Posts Tagged With: Young Adult

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:











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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, although I would suggest reading the more updated version on 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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Featured February YA #Romance #FastLife frm #MotownWriters Author, @CallMeMissCarta #amreading #michlit #motownlit




Caught up in a world of easy money, designer labels and drug-dealing boyfriends, sixteen-year-old Kyra Jones is living life on the fast track. But Continue reading

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Wednesday’s “Book Candy” Feature~Emlyn Chand

Today’s book candy feature is young adult author Emlyn Chand. Tune into today’s Motown Literary Network blogtalk radio at 5:3opm as she talks about her  Farsighted book series. Until then, here’s a little taste!



Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.


Plus-sized Simmi Shergill doesn’t need to use her gift of psychic feeling to lure Alex and Dax into falling for her; they do that on their own. Choosing between the blind seer who loves her and the charming telekinetic with “bad idea” written all over him won’t be easy—especially while trying to survive high school.

Author website:



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Amanda Hocking-Better


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Motown’s Young Adult Feature~ Dara Nichole

Dara Nichole

Join us today as we welcome another one of Detroit’s crown jewels: Dara Nichole.

Dara Nichole Walker is an author, speaker, and inspirational blogger. Mrs. Walker is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and is currently working on her Masters of Business Administration. She has worked with various youth and women organizations in the metro Detroit area assisting in developing programs and activities to build their self-esteem, facilitate group discussions, and provide resources and opportunities for them to develop their gifts and talents. Mrs. Walker truthfully understand the troubles of the teenager in this generation and the pitfalls they must overcome to be successful. She is aware of the calling on her life to minister to the issues of youth and inspire them to grow closer to Christ. “Once we show young women who they are and their value, they will start to understand their worth, and really start to walk in the things God has for them.” Mrs. Walker is committed to fulfilling the calling. Dara lives in the Metro Detroit area with her husband and son.


5 questions with Dara:

How old were you when you realized that you have the gift of writing?

When I was in the 1st grade I would write stories for my mom and she would read them aloud. I used to love to write in high school and we would actually start a story and pass it among friends to continue the story. By the time I got to College, I just knew in my heart I had to write.

How does writing coincide with your ministry to mentor young girls?

I try to talk about issues they deal with now. Peer pressure, drinking, drugs, not getting an education, bullying, all those are issues young girls need advice on, but may not seek the answers. I want the girls to learn as much as possible, even when they don’t think they’re learning!

How does your writing style differ from other young adult authors?

Sometimes I can be heavy handed with my message concerning Christ. I know there is a balance and i am working on it, but it is apart of me, and I want people to know who I stand for, and what I stand for throughout every book I write.

Are there any messages in your books?

Loving yourself, loving others. Focusing on our destiny, sex can wait, among other Christian Principals.

Now that you’re a mother, how does that change the way that you write?

I have more of a  drive to be successful. I want my son to be proud of me, and know that when you work hard, and do your best, you will be fulfilled. There’s no other feeling like walking in your purpose.

Check out Dara’s books…

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Motown’s Young Adult Feature~ Cassandra Carter

Young Adult author, Cassandra CarterToday the Motown Writer’s Network would like to introduce you to one of Detroit’s brightest stars, Young Adult author Cassandra Carter.

Cassandra Charisse Carter is the 23-year-old authoress of two novels for young adults, Fast Life (July 2007) and 16 Isn’t Always Sweet (March 2008). Born on Tuesday, February 21, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania, Cassandra is the product of a single-parent home.

While her interests range from fashion to music, Cassandra exhibited a passion for writing at a young age. Her unique talent for storytelling was first noticed in short stories written for her mother, but she also received praise from her teachers and her peers. At the tender age of 9, Cassandra and her mother moved to Michigan where Cassandra continued to explore different ways to express herself on paper. While studying various writing styles throughout the years, she has preserved an original voice that today’s generation can relate to.

