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’s 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 (not that she’s biased), watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next story. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.
When did you decided that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?
I have always wanted to be an author. I loved books as a child and at some point my little kid brain realized that somewhere out there were people writing these books I loved. So I decided I’d do the same one day. That dream never left me.
What’s your pet peeve?
People who give me mean looks at stoplights when I’ve got my music loud in my car. I’m sorry, I like to blare Needtobreathe when I drive!
What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
I don’t embarrass too easily, but I’ll never forget winning an award, going up to give my speech and blurting out “holy crap.” Not exactly the composed speech I’d hoped to give.
What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
The biggest challenge has definitely been balancing my writing life with my fulltime day job with my attempts at having a social life. Juggling is hard, and this past year especially has been a challenge. But I keep thinking God doesn’t get us started on a path only to abandon us halfway down the road. So when my schedule gets overwhelming, I try to remember I’m not in this alone.
How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
Ohhh those pesky reviews. I don’t yet have the self-control of some authors who just plain never read reviews. I definitely skim reviews and if I see a one- or two-star review, it’s similar to watching a scary scene in a movie when you know you should look away but just can’t. J Honestly, though, I have been blessed with somewhat thick skin…I don’t tend to dwell too long on negative reviews.
The couple times a not-so-great review has managed to get under my skin, I try to remind myself that not every story is for every person. And that very likely, the person writing the negative review doesn’t have anything against me personally…and also probably has no idea that the book they trashed was a piece of my heart. To them it’s just, you know, another book. I remind myself of all that…and then go eat ice cream.
What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
Well, I’m still very much a newbie, but I think finishing my third book has been my biggest success so far. I have no idea what reader reaction will be to this story (From the Start, releasing April 2015) but it was definitely the hardest thing I’ve written so far…so simply getting it done feels like a massive success.
What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?
- Definitely, definitely focus on learning the craft…and the best way to do that is through joining a writing organizations like My Book Therapy. Hands-down one of the best things I ever did for my writing was to learn from award-winning authors like Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck who know the craft inside and out. Plus, the community and friendships I’ve formed through MBT are amazing.
- Find a craft partner…it doesn’t have to be someone who regularly critiques your work, although that can be beneficial too. But for me, simply having a craft partner to brainstorm with, to text when I’m stuck or frustrated, to share goals and prayer requests with, that’s such a wonderful thing. I have both a craft partner and a small group of writing friends who I work with and I can’t imagine doing this writing thing without them!
- Trust God. I know, it can sound like the most trite thing ever. And I’m great at talking about trusting God and not always so good at doing it. But I really, really believe he is capable of opening the coolest doors at the best times. There’s a lot of peace and rest that comes from handing our dreams over to him.
As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?
Ooh, that’s a big question. I guess I’d like my legacy to be summed up in one word: love. I’d like to be remembered as someone who loves God and the people around me and who puts Gods love for us on display through my stories.
What is your current work in process?
I just turned in the rewrites on my third book, From the Start, which releases next year. It’s about a jaded romance scriptwriter and a wounded ex-football player. She’s hungry for what she thinks is gritty, real life…and he just wants to keep living in the make believe world of his past fame.
Next up is book four which I’m plotting as we speak.
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