Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Author Melissa Tagg ~ And a Six Author Giveaway

Today I'm thrilled to finally welcome my good friend Melissa Tagg to my blog! Melissa is here to tell us a little about her writing journey and the new release of her debut novel Made to Last. I can't wait for you to "meet" Melissa. She's a lovely lady and a wonderful writer who just happens to be an incredible friend, as well.
 
Melissa and me at ACFW in September
Melissa's guest post is the fourth in a six week author spotlight series I'm doing here. Week one I hosted author Jody Hedlund, week two I hosted author Laura Frantz, and week three I hosted author Wendy Paine Miller. Check back here each Wednesday for a new author. At the bottom of this post I'll tell you how you can win a fun gift basket from these six authors!
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Melissa, I'm so excited that you're a guest on my blog today! I've been waiting a long time to have you here to talk about your debut novel, Made to Last!
 
For readers who might be "meeting" you here for the first time, can you give us a quick history lesson on your publication journey?
 
Sure…I started writing seriously in fall 2009 when I attended a My Book Therapy Storycrafting Retreat led by the fabulous Susan May Warren. Total game-changer in my writing life. I started pursuing publication, then, in fall 2010 when I attended my first ACFW conference. Early 2012 is when doors really started opening. First an editor from Bethany House contacted me after following me on Twitter and reading my blog. She invited me to send in a proposal—I sent two. :) And eventually sent both books.
 
Around the same time, I received a scholarship to attend the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. There I connected with Chip MacGregor—and following that, had phone calls with both him and one of his agents, Amanda Luedeke. In June 2012, I signed with Amanda. Two weeks later, we found out one of my books was going to the pub board at BHP. Two weeks after that, BHP offered me a two-book contract.
 
In other words, 2012 was a really good year. J
 
It's been so much fun watching the last couple years of your journey unfold. I was thrilled when I could finally hold Made to Last in my hands! What sparked your idea for Made to Last? Does the story look the same as you had first envisioned or has it changed a lot since then?
 
Oh man, this story has gone through SO many changes. Some of the characters who made it into the final version didn’t appear in earlier versions and some other characters got nixed early on. Recently someone asked me to submit some deleted scenes from the book and all the earlier pieces came flooding back. It’s amazing the transformation stories go through as we revise. But I think that’s part of what makes stories and storytelling so fun…
 
As for what sparked it, it started with the movie Christmas in Connecticut. It’s a 1945 movie starring Barbara Stanwyck, who has built a fake life for herself…including a fake husband. I thought the storyline was super cute, so I borrowed the pretend marriage angle and ran with it.

We both share a love for old movies, so I'm very familiar with Christmas in Connecticut, and Barbara Stanwyck! I was intrigued when I first heard the premise for your story and I waited a long time to finally read Made to Last! I have to say, it was even better than I had hoped! Each of the characters have distinct personalities and unique stories to tell. One character in particular has gained a lot of attention. Blake "Blaze" Hunziker is Miranda Woodruff's fake husband in Made to Last, but he definitely left many of us swooning! Can you give us a little glimpse into Blake's story in Here to Stay, which releases in May?
 
I would love to. Oh Blake… J
 
So, Blake is the funny guy in Made to Last. But I think (I hope) in MTL many readers will get the sense that there’s more to him than goofiness…that behind the hilarity is a vulnerability and a past he’s been trying to outrun. So in Here to Stay, we see him finally going home to face that past. Right away in the first chapter, you’ll get a glimpse of the weight he’s been carrying around and this desperate desire he has to settle down, live a normal life and make up for the past. Of course, while he’s there he runs into my heroine…a hometown girl who just wants to leave their little tourist town, travel the world, finally live her own adventure.
 
I'm already counting down the days until I find out what happens to Blake!! With book two set to release next year, you can soon say you're a multi-published author! What has surprised you the most about reaching the "published" stage on your journey?
 
Hmm, you know, I think it’s easy as an aspiring author to think once you hit the “published” stage, everything is perfect and you’ve arrived. But actually, the work gets more intense…and frankly, the emotions can get crazier if you let them. :) I’m enjoying this season SO much, but I have felt busier than I ever thought possible. So honestly, I think the most surprising thing has been that feeling of being stretched—mostly in a good way—spiritually, physically and mentally.
 
