’ve created than that’s good enough for me.

 

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

The one thing that I learned is that research is important!  I think I went through fifteen to twenty drafts of Pulse before I even had a clear vision of what the setting was.  So if I could go back and change anything it would be to do some research first and have a solid setting in place before anything else.

 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I used writing as an escape.  In reality I lived in a one bedroom apartment in the middle of the Mojave desert with my mother and her then live-in boyfriend.  When I couldn’t get away from it all I would sit in front of a stack of paper and I would write my way to a better life.

 

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Absolutely,

“We’re almost to the top boy, ya ready?”

Cale nodded and tapped the two bottles of water that hung on his hip.

Dalen huffed and spread his thin lips into a smile.

He was handsome once Cale noted.  He had strong cheekbones and a square jaw.  His body was muscular but not overly large, his arms and chest filled out his vest.  His face was that of a hardened survivor however.  His eyes sat deep into his skull and any life they once held was long gone.  His face was rough and marred with so many scars Cale couldn’t count them all.  It was his hands however that always caught Cale’s gaze growing up.  His fingers which should have been straight were gnarled and twisted.  The skin which should have been rough only from aging had been torn apart and stitched back together so often Cale often wondered if it was actually human skin that covered his father’s hands or something else entirely.

The rumbling of the tracks began to smooth out, a sure sign they were nearing the top as the Primary’s always took better care of the tracks the closer the tracks were to the surface.

            Dalen stood and braced himself between the wall of the boxcar and the stack of crates and Cale did the same.  The routine never changed it seemed.  One….two….three….large bumps as the train passed over the tracks leading from the Bowels to the surface always threw everything that wasn’t securely fastened down around and on more than one occasion Cale suffered for not heeding his father’s warning.  When everything settled back into place Dalen and his son resumed their seats as Dalen pulled out a small piece of cloth that had been rolled and tied neatly.  A gift from their friends he had told Cale before they left their home earlier in the day.  Cale had never been fond of his father’s ‘friends’ but he did have to admit they knew exactly where to hit.

 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Having to create an entire world is very taxing.  While I could take the lazy-mans route and just throw together a bunch of stuff and call it a world I prefer to create a world that seems plausible.  So from religions to the economy to jobs to social issues and everything in between I want the world of Pulse to feel alive and that takes a lot of work.

 

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My favorite author is R.A. Salvatore without a doubt.  What I love about his work is how he handles his characters especially his sole creation of Drizzt Do’Urden.  That character is so multifaceted that I can read book after book about him and always discover a new side to him that I hadn’t known before.  It’s inspiring.

 

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not yet but maybe someday.

 

Who designed the covers?

There is currently no artwork for Pulse but I’m always looking for artists who can bring Pulse to life in a visual way.

 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I think one of the challenges of writing Pulse is getting the tone down.  It’s  very easy to take a book into an entirely new direction without even realizing it.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I gained a whole new respect for new and established authors who have already finished their novels.  It always seems that I’ll never finish but when I see others doing it I know I just have to keep my nose to the grindstone and get it done.

 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

To just keep writing and never stop; if you run into a block just write your way out of it even if it comes off as clumsy, you can always change it during rewrites and editing.

 

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for your support, it means everything to me especially on those long nights when I’ve only got the light of my computer screen and a warm cup of coffee to keep me company.

 

Deeper

Dominant Recessive
Facebook Authors Page – Christopher Broom
Click here to read an excerpt from Pulse on Goodreads!
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Michigan Male Authors: Help support #MotownWriters literacy efforts #RealMenRead #mwn #amreading #MotownLit #Detroit

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