CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – MELANIE FAGAN
“Every experience is a layer on His fingerprint of our life. Each one unique and each one meant to reveal awe and reverence.”
“I love to help others nurture their faith and creativity while discovering the beauty and grace of Jesus, beyond chronic illness and hardships.”
rem: Welcome to my blog, Melanie. Tell us a little about yourself.
MELANIE: I’m a wife (23 years) and a mother of two amazing daughters. I love all things beautiful, fun, and creative. Chronic illness and pain try to monopolize my days, but through faith and God’s guiding, He offers hope, always.
rem: So sorry about your illness. With RA, I can well empathize. #warriorstogether Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
MELANIE: I was raised in Northeast Ohio and now live in Wisconsin. In 2004 my husband and I sold our farm in Ohio and headed west. At the time we were a single income, homeschooling family. The career opportunity was perfect allowing my husband to play a larger part in the upbringing and education of our daughters.
rem: Tell us three things about yourself.
MELANIE: 1) I love to learn. I think I discovered this while homeschooling youngsters. It was imperative to me to instill a love of learning in them. In doing so, I discovered a whole new world of always learning new things, things I did not learn in school. This has proven to be very helpful in writing and blogging.
2) I love photography. I have a very deep and meaningful story as to why this art form stirs my soul.
3) I am working on putting in an art studio in my basement. I am looking forward to having a space of freedom. You know, leaving supplies out and creating whenever the fancy strikes. I see some mixed media work in my future.
rem: I, too, love to learn and wish I had been half as passionate when I was younger! LOL Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?
MELANIE: I must have a cup of coffee every morning. I love it with a splash of maple syrup and coconut milk. If I’m feeling adventurous, I will add some amaretto (almond) extract. I also love tea a collecting addiction with it. Just ask my friends. My favorite tea right now is the Bigelow Pumpkin Spice. It is by far the best pumpkin spice anything I’ve ever had.
rem: Might have to give the tea a try! Superman or Batman?
MELANIE: Neither. Captain America all the way. I am a Marvel girl.
rem: Ha! Good one! Vacation: beach or mountains?
MELANIE: Beach. I love Lake Superior, so any beach along its shores will do just fine.
rem: I’ve seen that lake from the air and honestly I (half) wondered if the pilot had gone the wrong way and we were over the ocean! :-O What is your favourite quotation and why?
MELANIE: “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Romans 8:28
This verse is a constant reminder of hope. When life gets hard, and I don’t understand, it helps me to remember He is in control. And that maybe one day something good will come from the ashes.
rem: I used that in my devotional on Sunday! It’s so true! What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
MELANIE: That they are genuine. I’m not one for games and drama, life it too short.
rem: I agree! If we don’t have our integrity, what do we have left? Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
MELANIE: The Bible. I did not pick up my first Bible until I was 27 years old. My second most read books would be Anne of Green Gables. I did not pick that one up until about five years ago. I just love Anne. I think we each have an inner Anne striving to get out.
rem: Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
MELANIE: Lysa Terkeurst, Stormie Omartian, Max Lucado, Chuck Swindoll; Non-fiction Christian.
rem: I have a theory, fiction readers don’t read (much) non-fiction, and non-fiction readers don’t read (much) fiction—n’ere the twain shall meet! Seriously, though, those are some good names and I do know they write powerful stuff. What would you do if you weren’t writing?
MELANIE: Art and photography. In fact, I hope to combine all three.
rem: They do go together quite beautifully. Tell us a little about your writing journey.
MELANIE: I used to write unit studies for my kiddos and other homeschoolers. Little did I know this was the beginning of an excavation process. Then, to sell unit studies I needed a website, so I created one. Yes, this was before the term blog or WordPress were invented. Eventually, my children and I outgrew the unit studies.
I soon discovered I missed the creativity of writing and started a blog. For years I hobby blogged. (rem: love that term, hobby blogged!) Occasionally I shared pictures or posts of encouragement with family and friends. During this time life was hitting me pretty hard, and I struggled with ways in which to cope. God placed writing a book on my heart out.of.nowhere. I didn’t tell a soul, after all… me, write a book? Crazy talk! Then, about a week or so later a close friend suggested I write a book. That was the affirmation I needed.