I was just talking to my hubby about this very subject last night. I think so many of us get a false impression that once we sign a publishing contract (or reach other milestones) it will be smooth sailing. The truth is that no matter what we are pursuing in life, God will use each leg of the journey to teach us a new lesson and grow us in ways we never thought possible.

Here's my last question, Melissa! Just for fun, if you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
 
Haha, if I had to make this decision for real, after crying for awhile, I’d have to go with this frozen mocha dessert I make sometimes. It’s kinda the best dessert EVER—oreo crust and a filling made of cream cheese, chocolate syrup, sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, instant coffee, basically everything that’s fattening and horrible and wonderful. I like a lot of desserts but that one beats out even the best restaurant desserts. I tend to offer to make it for family gatherings just because I want it…and because I love licking off the spatula after whipping up the filling.
 
I have a few of those special desserts too! I think mine would have to be Monster Cookies. :)
 
Thank you so much for being here today, Melissa. I'm praying for Made to Last, as well as Here to Stay, and all the other books you'll write in the future!
 
Melissa has graciously agreed to give away a free copy of her new release, Made to Last, to one of the blog readers who comments on this post between now and Tuesday, October 22nd at 11:59 p.m. Please leave your email address under your comment!
 
A QUESTION FOR MY BLOG READERS: If you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
 
Last weeks winner of The Disappearing Key, by author Wendy Paine Miller is:
Wilani Wahl
Congratulations, Wilani! I'll be contacting you soon.
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Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?
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Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her work as a grant writer and communications coordinator at Iowa’s largest homeless ministry, she also serves as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Melissa blogs regularly at Melissa Tagg  and loves connecting with readers on Facebook , Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg), Youtube and Goodreads.
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Six Authors, One Grand Prize
The Grand Prize:
A $25 Amazon eGift Card (not pictured) from Gabrielle Meyer
A stationary and notepad set from Jody Hedlund
A handmade jewel bookmark from Laura Frantz
A multi-colored peacock necklace from Wendy Paine Miller
A copy of the movie Christmas in Connecticut from Melissa Tagg
Book one in the Cadence of Grace Series & a worship CD from Joanne Bischof
A black & brown scarf from Heather Day Gilbert
Over the course of six weeks I will be hosting six authors on my blog. Each author has agreed to offer a free copy of their newest release, as well as an item for a grand prize drawing at the end of the six weeks! To be entered to win a free copy of each book, all you need to do is visit my blog weekly (beginning September 25th) and comment on each author's post. A random winner will be chosen each week. To be entered to win the grand prize, visit my Rafflecopter below and follow the instructions. If you do each thing listed you'll earn 45 chances to win the grand prize! Don't forget to visit here each Wednesday to earn more chances!
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

70 comments:

  1. Great interview, ladies.

    Favourite dessert, gee that's a hard one as there are so many. I'm a bit of fan of French pastries so a St Honore would probably be my pick. Little parcels of custard filled pastry with chocolate, toffee and cream.

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    1. Ohhh, my stomach is growling right now, Ian. My yogurt and granola breakfast suddenly feels a little pathetic. :)

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    2. You had me at custard and chocolate...:)

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  2. Thanks for the interview and giveaway ladies!
    A favorite dessert... tough to choose. Sweets are my downfall. I love a good cheesecake, or just about anything chocolate!

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    1. Cheesecake is always a winner with me, too.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Patty! Cheesecake is one of my favorites.

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  3. Made to Last arrived in my post office box yesterday! Color me happy. I read the first chapter and love the setup. Can't wait to read the rest of the story. I know I'm gonna love it.

    If Melissa drops by, I have a question for her. How did you go about learning what you needed to know to depict a female contractor? Do you like to build things yourself, or is that aspect of the story totally fictional?

