Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.
Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Melissa! It’s wonderful to have you here!
Savanna: Was there ever a moment while writing “Here to Stay” that your character(s) and/or the plot surprised you and turned the story in an unexpected direction?
Melissa: Oh yes, and those are definitely my favorite moments in a story…when the characters come alive and start telling their own story. Love it when that happens!
There’s one scene in particular in Here to Stay where I remember that happening. There’s a scene where Blake and Autumn go sand-boarding in the coastal dunes. I had planned for it to be this cute, fun scene. What I didn’t plan on was Autumn falling off her makeshift sand-board…and Blake suddenly flashing back to his brother’s death. But as the scene came alive, that’s what happened…it really changed the flavor of that scene AND the way Autumn sees Blake.
Melissa: Well, my surface goal is to always make readers swoon and laugh. It’s romantic comedy, after all. So I want to tell an entertaining story.
But along with the laughter and romance, I hope readers find nuggets of truth. In Here to Stay, specifically, the characters are dealing with painful pasts, the need to forgive and probably most of all, questions about dreams. What do you do when your dreams collide? When the thing you’ve always wanted is at your fingertips…but now a new dream comes swooping in? How do you deal with that feeling of “Am I missing out?” So I hope those questions and themes resonate with readers.
Savanna: Since beginning your novelist career, is there anything you miss from your days as a newspaper reporter?
Melissa: I miss getting out and about in my community and meeting sooo many kinds of people. The best part of reporting was getting to do interviews, learning about so many random things and just being a part of telling someone else’s story. I loved that.
Savanna: So what does your writing schedule look like from day to day? Any helpful tips – or secrets – on how you manage all your writing responsibilities?
Melissa: Well, my schedule tends to vary depending on whether I’m on deadline or not. I’m nearing the end of an intense deadline at the moment, so currently, I get up around 5 a.m. each day and try to squeeze in some writing before work. Then I work my regular 8-4:30 day job. I try to do a couple more hours of writing each night. (Except right now it’s more like 4-5 hours each night…but again, that’s just due to the deadline.)
Hmm, my tips? Well, the first thing I’d say is, get gooood at saying “no.” Especially if you’re writing and working a day job and trying to keep up some semblence of a social life, there are some things you just have to let go.
Too, having a craft partner helps SO much! My craft partner and I don’t do as much critiquing these days. Instead, we help hold each other accountable to our monthly, weekly, even sometimes daily goals. We help keep each other on track. I don’t know what I’d do without her!
Melissa: Haha, well, I love my home state. I have no idea whether or not I’ll live here my whole life, but as long as I’m here, I’ll love it. I love that Iowa gets all four seasons. Yeah, winter can be a little long, but I don’t think I could live somewhere where seasons don’t change as much. I need my change. I love the laidbackness of Iowa. I love how pretty it is—especially in the fall. And most of all, I love that quite a few of my family members are here!
Savanna: What’s one of your favorite things about writing contemporary Christian fiction?
Melissa: Dialogue! I get to have so much fun with dialogue and voice in a way I don’t think I could if I was writing a different genre. I love reading historical fiction, for instance, but writing contemporary allows me to really be myself on the page.
Savanna: I’m in the middle of reading “Here to Stay” right now actually and I’ve noticed that exact thing so many times already. I love your dialogue, your descriptions… it’s all so fun! What project are you working on right now?
Melissa: As I’m writing this, I’m a week and a day out from my deadline for my third book, which is the start of a brand new series set in Iowa. It’s called From the Start and releases in spring 2015. As soon as it’s turned in, I’ll get to work on a novella that will be released before From the Start. It’s called Three Little Words and will bridge my first series and my second. Fun stuff!! 🙂
Savanna: Ohhh, more books coming soon! Yay! Thanks, Melissa, for joining us today and Congratulations on your recent release!
Last, but not least, how can readers keep in touch with you?
Melissa: Thanks so much, Savanna! Readers can connect with me on any of the following links:
Melissa has graciously offered one copy of HERE TO STAY to one lucky winner!
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