We welcome back, Melissa Tagg, to the Ponderers! She’s on deadline for another book, but she took the time to answer some of our questions.
First of all, bring us up to date on what’s happening with you!
I’m a former reporter and total Iowa girl, as well as the author of Made to Last and Here to Stay. In addition to my homeless ministry day job, I’m also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. When I’m not writing, I’m generally hanging out with the greatest family and friends ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about my next book. I’m passionate about humor, grace and happy endings.
Which writers inspire you?
I could list a ton of writers here, but I’m going to go with a few who have most impacted me personally, both as a writer and an individual. Susan May Warren. Rachel Hauck. Beth Vogt. Lisa Jordan. Anne Mateer. Five women I so, so, SO look up not only for their amazing writing, but also their faith, kindness and encouragement. All five have, in different ways, invested in me—through teaching, mentoring and prayer. And of course, I adore their books!
What are you working on at the minute?
This week I’m beginning rewrites on my third book, From the Start. I’ve really struggled writing this one. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is that just like any author, I want to get better with every book. But I also wonder if there’s something God has for me in this story that I haven’t grasped yet…and maybe that’s why it’s felt a little more elusive than the other books.
But challenges aside, I’m really excited about the story itself. I’m pairing a former football player and a romance writer. Both are jaded in their own way, but they’re also a ton of fun…especially when they’re together. J
What genre are your books?
Contemporary Romance is the main genre. I often say Rom-Com because I want my stories to be equal parts humor and romance.
What draws you to this genre?
I love to laugh and I love to go awwww, so Rom-Com was a logical choice for me. Plus, as much as I adore historical fiction and oftentimes wish I could write it, my voice fits contemporary so much better. Too, a few years ago I attended a MBT retreat and Susan May Warren asked us what movies we watch over and over as a way of discovering what genre we most fit into. I realized that I re-watch old 1930s and 40s classic rom-coms constantly…so it only makes sense to write in that genre!
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Currently I have a day job, so my writing time has to be squeezed in around that. I’m an early-riser most mornings, so I tend to get up around 5 a.m., have a little quiet time and then get cracking by 5:30ish. I like to squeeze in a good hour to hour and a half of writing before work. Then in the evenings, I try to write for a solid two hours…unless I’m in a deadline-crunch, in which case it can stretch to three, four, five hours. J I also generally write at least two Saturdays a month.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
By nature, I’m very much a plotter. I like to have a plan and know where I’m going with a story. To do that, I use My Book Therapy’s “Book Buddy” and the awesome teaching of Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. But lately I’ve noticed a need to be quite a bit more flexible with the story—especially when drafting. The most amazing part of writing, to me, is when the characters come alive and start telling their own story. So though I do plot, I’m finding that I fall somewhat in the middle of the plotting/pantsing spectrum.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, in general, the hardest thing about writing is balancing it with the rest of my life—day job, friends, family, blogging, marketing, etc. It’s quite the juggling act.
Now if we’re talking technically—the writing itself—the hardest part for me tends to be plot pacing. Which is why I write and tear apart and rewrite and tear apart…etc. I’m a firm believe that every single scene in a book needs to propel the plot forward. So I’m constantly finding myself deleting entire scenes that might be cute and fun, but don’t do anything to further the actual story.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Honestly, the hardest thing about writing Here to Stay was the pressure I felt to do Blake justice. Blake first appeared in my debut novel, Made to Last, and I heard many people say he was their favorite character. So I really wanted him to live up to people’s expectations.
My challenge? In MTL Blake was a fun-loving side character who was quite the goofball. In HTS, I wanted to keep that entertaining side to him, but also show his deeper layers. That required a lot of digging on my part.
Thanks, Melissa for bringing us up to date! You can find our amazing friend in these places: