Melissa Groeling graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in English. She lives, reads and writes in the Philadelphia region and wherever else life happens to send her. She is a hardcore New York Giants fan and loves chocolate. Traffic Jam is her first young adult novel.
Welcome Melissa ---thank you for visiting the blog today
Tell us a little about yourself
Hi there! Oh where do I begin? I’m a massive bookworm. I’ve worked at a chocolate factory. I’m currently addicted to white peppermint mochas from Starbucks. I have red hair that people insist that I dye (and I don’t) and I’m a New York Giants fan. Please don’t judge. *wink*
What book have you brought along to tell us about today?
I have my young adult novel, Traffic Jam. It’s a suspense novel centered around high-school sophomore, Val Delton. She’s a bit of a nerd and a loner. Her family’s been uprooted since her father lost his job and her mother works crazy hours at a local bakery to make ends meet. In the midst of all of this chaos is Val’s older sister, Sam. She’s every younger sister’s nightmare---pretty, popular and fearless. But Sam’s got a secret, a deadly one, and when Val accidentally finds out about that secret, her whole world is blown apart. It’s an exciting read. I had so much fun writing it. A lot of people have called it a roller-coaster ride which is awesome because I love roller coasters.
Are you working on another book right now?
I am actually! It’s a suspense-thriller that’s been a long time in coming. I started writing this back in college and only recently have it the way that I want it. I actually just signed a contract with Black Opal Books to have it published so it’s very exciting! My only problem with it is the title. The one I have now is Pleasant Dreams and I don’t think I want to keep it. Hmmm…
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Oh man, let me think. There is so much that I like about writing, it’s hard to come up with just one thing. I like everything from the scratch of the pen on the page to coming up with situations that I hope that I never find myself in! I like not having to keep a leash on my thoughts. I’m able to do things in a story that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to get away with in real life.
What do you like the least?
The editing process, hands down. I heard someone called it the “slice-and-dice” process and that’s literally what it is. There’s always something that can be trimmed down, tied up and sharpened and just when you think you have it right, you realize that you can do it another way, then another, then another. It can make your head explode. It really can.
Would you like to see any of your books as movies?
Probably not only because the movies are never anything like the book. Directors always miss something, take something out or add stuff in that completely takes away from the story.
What things do you like to do to relax?
I like to work out! It’s a great stress reliever and it also stops my joints from stiffening up on me. On the flip side, I love chocolate. A box of delicious truffles and a good book are a great combination to unwind with!
Do you have another job as well as writing?
I do! I’m a copywriter for an online pet food company. It’s fun and it’s extremely busy. You’d be surprised at how many pet food brands are out there.
If you could have one super power in your existence, what would it be?
I would love to fly! Cliché I know but I mean think of how much gas money you could save! Think of how quick you could get somewhere and you wouldn’t have to pay airfare! And I bet the view is wonderful! As long as you don’t crash into a flock of geese or go headlong into the engine of a jumbo jet.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
I wouldn’t mind San Francisco. I went there a few years ago with a friend of mine and it’s a great city. There’s also Switzerland, Alaska, or the beach—definitely somewhere near water whether it’s a lake, a river or the ocean.
What kind of car would you have if money was no object?
Ha! The one I’m driving now! It’s all paid off and still runs great!
What’s your favorite food?
Chocolate—does that count? Okay if you’re looking for real food, I’m going to go with anything Italian. Can’t go wrong with the noodles.
Can you think of a song or piece of music that could be your theme tune?
My Own Worst Enemy by Lit. That’s been my theme song for years!
Just answer these questions as quickly as possible.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate!
Dog or cat? Dog!
The film or the book? The book!
Heels or flats? Depends on the occasion but probably flats.
Jeans or dress? Jeans.
Beach or Snow resort? Beach resort!
Flowers or chocolate? Chocolate---I wasn’t lying when I said chocolate was my favorite! *grins*
Bath or shower? Shower—it’s quicker.
What do you love best about yourself?
Probably the fact that it doesn’t take much to amuse me.
What do you like least?
I’m always second-guessing myself. It’s very aggravating.