Cassandra was only 14 years-old when she created the concept for Fast Life. Inspired by a dream, she completed what would be her very first novel the following summer when she was just 15. With the encouragement of her family and help from a literary agent, Cassandra signed a contract with the Harlequin imprint, Kimani Tru, two years later. An honors graduate from Huron High School in Ann Arbor, MI Cassandra received her diploma just one month before welcoming the release of her first published title, Fast Life.

Ms. Carter currently resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan with her Mom, Susan, and the cutest cat ever named Oreon. She is a proud member of the Motown Writer’s Network based in Detroit, MI. Whenever she is not working on her newest book, Cassandra is busy speaking to youth in the community. For more info please visit!

5 Questions with Cassandra…

You began writing at such a young age; do you remember what your first short story was about?

I don’t remember what my first story was about, but there is one in particular that stands out.  . . I was in 3rd grade when I made up this story about a chocolate volcano that erupted and washed away my hometown (Reading, PA). I incorporated my neighbors into the story and everything. It was so funny. Needless to say, my teacher at the time was so pleased with what I’d done, after raving about it to my Mom at a parent-teacher conference, she took it to her Master’s class to share it with them because she was so impressed.

Where do you believe your passion for writing comes from?

I would say I’m a natural-born writer. It’s hard to explain, but I always knew that’s what I was meant to do. I even wrote an essay about it once. I think it all began when my mom would read to me as a child. I always loved to read, and since reading and writing go hand in hand it came naturally. It didn’t take long before I got to the point where I didn’t want to just sit back and enjoy the story I wanted to find a way to get involved and come up with my own. I started off by taking stories I already knew, like the story of Pocahontas, and re-writing them. Then I progressed to writing original material which was mostly scary stories.  Over time, I’ve nurtured my craft by taking just about every writing class I could: journalism, composition, etc. but I never thought it was practical to think I would ever actually become an authoress so I never thought to write a book until a dream inspired me. When I woke up I heard this voice say “Cassandra, you should write a book about that,” and it was a wrap. Fast Life is the first book I ever wrote. Two years later it was published.

 What have been the most rewarding challenges you’ve faced while being a young author?

With Fast Life, I faced one of the biggest challenges any author can face and that’s editing. The original version of Fast Life was over 120,000 words which came out to over 500 pages so we had the task of cutting the book in half for length and content, all while trying to maintain a solid storyline and have everything still make sense. Any author reading this right now is probably like, “What?!” But in the end I feel like Fast Life came out even better because of the changes and I was extremely happy that my voice was preserved throughout. Another big thing for me has just been trying to adjust to being a part of the industry and learn the business side of things all while making the transition from a teenager to adulthood myself. What a lot of people don’t know is there is a lot more that comes along with being an author than just writing the book. The industry is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn.

What are some of your goals in your writing career?

In hopes of establishing myself as a full time writer, I hope to release new books, and soon.  I would like to branch out into urban fiction in addition to romance and Young adult fiction. Hopefully one of my books will make the New York Time’s Best Seller’s list one day. I would love to turn my books into movies eventually. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about that. I would also like to be a guest writer for different newspapers and magazines. I am still playing around with the idea of blogging, too. I think one of the best things for me personally, is when I have a chance to have one-on-one interaction with my readers so I’m looking forward to more speaking opportunities. Like Drake said, “I just want to be successful.”

 What advice would you give today’s young writer?

Believe in yourself and your talent. Never doubt yourself. I know you’ve heard it a million times to the point where it almost sounds cliché, but it’s true, especially as an artist. It’s something even I have struggled with. It can be scary to think about putting your work out there for everyone to see, but it is important to remain open to criticism without taking it personally. Before Fast Life came out I remember being anxious over the language and content and the fact that now everyone I know, including my teachers and my family, were going to be able to see it. I was worried I might get in trouble since I’d written it when I was 14 – 15 but then my grandmother told me, “This is your writing and no one can take it from you,” and that stayed with me.

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