Sunday, September 1, 2013

Interview with Melissa Tagg, author of Made To Last.

1              Recently I had the opportunity to interview Melissa Tagg, who's debut novel Made To Last, officially releases TODAY! Also, I will have a review of Made To Last coming up soon! Let's get to the interview, enjoy!

        First, why don’t you tell us about your debut novel, Made to Last?

Sure thing—Made to Last is a romantic comedy about figuring out who we are underneath the trappings of success…or lack thereof. :) Here’s the back cover blurb:

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?  

2      Where did you get the idea for Made to Last? Any specific inspirations?

I actually first got the idea for this story while watching an old black and white movie—Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely watch it—preferably around the Christmas season. :) It’s about a magazine columnist who has built a fake life for herself…and ends up needing to find a fake husband, fake kid, fake house, etc. I borrowed that “fake marriage” angle, merged it with an HGTV feel (which is hilarious if you know me because I’m not crafty or builder-y at ALL!) and the characters of Made to Last were born.

3      What was your writing schedule for MTL? And how long did it take to write MTL?

Oh, my writing schedule is wacky! I work full-time during the day, so in order to fit writing time in, I usually wake up around 5 a.m., have a little quiet time and then write for an hour or so in the morning. Then in the evenings, I usually put in two-plus hours of writing or writing-related work. And when I’m not traveling, I like to fit a nice long chunk of writing on Saturdays.

As for how long it took me to write MTL, oh boy…I would say it took me about five or six months to write the first draft of MTL. But then I tore it apart and rewrote it probably three times. :) You know what they say, books aren’t written…they’re rewritten!

4      This is something I ask every author I talk to, when did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

I’m definitely your typical “I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid” girl. In fact, I remember feeling lucky in school that I knew what I wanted to do in the future—I didn’t have to try to figure out some elusive career path! But yes, as a kid I was (and still am) a total bookworm, and somewhere along the way, I realized there were people out there writing these stories I loved. I decided I want to do the same.

      When you were trying to get MTL published did you have any rejections? If so, then what advice would you give to other authors who are trying to get published but are getting nothing but rejections and they feel defeated?

To be honest, I didn’t have any editor rejections on this story, but I have had rejections from agents in the past. Funny thing is, one of those rejections ended up being one of the most encouraging pieces of my journey to publication!

But…I definitely DO understand that feeling of defeat. The winter of 2011-2012 was hard for me. The discouragement didn’t necessarily come from rejection, but I’m pretty sure the feeling was the same—the worry that I was wasting my time and money on something that wasn’t meant to be, that my story would never be good enough, etc. But God used Romans 4 to shift my attitude. It’s SO good, people. Try reading it in The Message paraphrase, especially when you’re having those hopeless moments. It talks about trusting God to do things that are too big for us, embracing His promises, God making something out of nothing—and how all that played out in Abraham’s life.

One of the things Paul talks about in that chapter is how God first “named” Abraham a father…and then later made him a father. And so I started thinking about the names God has given me. At that time, I didn’t know if “published author” was a name He’d given me. But I did know He named me His child…valued…loved…a woman with purpose. I had to stop finding my worth, my identity in my writing. It was just a huge spiritual shift for me.

Sorry, maybe that got too deep, but that was my experience with, well, overcoming that feeling of defeat. So my advice would definitely start with making sure you’re not letting those rejections define you. Let God define you! And then…then just keep going. Keep learning and growing in your craft. Embrace hard work.

6       What do you feel makes a great story?

Ooh, I am all about good dialogue. I love, love, LOVE witty dialogue. And I love a good “voice”—personality on the page, a lot of people call it. That’s always sure to suck me in. I also really appreciate stories with a plot that moves forward in each scene and where the spiritual and emotional journeys feel like a natural piece of the story.

7      For writers like myself, who are just beginning their writing journey what suggestions do you have to help us become better writers? Any little tips or tricks?

Fun question! I’ve actually been given so much helpful advice in my years of writing seriously that it’s hard to choose from the mix.

      Find a writing community to both encourage you and teach you. Getting involved in My Book Therapy was a definite game-changer for me. ACFW is another organization in which I’ve found amazing community and teaching.

      Embrace revisions. Yes, it often feels like the real magic happens during that first draft when you’re discovering your story. But I’ve found the hard work of rewrites is what really brings a story to the next level. It’s a chance to dig deeper character-wise, hone the plot and wordsmith until each scene shines. So do the hard work…don’t be afraid to tear a story apart if you have to.

      Be you on the page. I know, now I sound all cereal box-ish and be-all-you-can-be inspirational. Haha! But seriously…take the time to discover who you are as a writer, your unique voice, the story only you can tell…and let that shine on the page.

Thanks so much Melissa for taking time to hang out with us. And letting us get to know you better. Best wishes to you and the success of Made To Last. God Bless!

And thank YOU, Alyssa. I so appreciate the chance to hang out on your blog! J


  1. Loved this - what fun to "see" you over here hagin' with Alyssa. Cannot wait to get my hands on your novel, Melissa and I love what it was inspired by. All of this makes me think MTL will be a keeper. :)

    1. I think MTL will be a keeper too! Waiting patiently by my mailbox for it to arrive.

    2. Thanks, ladies. Hope your copies arrive soon. :) And thanks so much for having me here today, Alyssa!

  2. Great review and interview. Looking forward to reading it.

  3. What a great interview! Definitely just what I needed to hear on your answer to rejection. So not too deep, because it was the perfect reminder I needed :) Can't wait to read it!!

  4. Thanks for stopping by Diana and Jamie! Please subscribe to my blog, I have many more reviews planned!


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