Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Melissa!! Will you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I’m a former reporter—loved that job!—turned author. Humor and romance are two of my favorite things, so that’s why I write romantic comedy. I also work full-time for a Christian nonprofit serving those who are homeless and hungry in Iowa. I have the coolest family ever, adore old movies and have met both a Secret Service agent and an FBI agent. That last part has nothing to do with anything, but it’s fun to say. :)
What is your debut novel, Made to Last, about?
At its core, Made to Last is about discovering who we really are and in the process, finding a faith and love that’s, well, made to last. :) Here’s the premise:
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?
What is something the average reader wouldn't know about you?
Let’s see, I’m going to guess most readers don’t know I once saved a goat’s life. At a fair. While everyone else was watching a runaway cow. Yes, it’s an exciting story.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Oh, I’m your typical “I’ve always wanted to be a writer” girl. As a kid I was (and still am) a definite bookworm. Somewhere along the way, I realized someone wrote these stories I loved…and I decided I wanted to do the same.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Whenever I’m stuck in a scene, I pop in an episode of Gilmore Girls. For some reason, the quirky and quick-paced dialogue on that show always gets my brain going again. I can watch it for just fifteen minutes and suddenly be refueled and ready to write again. (And to any fellow Gilmore Girls fans, I am always up for a Dean v. Jess v. Logan debate. And I’m always going to vote Jess.)
Where do you like to write?
I write in every room of my place, but I do have an actual writing room which is where I do the bulk of my writing. I also like to camp out at coffee shops now and then. But my favorite place to write is at my mom and dad’s house, in their sunroom overlooking their backyard ravine. It’s so peaceful there. And there’s no wi-fi (i.e. so much less distraction)!
What is the best and/or worst part about being a writer?
The best is definitely that feeling of knowing I’m doing what I was created to do. I believe storytellers, artists, songwriters—really, all of us in some way or another—get that creative bent from the ultimate Creator. So I love that.
The worst part, no question about it, is writer moodiness. :)
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love hanging out with family and friends, playing games and watching old movies. I also read, paint and play piano. And sometimes I like to pretend I’m good at sports, too, and whack around a racquetball or put my ridiculously long arms to good use in a game of basketball.
What is your favorite genre to read and why?
Ooh, that’s hard one because I love quite a few genres. I love a good rom-com, of course. But I also enjoy both contemporary and historical fiction, the occasional suspense and even a fantasy now and then.
Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?
Oh, so many places. Ireland. Prince Edward Island. Italy. Russia. (I have no idea why, but Russian history fascinates me.) And I’m dying to go back to England and Scotland someday…SOON!
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
For sure. Romans 15:13 is one of my faves—it talks about the God of hope filling us with peace and joy as we trust in him. I also love 2 Thessalonians 1:11, especially as its paraphrased in The Message: “Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you.”
Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?
Another hard one. Can I give my favorite band instead? Coldplay is my favorite band ever, ever, ever (partially out of nostalgia for the time I spent in London), with Needtobreathe as a close second.
As for movies, I am slightly over-the-top in my love for classic movies. If Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn or Jimmy Stewart stars in it, I probably have it memorized. I also adore What’s Up Doc, a screwball comedy from the early 1970s, which was actually partially inspired by Bringing Up Baby—another favorite from the 1930s with Grant and Hepburn and…and now that you’ve got me talking about this, I may not stop and you may regret asking the question… :)
What is your favorite holiday?
Presidents Day. Just kidding! I mean I like presidents and all, I just think it’d be funny if that really was someone’s favorite holiday. But no, mine is probably Christmas. I love everything about it.
A few this-or-that questions:
Snowstorms or Thunderstorms? OOH, probably thunderstorms BUT living in Iowa, I’ve come to accept and even embrace the occasional (or, fine, frequent) snowstorm as well.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate!!
Tea or Coffee? Coffee, for sure. But I did get finally hooked on tea in London.
Call or Text? Usually, text.
Cats or Dogs? Dogs. I love them. I do not like cats. Now, if kittens didn’t grow up, that’d be a different story, but cats…shudder.
Early-bird or Night-owl? Both! I’m totally serious. I used to be solely a night owl but a couple years ago I trained myself to become a morning person. But I still love late nights. Thus, sleep and I are a little strangerly at times.
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook is my fave, but I’ve made room in my life for Twitter, too.
Sneakers or Sandals? Sneakers. Here’s the thing: I trip in sandals. I don’t know what it is, but I do. So, for my own safety, sneakers.
Are you currently working on any new novels? If so, could you give us a hint?
I’m currently working on rewrites for my second book, Here to Stay, which will release from Bethany House on May 1, 2014. It features one of my favorite side characters from Made to Last.
Thank you so much for being here! Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers and where can we find you on the web?
Well, I’d love to simply say THANK YOU to readers. I always knew it’d be exciting to have a book published. What I didn’t know was how amazingly blessed I’d be by readers…I’ve found a sort of author-reader kinship with so many, and I can’t tell you how much I cherish that.
As for where readers can connect with me, here are my main online hangouts:
My website/blog: www.melissatagg.com
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