"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

Monday, September 2, 2013

"All things funny and romancey" with Melissa Tagg & Giveaway!

Hi everyone! Today I’m back on the blog after a summer hiatus. This week I have a special guest, the delightful and bubbly, Melissa Tagg! Don't you just love her blue eyes? - Yeah, I'm talking to you, Tim Tebow...

Author Melissa Tagg

Melissa’s debut novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House this month! I’m so excited for her! I met Melissa through blogging. Make sure to stop by her blog. It's one of my favorites to visit on a regular basis. You'll find the information to her blog and other places at the bottom of this page. But for now, please extend a big welcome to Melissa Tagg!

By the way, make sure to answer Melissa’s question at the end of the interview. She’s been kind enough to giveaway a copy of Made to Last to one lucky commenter. The contest will end next Sunday night, September 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm cdt, when I will draw the winning name at random. This giveaway is open to USA and Canada residents only. I will announce the winner next on next Monday's post. If you have trouble commenting through Blogger, leave a comment on my Author Facebook Page under the link to this blog post, and that will count too.

Welcome to Gatepost, Melissa! So glad you stopped in for a visit!  

How long have you been writing? Is this your first novel?

I am your typical, "I've been writing since I was a child" author. I've always loved stories and have long dreamed of writing my own. I finally got serious about pursuing a writing career in fall 2009. This is my first published novel, but I did have another completed manuscript written before this one. And here's some encouragement to other authors: That first novel may never see the light of day BUT it's what opened the door for Made to Last to get in front of my editor. 

In your own words, tell us a bit about the book. What is the inspiration behind the novel?

Made to Last is a romantic comedy about figuring out who we are underneath the trappings of success—or lack thereof—and in the process finding a faith and love that’s made to last. It’s about a homebuilding TV show host/DIY guru who’s trying to boost her 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. And shadowing her every move is a handsome reporter whose digging brings him a little too close to the truth—and to her.

As for what inspired it, I love classic movies, and a few years ago I discovered the 1945 movie Christmas in Connecticut starring Barbara Stanwyck. I could not believe I hadn’t seen it before. It’s about a magazine writer who has basically created a fake identity for herself…and ends up needing to find a stand-in husband. Only problem is she ends up falling for someone who is not said stand-in husband. I took that basic “pretend marriage” spark and ran with it.

Is there a sequel or series planned?

There is a sequel! It's called Here to Stay and comes out on May 1, 2014. It features one of my favorite characters from Made to Last. Now, both books could actually be read as stand-alones. You won't have had to read Made to Last to understand Here to Stay. 

They say that there is a bit of each of us in all of our characters. Which character in the book is most like you, and why?

I really want to say Blake/Blaze--he's the fake husband in the story and he is awesome. So I wish I was as adventurous and funny as he is. HA! But actually, I'm most like Miranda Woodruff. Thing is, she's a homebuilding/DIY guru and I'm about as un-DIYish as they come. I can't build things. At all. Dude, buying a new vacuum and putting it together was enough to completely stress me out. So, as far as talents and skills, we are not at all the same.

BUT Miranda's emotional personality very closely resembles mine. I so identify with the emotional and spiritual journey she's on in the story. Which made her both the easiest and the hardest character to write. Easy because I felt like I understood her and could naturally write her responses to situations and obstacles. But difficult because it meant I was sort of experiencing her spiritual highs and lows right alongside her, wading through my own emotions as I wrote hers. 

What do you read for enjoyment?

Everything! Okay, slight exaggeration. I love both contemporary and historical fiction. Some of my favorite authors are: Jenny B Jones, Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Jody Hedlund, Beth Vogt, Becky Wade, Laura Frantz, Lisa Jordan, Anne Mateer and oh my goodness, I could go on and on. I also love Ted Dekker's earlier stuff and re-read his Circle series about once a year. And, silly confession: I love reading biographies/autobiographies/memoirs of studio era Hollywood stars. :)

What is your favorite writing nibble or drink?

Anything caffeinated...haha! I'm weird in that when I'm sitting down to write for a good chunk of time, I need to have a can of Diet Coke with Lime, a mug of coffee and a glass of water all within reaching distance. I like having options, I guess. I'm usually munching on baby carrots, grapes and pretzels. 

Thanks for stopping in, Melissa! It's been really fun learning more about you!

Now Melissa has a question for you…

Since Made to Last is based on a classic movie, I thought I'd ask, what's your favorite classic movie? (And I'm talking golden era. If you haven't seen any from that era, we need to talk. In fact, consider this your official invite to my place for a movie marathon!)

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 Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

During her reporting days, Melissa interviewed presidential candidates and llama farmers, rode a hot air balloon and flew a plane, and once came face to face with a buffualo. But today she gets her kicks by letting her characters have their own fun. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.

Links where you can find Melissa:

My website/blog: www.melissatagg.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/MelissaTagg

Between you, me and the gatepost,



Cynthia Herron said...

Hi Loree and Melissa!

Great interview! Can't wait to read Made to Last! I love Christmas in Connecticut and the premise of your book, Melissa!

I, too, am a classic movie buff! It's fun to connect with others who appreciate some of the best actors/movies of yesteryear.

Some of my faves are: Enchanted Cottage, It's a Wonderful Life, No Greater Love, Magnificent Obsession, Breakfast at Tiffany's, anything with Doris Day, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and ohhhh, soooo many others!

Have a super-blessed day, ladies! :)

Victoria Lindstrom said...

Congratulations to Melissa on her debut novel - it looks awesome! If we're talking a romantic comedy in the golden era, I'd have to say "The Philadelphia Story," starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn - hilarious!

Sylvia said...