Do you have anything to share with other authors that might be a help?
I would say to other authors to keep on writing! It’s the only way to build on your skills of story-telling, plot, characters, etc. And don’t ever stop either. You keep going no matter how many rejects you get, no matter who’s telling you that you’re never going to get anywhere. You can’t get into the writing business with the hope of getting rich. You get into the writing business because you love to write. You love to tell stories and not just for other people but for yourself too. Listen to the voices in your head. They can give out really good advice sometimes.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Of course! Hello, my readers! Thank you so much for your support and I really hope you enjoy the stories that I’m giving you! Feel free to give me some feedback too! I’d love to hear what you think!
Can you share one of your favorite parts of one of the books?
Okay, the following is one of my favorite parts from Traffic Jam. I was trying for a real breathless action sequence and I hoped I pulled it off:
She had a glimpse of John’s bloodied mouth, then turned and tore down the street. Ed’s laughter followed her, snapping at her heels like demon dogs.
“Yeah, go on, Val!” he shouted after her, laughing manically. “Go on, run! Go faster, come on, stretch those legs! You play ball, don’t you? Come on, I’m catching up to you! I’m catching up to you, Val!”
Tears blurred her eyes, his voice making her ears hurt. Her thoughts were a screaming jumble, the world a distorted kaleidoscope as she ran faster, faster, oh God, please, faster...
“Val!” Ed screamed from behind her. Jesus was that his fingers brushing, grabbing at her hair?
A sound that was half-sob, half-scream tore from her throat. Her lungs burned with the desire for air that was caught somewhere in the vicinity of her chest. She could almost hear his pounding footsteps on the concrete behind her.
“Gonna kill you...gonna gut you open, I swear to God...” His words were hissed like steam, an enraged monologue of what he was going to do to her when he got his hands on her. And Sam.
She was coming down the steps of their apartment building with her dad and Justin. Hysterically, Val thought of the doctor’s appointment he was taking her to and hey everyone, look who’s coming to dinner?
She tried to scream out a warning as she barreled towards them. The words were locked in her throat. She could feel tears dripping down her face, saliva pooling in her mouth and there was death at her back and she couldn’t even shout a warning. She sucked in a deep breath that nearly gagged her.
“Sam!” she screamed. The word exploded out of her. Her ears popped. “Dad!”
They turned, saw her tearing down the block towards them, saw them freeze in their tracks. Frantically, Val waved at them.
“Get back!” she shouted, her voice breaking at the end. “Get back inside!”
Her father tossed the keys to Sam then ran towards Val as if his hair was on fire. Val had never seen her father run before, and she couldn’t believe how fast he was moving. But what was he doing?
“Dad!” she shrieked. “Dad, get back inside, what’re you doing?”
As he raced past her, she saw his eyes, wild and full of things that she couldn’t even comprehend. Distinctly, she heard the collision of two human bodies. She slowed and turned around to find her father grappling with Ed on the sidewalk. They rolled and pulled. Ed tried to punch him but he couldn’t get leverage.
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When you’re caught in traffic, you’ve got nowhere to go…
Val Delton’s life is spiraling and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. Her dad lost his job, her mom works fourteen hour days to pay the bills and yet somehow there are high-end shopping bags and an iPod in her older sister’s room. Naturally, Val becomes suspicious but her sister’s lips are sealed. Then by accident, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret hidden behind her sister’s bright smiles and cool indifference. Val has no idea how far and how deep the repercussions of her sister’s secret will reach but she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. Will she succeed before her sister’s secret destroys everyone she loves?
Her train of thought stopped abruptly as she passed her sister’s room. The door was open but there was no sign of her. Curiously, Val peered inside, the shopping bags on the floor by the bed catching her eye. She frowned then her eyebrows rose when she saw the hot pink iPod on the night table.
Where in the world did she get an iPod?
Before Val could stop herself, she stepped inside the room. She ignored the flash of danger zone in the back of her mind as she picked up the small device. Then she looked down into the closest shopping bag and saw something black and leathery.
She bit back a scream as she whirled around.
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