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    1. I so hope you enjoy the rest of the book, Keli! :)

      To answer your question, I don't know anything about building things. I'm not crafty or building-savvy myself. So to write this, I did lots of internet research. The "This Old House" website was super helpful...I watched a bunch of how-to videos on there. I also did lots of random googling. For instance, in that first chapter, Miranda talks about smoothing out dents in wood using an iron...found that random trick online. :) Later on she describes crown molding installation--a "This Old House" video got me through that one.

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    2. You'll love it, Keli! And great question for Melissa!

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  4. Oooh, one dessert for the rest of my life! Hm. I am very fond of coconut cream pie (I ate an entire pie myself the week my daughter was born...cravings, you know...hee). But of course chocolate is wonderful, too. I might have to say Little Debbie Fudge Rounds, however. Those things hold a special place in my heart. And so thrilled about your book, Melissa--I honestly think your covers are some of the most innovative and fun/real-looking covers I've seen for a while! LOVE THEM!

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    1. Oh thanks, Heather. I love my covers too. A lot. Can't take any credit. It's all the fabulous work of the Bethany House people--they are amazing to work with, that's for sure.

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    2. Heather, I agree about Melissa's covers! And I know a thing or two about cravings. :) Little Debbie snacks are sinfully delicious, although I don't think I've ever had a fudge round. My favorite Little Debbie snacks are the cream filled oatmeal cookies...mmm...

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  5. I am a cheesecake fan all the way; any kind! rmaney@firstarpchurch.org

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    1. I think I'm starting to see a theme here. :) Cheesecake is definitely a good choice!

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  6. Favorite dessert is death by chocolate / I don't think this needs any explanation :)
    Stimmer@familylife.com

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    1. Mmm, I don't know the specifics of this dessert, but would eat it based on its name alone.

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    2. Um, I don't know this dessert, either, but I'm thinking it has to be practically perfect...please share recipe, Sharon!!!

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  7. Great interview! Of course, I knew most of it but it's great to hear it all again, Mel! :) hehe.

    You're killing me with talk of dessert since I'm trying to limit my dessert intake. LOL. But ice cream. Definitely ice cream. Probably Oreo Blizzards from Dairy Queen...

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    1. Remember when we had that huge dinner at that sweet restaurant in Phoenix...and then topped it off with blizzards?? Haha!! I want to come visit you again. SOON!

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    2. I know, Lindsay! I couldn't think of interview questions that I didn't know the answers to, but then I remembered that this interview is for my blog readers and not me. :) And my mind instantly went to the DQ cake we shared during our summer retreat! Next time I'll have to get an Oreo Blizzard cake!!! And keep up the good work eating healthy!!!!

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    3. Oh my goodness, that ice cream cake was amazing. :)

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    4. It was amazing. My favorite is ice cream with chocolate syrup and nuts. My favorite go to dessert ever!

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  8. I would pick cheesecake because there are a lot of different flavors of that, hehe!

    Can't wait to read Here to Stay. I so loved Blake, and am glad to get his story too!

    Beth

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    1. Yay, I'm glad you're looking forward to Here to Stay. I just turned in the edits to that book last week...not sad to have it off my plate for awhile, but I will admit, over the weekend I actually started to miss Blake a little... :)

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    2. Cheesecake seems to be the popular option, Beth! And I can't wait to read Blake's story, either!! I had to giggle, Melissa! I know what you mean about missing characters. It's fun to pick up a book I've written after a few months and get reacquainted with my characters. :)

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  9. Thanks so my for the interview and giveaway! It was fun. :)

    Hmmm...maybe BlueBell ice cream...or gooey butter cake... or cheesecake

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    1. I love ice cream, too! But what is gooey butter cake?!?! I'm thinking that sounds amazing! :)

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  10. Thank you for the interview. I am definitely wanting to read your book. I am excited about this giveaway.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the interview. :)

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    2. Glad to see you here, Wilani! Did you see you win a copy of Wendy Paine Miller's The Disappearing Key? Congrats!

