I first met Melissa Tagg at ACFW Conference in Dallas last year. Well in fact I was sitting amongst 700 odd others as Melissa shared a devotional. She was instantly engaging in her passion for Jesus, her sense of humour and willingness not to take herself too seriously.
(As an aside I understand Melissa’s devotional has now gone down in ACFW folklore due to her enthusiastic mention of a certain well known Christian quarterback with the initials TT.)
I had the good fortune to bump into Melissa later that day. I congratulated her and introduced myself most likely with a “G’day”. On returning home I soon started following Melissa’s blog. Melissa posts regularly during the week and has established a large following. Melissa’s blogs read like she spoke that morning in Dallas: full of passion and good humour.
Melissa is now a published author. Her first novel, a romantic comedy, Made to Last, was released at this year’s ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. Now only a few weeks later, the book has 72 reviews on Amazon (wow!) and averages 4.6 out of 5. (Wow and more wow!) So the novel and, I daresay Melissa, have captured the hearts of an immediate audience.
Melissa is busy on her blog tour and has been kind enough to share her thoughts on a few questions I posed.
Who is Melissa Tagg in a few sentences?
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter turned author—well, author by early morning and late night, that is. Nonprofit grant writer and communications girl by day. She’s has the coolest parents and siblings ever, loves classic movies and traveling and no matter where she lives, will probably always be a Midwest girl at heart. Also…she sort of gets a kick out of talking in third person.
What’s one thing about Iowa that Aussies will love to know.
Oooh, so many directions I could take this answer. 🙂 For starters, Iowa grows more corn than any other state…and actually grows three times as much corn as the entire country of Mexico. Score! Both Donna Reed and John Wayne were born here…and I just learned last week that Cary Grant died here.
Huh! And you’re obviously one for interesting tidbits when it comes to corn and movie stars. We’ll get to that in a moment but first could you share a little about your publishing journey?
Sure thing. I started writing seriously in the fall of 2009 when I attended a My Book Therapy story crafting retreat—definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done for my writing. I started pursuing publication the following year when I attended by first ACFW. I had some nice things happen during those couple years—won a contest, finaled in another, had some agent/editor requests for my stuff.
But it wasn’t until early 2012 that doors really started swinging open. In early 2012, an editor from Bethany House, the fabulous Raela Schoenherr, contacted me after coming across my blog and following me on Twitter. She invited me to send her a proposal—I sent two. In the meantime, I ran into Chip MacGregor at a spring conference and we chatted after a class. A couple weeks after that, he expressed interest in my stuff and we had a great phone call…followed by another phone call with one of his agents, Amanda Luedeke. She is awesome, by the way. I ended up signing with her in June 2012.
Two weeks after that, we learned my book was going to the pub board at Bethany. And two weeks after that, they offered me a two-book contract.
And 15 months later, Made to Last hit the bookshelves. Amazing. I read recently in another Q&A you did God taught you something through the drafting of MTL. Could you share a little about that? Am I correct in saying this underpinned one of the key messages MTL delivers?
Sure! You know, I had a faint idea when I started writing Made to Last that my main character struggled with finding her identity in the wrong things—her career success, her relationships (or lack thereof), etc. But it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that the spiritual theme really gelled in my mind. I was writing a scene in which two characters were arguing and one character asks the other why she’d lied for so long about something…and as I typed her answer, it hit me.
She lied because she wanted to. Because it was easier pretending to be who she wanted to be than who she was. Because without that lie, she didn’t even know who she was.
And while I’ve never lied to a whole country about my marital status (haha!), I am someone who is so often tempted to find my identity and worth in what I do, in achievements or relationships or successes or failures. And it was in that moment, writing that scene, that I was suddenly convinced God had me writing this story for me…
So what’s Made to Last about and what do you want your readers to take away besides what you’ve just mentioned?
At its core, Made to Last is about discovering who we really are underneath all the labels we give ourselves. It’s about a homebuilding TV show host who has built a fake life for herself, including a pretend husband…and the handsome reporter who is shadowing her every move.
It’s a romantic comedy, so I definitely hope people laugh at the humor and swoon a little at the romance. 🙂 But I also really hope it causes readers to stop and think about their own identities and about who they are in Christ.
My copy only arrived the other day so I’m looking forward to reading my first Christian rom-com. I love a good rom-com movie, yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it. “Serendipity” with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale is a movie I never get tired of watching. You’re a big movie buff so what’s your favourite rom-com?
I love Serendipity!! I’m not a big fan of many rom-coms in the past 10-15 years, but I do love that one. And Dan in Real Life…love it.
But my favorites are classic rom-coms like The Philadelphia Story, It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, My Man Godfrey. Oh and What’s Up Doc, which is probably more screwball comedy than rom-com, but oh, I love it.
Your second novel is locked away for publication in 2014. What’s it called and what is it about?
It’s called Here to Stay and comes out May 1 next year. Yay! It’s about Blake Hunziker…the fake husband in Made to Last. I’ve heard from SO many readers already that Blake (who goes by Blaze in MTL) is their favorite character. And as I wrote MTL, little snippets of his back story started coming to me, so I knew I had to write his story next. Here to Stay is all about Blake giving up his crazy adventures, going home to face his past and finally settle down…and the hometown girl, sort of a female George Bailey, who just wants to leave town and find her own adventure.
Final one, which authors are your compulsory reads?
Ooh, Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck and Jenny B. Jones top the list. And ever since I read Angelguard, you! 🙂
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Ian!
Awww … and thank you, Melissa. It’s a special treat to have my first Iowanian along. Now that’s a mouthful. Is that correct for a local from Iowa?
This is Made to Last
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 fiancé 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?
We Aussies love giving novels away. So if you’d like a chance to get your hands on Made to Last please leave a comment below nominating one of your favourite rom-coms while you’re at it. The winner will be notified by email on Friday 11 October.
A little more about Melissa.
Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My BookTherapy. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.
My website/blog: www.melissatagg.com