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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

ℚ The Trail Rules: The Rules [2] - Melanie Hooyenga

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Trail Rules (, Left-Handed Mitten Publications, 217 pages), a Young Adult Contemporary Romance, book two in The Rules series.

"Five stars!! After reading (and loving!) The Slope Rules, I was eager to read The Trail Rules - and it didn't disappoint!" - Amazon Verified Purchase

"If you are looking for a great YA contemporary that has real characters, is a 'happily ever after' but also realistic, this is for you! Plus there is mountain biking - something you rarely come across in stories!"
- Amazon Verified Purchase


|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||


A very warm welcome to Melanie Hooyenga; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for The Trail Rules?

"The Trail Rules is the second book in The Rules Series, so I got my inspiration from The Slope Rules!

In the first book, Cally is in a new school and must learn to be on her own without her friends back home. She becomes friends with a girl named Mike, who’s much quieter and unsure of herself than Cally, and I knew I wanted to write a book about her.

Mike is the star of The Trail Rules, and it’s about her figuring out what she really wants and how she’ll go after that. And there’s tons of action-packed mountain biking scenes!"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Mike is probably the least like me of any of the characters I’ve written. She’s more introverted and has a hard time telling people what she’s thinking. We’re similar in that we avoid conflict at almost any cost, but we both own up to our mistakes.

In The Slope Rules, Cally is an amazing skier, and I’ve skied my entire life, but with The Trail Rules, Mike’s just learning to mountain bike because while I ride my bike, the most aggressive moves I’ve done are hopping a curb or cutting across my front yard. (Insert dramatic fist-pump here.) Mike’s fear of falling and crashing into a tree in 100% mine."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The Trail Rules - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"First, I should confess that in addition to writing my books, I also design the covers and do all the formatting. The Rules Series has a certain look and feel, with similar colors, a couple above the title, and an outdoorsy scene on the bottom. I changed the font of each book to represent the book’s overall mood, but I think the three books together have a cohesive feeling that tells readers what to expect."

Why should we read The Trail Rules and The Trail series; what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your series unique?
"There are plenty of romances out there, but readers have said that they haven’t read other books with as much depth as mine. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that my main characters all challenge themselves physically with different sports. I’ve played sports my whole life and feel they can instil a sense of discipline and competitiveness that carries into other aspects of your life.

With Cally, skiing is her purpose for being, while with Mike it takes her longer to realize how at peace she feels when she’s in the middle of a forest on a trail barely wide enough for her and her bike. So much of that can translate into the rest of your life, and it helps my characters tackle whatever problems they’re facing."
Can you tell us something quirky about The Trail Rules, its story and characters?
"I decided to make The Trail Rules about mountain biking because many skiers and snowboarders bike when there’s no snow—never mind the fact that I’m not a mountain biker.

With skiing, I did a little research to make sure I had the terminology correct, but the majority of the description comes from my experience.

Mountain biking was a different story. Now, I ride my bike around town, but I feel pretty hard-core when I hop a curb or cut across my front yard. Forget barrelling down trails with trees closing in on either side of me. Fortunately I’m friends with a woman who IS a mountain biker, so I picked her brain about the proper gear, terminology, and what happens when you encounter other riders on the trail. She taught me that you do not, in fact, wear spandex shorts while mountain biking, so when Mike wears spandex in the first few chapters, that’s purely a shout-out to my inexperience.

Also, I decided to give the love interest a very similar name—Mica—as a joke at first, but I liked some of the silliness that came with it. My apologies to anyone who gets confused!"
Who would you recommend The Trail Rules to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"This book is perfect for anyone who loves swoony romance, action-packed adventure, and figuring out who you are. Mike doesn’t have all the answers, but she’s trying to be a better person and have fun along the way.

The characters are juniors in high school and it’s appropriate for seventh grade an up."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"The first two novels I wrote were written for an adult audience but had teenage protagonists. After the second novel, a couple writing friends commented that maybe I should try writing young adult, but I blew them off and said they were crazy. This was around the time the fourth book in the Twilight series came out and people were losing their minds over the books, and that was also when I started reading YA, so when I got my next idea, I decided to write it as YA. I haven’t looked back since.

I read almost exclusively contemporary YA, and my writing follows that pattern. My first series, The Flicker Effect, is time travel but I still consider it to be contemporary, not science fiction. The Rules Series is sports romance, and I have ideas for future romances, as well as a more thriller-ish story. So I’d say I’m somewhat varied, but all within contemporary YA."
What is your writing process?
"When I first get an idea, I take notes as fast as I can while the ideas are flowing. It’s messy, disorganized, and chaotic, and not intended for anyone else to read. After that, I put it all together in an outline and character bible, and then I start writing. My goal is to write 1000 words per day, and my designated writing time is right when I wake up before I go to my day job. Some days I write 1200, while other days I only write 200, but as long as I’m making progress, I’m happy.

After I finish a draft, I let it sit for at least a couple weeks, then I start my edits. I don’t edit while I write, so I typically start taking notes on things I need to change when I’m about halfway through the draft. During my first read, I note where I can make the changes from my list of edits, and I do as many passes as it takes to complete the list. After that, I start sharing with beta readers and go through three to four more rounds of edits before I declare a book complete."
What is in store next?
"As I mentioned above, the third book in the series, The Edge Rules, comes out this October, and it tells the story of Brianna, the awful mean girl from the first two books.

I knew I wanted to write her story for two reasons: first, to show people that if there’s someone in your life who’s just a horrible person, there’s probably something going on in their life to make them that way. And second, for those people who might BE the horrible person, to show them that they don’t have to stay that way. All the bad things Brianna did in her past come back to bite her in the butt, and she starts to realize that it’s possible to change."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Funny you should ask! I have a Miniature Schnauzer named Owen who is the most popular member of our family. I got him when I was living in Mexico and we don’t have children, so he is my baby. And he has an Instagram account with almost 12K followers." 
Hello Owen! What a gorgeous boy! Lots of head scratches and belly rubs to you. And of course we are now following you on Instagram ;-)

Melanie, thank you for sharing him with us!

Sometimes you don't realize you're on the wrong trail
until the right one crosses your path.

The Trail Rules
Available NOW!

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