I’d like to give a big welcome to MELISSA TAGG to my blog.
rem: Hullo MELISSA, Thank you for joining us today.
You have just released a new book! How exciting for you! Tell us about the book, and where can we find it?
MELISSA: My book that just released is called From the Start and it’s the first full-length book in my new Walker Family series. (Although there’s a free e-novella people can check out to get a taste of my made-up town and made-up Walker family. It’s called Three Little Words.) From the Start is about a jaded writer of romantic, Hallmark-esque movies and an ex-NFL quarterback who has lost his career and the woman he thought he was going to marry all in the same day. Ahhh, I love these people. J
Author • Blogger • Speaker
rem: Congratulations on your release! I’ve got my copy of Three Little Words, and look forward to meeting the Walker Family! [ps – my first Melissa Tagg reading experience was One December Night, and I was instantly a fan of her work!]
Melissa, tell us three things about yourself.
- I love classic movies—which probably doesn’t surprise most people who’ve had at least some interaction with me. But my love goes beyond just watching them. I have a ridiculous number of books about Golden Era Hollywood actors and actresses. Seriously, it’s kind of ridiculous.
- I’ve never mowed a lawn. Shocker!
- I have a strange love for washing dishes. I find it peaceful.
rem: Kindred spirits, I too, have a strange love for washing dishes – and for mowing the lawn!
You mention finding our purpose and identity in Christ – and that you love talking about that. So, tell us.
MELISSA: I think it’s one of the easiest things in the world to slip into finding our worth and value in what we do, defining ourselves by a whole list of standards we were never meant to. My greatest value, my purpose and my identity stem from the coolest reality: That I was created by a loving God who is bigger and more amazing than anything I can imagine. That theme has wound its way into all my books, I think, and it’s something I continue to think about and even wrestle with in my personal life.
rem: I am discovering that identity in Him is everything – it defines our purpose and position in the Kingdom.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
MELISSA: In From the Start, both Kate and Colton have a very clear picture in their heads of what their lives should look like. And every decision they make in the first half of the book is an effort to make those pictures a reality. But they both learn, slooowly and at times not so smoothly, that God might be weaving together a completely different picture. That he uses change and circumstance, reshapes broken dreams and heals wounds—that he’s been there, at work, from the start. There’s great peace and confidence in that truth…and, too, excitement. Because when the future or our dream feels blurry to us, it’s pretty great to realize God sees the whole thing in crisp, clear color.
rem: Isn’t that so true, though? Don’t we all have our own “clear picture” of what we think it should look like? And, oh! when that peace and confidence break through, there’s no greater excitement!
Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written and why?
MELISSA: Oh, that’s so hard! Every book is special and means something different to me, actually. And my favorite probably changes depending on what mood I’m in. But right at the moment, just coming off finishing my fourth book, it feels like my favorite…for now. I got to delve into some of my favorite things as I wrote it—small-town reporting, chasing a story, and hint of mystery connected to Charles Lindbergh! I had crazy amounts of fun writing that story!
rem: I guess that’s an unfair question – I couldn’t choose a single a favorite book at all, so many variables – mood not the least of these! LOL
Do you have a favourite quotation?
MELISSA: You know what? I am the worst at inspirational quotes! They never really stick with me and honestly, with social media, we’re constantly seeing quotes in graphic form EVERYWHERE…which I think makes it harder for any one quote to inspire me. BUT what I do remember are quotes from movies! And there’s quote in one of my very favorite movies—The Philadelphia Story—that I adore. Actually, there are a bazillion quotes in that movie that I love. But this is my fave:
“The time to make up your mind about people is never.”
I just love it. It’s a reminder to never put someone in a box, decide he or she can’t change. It’s a reminder to never give up.
rem: I like that a lot, and it’s so true. There’s so much we just don’t know about a person.
What do you most value in a friend?
MELISSA: Well, I love friends who will put up with my quirks. LOL! But one of the things I value most in a friend—and this might be because SO many of my best friends are long-distance—is the ability to get together after months of not seeing each other and feel like no time has passed at all.
rem: Here! Here! I too, have many friends long distance but time and space don’t change the value – of someone who will “put up with my quirks!” LOL
Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
MELISSA: Dogs! Honestly, cats kind of creep me out. Haha!
rem: But, they’re so loveable and sweet!!! [I’m a cat person, I have five!!]
What is your Writing Routine?
MELISSA: Ummm…this is a hard one because depending on the day and season and my schedule and whether I’m under a tight deadline, it varies. But when I sit down to write, I do almost always have either pop or coffee (or both) and water…baby carrots or grapes…comfy pants. And I usually spend the first 10-15 minutes thinking out the scene in my head: my character, the storyworld, the character’s goal in the scene, the obstacles, emotional layering, symbolism/metaphor, how it relates to the main story problem and how it’s going to lead into the next scene.
rem: What are your Top Writing Tips?
- Join a writing community—and not just a community of writers, but a community of people committed to learning and growing in the craft of writing. For me, that’s been My Book Therapy (hands-down the best thing I ever did for my writing!) and ACFW.
- WRITE—don’t just talk about writing.
- Blog—I know a lot of people say blogging is dead or they don’t want to take time away from their stories. But truly, nothing helped me find and develop my voice more than blogging. I know it’s not for everyone, though. For those who don’t like it, maybe try journaling…might have the same effect!
- Embrace rewrites—whoever said writing is rewriting totally nailed it. There’s something exciting and adventurous about writing that draft. But for me, the real magic happens during revisions. It’s when you get to take something messy and turn it into something brilliant!
rem: Messy into brilliant – love it!
Tell us a little about your writing journey.
MELISSA: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I really got serious about not just writing a novel, but learning the craft and pursuing publication. I mentioned above that the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing is join My Book Therapy…and it’s true. Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck are masters at the craft of storytelling. I can’t recommend their teaching highly enough. I attended several MBT retreats that year and then went to my first major writing conference in 2010. I won a contest that year, too, which was pretty fun.
I spent the next couple years working on my book and growing in the craft and then in 2012, that’s sorta when the doors starting flying open. An editor from Bethany House connected with me online, I signed with my agent (the amazingly awesome Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary), my first book went to the pub board at Bethany and by the end of summer 2012, I had my first contract. It was a total whirlwind and there is exactly zero doubt in my mind it was the result of God opening the right doors at the right time!
rem: I sure am enjoying the journey, and the learning – of course, I now have to check out My Book Therapy!!
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
MELISSA: I loooove telling stories. I really do. I love how characters form in my head and by the end of the drafting process, feel so incredibly real to me. I’ve now written two full novels and a novella set in Maple Valley, Iowa, and I can’t tell you how REAL it all feels. I actually went into a bit of withdrawal when I turned my most recent book in!
But I also love the other side of it all…when the book is out there in the world, getting to hear from readers. That’s just an amazing and impacting thing…much more impacting than I realized it would be! There are so many times I’ve teared up reading emails from readers. I hope readers never underestimate the power they have to encourage their favorite authors!
rem: What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
MELISSA: For me, it’s balancing writing with the rest of my life. I have a full-time day job and my family and friends are pretty spread out at this point. So just keeping it all together feels like a LOT sometimes!
rem: Now that From the Start, is released into the big wide world, what is your current project?
MELISSA: My current project is the second in the Walker Family series—Like Never Before. It’s the story of Logan Walker, a former reporter-turned-speechwriter, and Amelia Bentley, the editor of the small Maple Valley newspaper. I had soooo much fun drafting this book. I just turned it in to my editor last month and I’ve already received my rewrite notes. So I’m excited to dig back in and pretty-up this story.
rem: Melissa, congratulations again on your release, and thank you so much for being here today!
#melissatagg, #authorinterview, #NEWRELEASE, #FromtheStart, #ThreeLittleWords, #LikeNeverBefore