Here we are two years later, a house built, and two major surgeries in the last year… and I am close to publishing.
rem: That’s quite some journey! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
MELANIE: Currently, my routine is a bit all over the place. I feel like I have a lot to do in a short amount of time. I have lists of what I want to accomplish each day, week, and month. I have a sticky note wall, literally. Once the book is published, I plan on creating a routine that better balances work and life.
Up until about a month ago, I wrote where ever I was comfortable. On the couch, locked in a bedroom, or outside. However, my laptop died. For now, I am stuck on the desktop. I find it therapeutic to write in a blank art journal. It tends to be my most creative process where ideas and words flow into a sense of meaning. From there, I go to the computer and turn them into blog posts, chapters, or inspirational photos.
rem: I may need to rephrase this question—I don’t think anyone I’ve interviewed has a really set routine! LOL What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
MELANIE: My biggest struggle is time. I feel like there never is enough of it to complete everything that needs to get done. From the actual writing to the marketing and social media to the images and managing all of the accounts….yikes.
rem: I.HEAR.THAT. How do you handle it?
MELANIE: I trust. Blogging is a fast and constantly changing world. I think it’s impossible to achieve what it appears like everyone else is doing. Erasing that standard of what success looks like from the outside looking in, is key. Doing what I can day by day and trusting God with the details is how I protect my joy.
rem: And doing what He places in our heart to do, as individuals. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
MELANIE: I can’t believe I am saying this, but I think the editing. Because, that means I am closer to moving on to more creating.
rem: I like that perspective on editing! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
MELANIE: Connecting and encouraging other people. Since I write non-fiction, I love knowing that God can take a situation, give me the words in which to share it and then possibly help someone through the process. It’s very humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time. I have a small Facebook group that has fostered some great online friendships as well.
rem: Oh yes, the connecting and friendships! Tell us a little about your latest book?
MELANIE: Amidst chronic illness, debilitating pain, and grief, I believe there is still hope, healing, and peace. It’s about me coping with some hard circumstances and witnessing God transform them into grace and beauty. Awakening to Beauty in Our Midst guides you through ten key steps using story, scripture, and prayer that will spark your creative spirit through Jesus in a solid, Biblical way. In each step you may discover a calm peacefulness and purpose within your soul; transforming the way in which you cope and honor the Lord with your life, your struggles, and your gifts.
rem: Melanie, again, I’m so sorry for your pain. But as your favorite quotation says, Abba can and will and is making something beautiful from it. Your website is filled with encouraging posts of hope and creativity. Talk a little bit about what inspires you.
MELANIE: First, thank you. It makes me very happy to know this is what the website offers my readers.
As to where my inspiration comes from, I honestly feel it comes from teaching my eye, my mind, to see. In every situation, there is a Jesus side. In order to remain faithful and not hardened by the trials of this world, I need to try and always seek Him.
I love being out in nature, spending time with my daughters creating, loving on my kitties, anything that calms my soul, inspires me. Light and color are two more tools of inspiration. They’re magical on so many levels. Whether it’s God’s word, photography, any form of art, or witnessing the light and love of the Lord in a moment, it inspires me to stop, notice, and share.
rem: Melanie, that’s so beautiful. And of course, I have to ask about Moose. What is his story.
MELANIE: I’ve known Moose for about five years. He was a barn cat (one of about 30) where my daughter boarded her horse. Every time my husband would come to the farm with us, Moose would climb all over the outside of the car trying to get to him. This past January, I scooped him and another fella, King Tut, up in my car and rescued them from a very harsh winter and some neglect. Absolutely one the best decision I’ve made. They are such awesome companions who have made an amazing transition to indoor life. They know they have it good.
rem: What a precious story! I am a bona fide cat lover! What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
MELANIE: That the noticing is as meaningful as air; that we’re constantly invited into a deeper communion with our Creator.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. You have great questions and have made this process very enjoyable!
rem: Thanks, Melanie. I enjoyed having you today1 And that invitation is always available, none is ever turned away!
“I seek to find beauty, healing, and creativity daily. My passions are first and foremost, Jesus, my husband, and my two daughters. I strive to make the best of multiple chronic illnesses through faith, photography, writing, and encouraging others.”
Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Melanie Fagan, She Breathes Hope, Life’s Creative Journey, Noticing God’s Grace