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  11. Thanks for the interview it was fun! But the question? Not so fun :( only one dessert!?! But if I had to choose I'd pick a simple homemade apple pie. Can't ever go wrong with that! :)

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    1. I love difficult questions!! :) Anything homemade is usually wonderful and at the top of my list. Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Looking forward to reading this book! Enjoyed the interview.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda! I know you'll enjoy Made to Last. It's a great story with memorable characters. :)

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  13. I enjoyed hearing about your journey to publishing your books.

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    1. Jan, the publishing journey looks different for each writer. Melissa has a pretty cool publishing story. :) Thanks for stopping by today!

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    2. Thanks, Jan. It's been a cool journey, that's for sure. :)

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  14. My favorite dessert would have to be pumpkin whoopee pies! I make my own and they are super pumpkin flavor & filling melts in your mouth. Enjoyed interview book sounds great. Thanks.
    mcnuttjem0(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Mmmm! I just had a piece of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and it melted in my mouth! Pumpkin whoopee pies sound amazing!!

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  15. Lovely interview! Thank you for the giveaway...I love Christmas in Connecticut!! My fav. dessert? Speculaas. I love spice and I made these special cookies when I was doing a report on Christmas in the Netherlands and have loved them since then..;)
    Blessings,
    Juli
    emeraldelena@hotmail.com

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    1. Julianna, I've never heard of Speculaas. Isn't it fun to discover something that will become a favorite while doing research? Sounds yummy!

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    2. Yay, another Christmas in Connecticut fan!

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  16. What a fun interview, ladies! Melissa, your dessert sounds absolutely decadent! :) I think if I had to choose only one (and it had no side effects) I would go with my flourless chocolate torte topped with raspberry sauce. One of my faves. :)

    Gabrielle, what a great thing you're doing here! I'm sorry I missed earlier posts. I'm looking forward to going back and checking out your previous authors.

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    1. Ohhhhh chocolate and raspberry together is one of my favorite combinations in the entire world. :)

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    2. Jeanne, your torte sounds divine!! But I love chocolate. :) I've had a blast with all these authors. It's been fun hosting then and meeting new readers along the way. I have two more coming up--I hope you'll get a chance to stop back and visit again!

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  17. I think that if I had to choose one dessert, it would be my daddy's lemon slice ice cream.

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    1. Ooh that sounds refreshing. :)

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    2. I agree with Melissa! Ice cream AND lemons?!?! Yum. :)

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    1. I had some tiramisu at a restaurant in Indy recently that was to die for. So. Good. :)

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    2. I've only had tiramisu a few times. It's a decadent dessert.

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  19. I love these interviews, Gabrielle! Ahh, Melissa, I'm familiar with your favorite dessert...it's delicious! No need to put me in for the free giveaway. I had Made to Order delivered to my Kindle this morning. I can't wait to read it!

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    1. Jill, you'll love Made to Last! The characters are so memorable and spunky. :) Enjoy!

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  20. Great interview now the question, ummmm if i have to choose one desert i would have to say Carrot Cake , my daughter makes the best with loads of nuts and raisens.
    Shirley B jcisforme@aol.com

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    1. Again, another great choice that has some redemptive qualities (health wise)!! I love carrot cake, but I think it's the cream cheese filling that I enjoy the most. :)

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  21. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!!! Hmmmm...that's a tough choice...but I'd probably have to say chocolate. Anything chocolate is good!

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  22. So I'm thinking I would pick cotton candy...does that work as a dessert? ;) Otherwise, I may have to think about it for awhile!

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  23. Hi, Melissa & Gabrielle!

    Choosing a favorite dessert is like trying to choose a favorite child - I love most ALL of them! But - will go with coca cola cake, the icing is SO fudgy!

    Thanks for the fun post, ladies - looking forward to reading Made to Last, Melissa! Have read so many wonderful reviews, & lots of wonderful comments about you - as well!

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  24. One Dessert.... I love pumpkin strusel muffins and they are healthy too so I would pick those. So great on a cool fall day ! Looking forward to your book in the coming days.
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books
    http://www.faithfulacresbooks.wordpress.com
    faithfulacresbooks@gmail.com

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  25. Ice cream probably!
    gatorade635(at)gmail(dot)com

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Your comments are my favorite part of blogging!