I've had my eye on this book ever since I saw the cover. Classic movies are always fun to watch and yes, I have seen Christmas In Connecticut. My favorite classic would probably be The More the Merrier with Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur. Talk about screen kisses. Whew! Wonderful film!


Melissa Tagg said...

@Cynthia--Oh, I love so many of the movies you mentioned. One of my favorite Doris Day movies is the one where her husband is a hypochondriac. What's it called....OH, "Send Me No Flowers." So good! Tony Randall in it is hilarious.

@Victoria, "The Philadelphia Story" is one of my favorite movies! I think it has the best dialogue of any movie ever. And you just can't top Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart all in the same movie. :)

@Sylvia, I just wrote a blog post last week raving about Jean Arthur. I think she's amazing. I haven't watched "The More the Merrier" for a looong time, though. I think I'm due for a re-watch.

Diana montgomery said...

Great interview and review. Looking forward to reading this.

Sandra Orchard said...

Hi Loree, good to see you back! Big wave to Melissa. So looking forward to reading this story. No need to enter me in the giveaway. I'm expecting my copy to arrive any day. Melissa, got to say that I'm impressed that it only took 2 mss before you sold! That's awesome. I think I'd written 3 before I'd even connected with any writing groups, or knew about conferences etc. ;)

I hear Tebow might be looking North for a new team to play on now that he's been let go. Would you relocate to Canada? ;)

Jasmine A. said...

I wanted to read this book before but I JUST HAVE TO now that I know it had inspiration in a classic movie! I haven't seen that one yet but I will be looking for it through the Library etc.
I absolutely can NOT pick just one favorite classic movie, not going to happen. I actually do not watch modern movies or television, one of the last new movies I watched was only because it had Lauren Bacall in it. I love old movies! I think my favorites are 40's, 50's, and early to mid 60's. I know more about classic movies and stars from the Golden Era of Hollywood than I do about newer ones, since I am only 25 I get some funny looks when I tell people that. Since I can't come up with just one favorite a will mention a few that I like to watch and re-watch, The Glass Bottom Boat, Funny Face, Father Goose, Key Largo, Charade, El Dorado (John Wayne), To Catch A Thief, Carefree.... I especially like John Wayne, Cary Grant, Doris Day, Fred Astaire, Maureen O'Hara, and Audrey Hepburn.

You mentioned Hollywood biographies, what is your favorite? Mine is 'Tis Herself (Maureen O'Hara), loved the Doris Day one from the 1970's, Edith Head's Hollywood has some wonderful info in it, and Katharine Hepburn's book about the making of African Queen was great too!

OK, so this is longer than you probably wanted to read. Sorry, this is one subject I just love to talk about.

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful interview and the chance to win!

Jasmine A.

Karen Lange said...

It's great to have you back,
Loree! :) I hope all is well.

Thanks so much for the intro to Melissa, Loree. I enjoyed the interview! :) Wishing Melissa all the best! My favorite old movie is probably Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart.

Happy Labor Day!

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Great interview. This sounds like such a fun book =)

My favorite old movie is The Shop Around the Corner. I also love the newer remake, You've Got Mail. I enjoy that even though they are quite different, you will recognize some of the lines word for word.

Loree Huebner said...

Sorry I didn't appear sooner guys, I HAD to work today...

Cynthia: I love The Ghost and Mrs. Muir!! One of my faves! I love that Christmas in Connecticut is the inspiration for Melissa's book!

Victoria: Philadelphia Story is a great classic, of course, I love Cary Grant.

Sylvia: Welcome here! I haven't seen The More the Merrier...but I'm putting it on my list! Hubby and I love the classics!

Melissa: I agree, hard to top Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart all in one movie.

Diane: Welcome here. I'm so excited to read Melissa's book too. It really looks to be a winner!

Sandra: Thanks for the warm welcome back! It feels good to be back with wonderful company.

Jasmine: Oooh, Key Largo, and the African Queen are two of my all time favs! I watched Key Largo not too long ago. Hubby is a big Bogie fan.

Karen: Thanks, it's great to be back. Isn't Melissa a doll? She just sparkles!

Ruth: Welcome here. I remember A Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Great Classic!

I have so many favorites. Gregory Peck is my favorite classic actor...so I would go with To Kill A Mockingbird as my fav drama classic. I love It's a Wonderful Life, and Casablanca.

Melissa, I just watched a movie with Barbara Stanwyck, but she was evil...Double Idemnity. Ooooh, she and Fred MacMurray plan to kill her husband. She was an awesome actress. I see her every once in a while when channel surfing and I run across The Big Valley. Tough lady!

Thanks to all for stopping in today. You are all in the hat for the drawing this coming Sunday!

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Fun interview, Melissa and Loree! My favorite classic is "Bringing Up Baby", with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. I'm looking forward to reading "Made To Last"!

Patricia Bradley said...

There are so many classics. Probably my favorite is Some Like It Hot. And as I'm expecting my copy of Made to Last soon, don't enter me. Can't wait to read it!

Loree Huebner said...

Gwen: Bringing Up Baby is another great classic with favs Cary and Katherine. I just recently watched On Golden Pond again - first time in many, many years. Katherine was an awesome actress until the end.

Pat: I had hoped to have my copy before this post too. I'm looking forward to reading Melissa's novel!

Gwen and Pat - thanks for popping in!

Melissa Tagg said...

@Diana, thanks! I hope as a launch team member you get your copy soon. :)

@Sandra, waving back! You know, I have to credit My Book Therapy with helping my book sale happen after just two books. I get involved in MBT very early on, so I feel like it helped my writing improve faster. Yay! And it's so sad about Tim! I was so hoping he'd make Saturday's cut...alas...I may just have to make it up to Canada. :)

@Jasmine, oh my, you mentioned SOOO many good movies. You mentioned John Wayne. I just recently rewatched Rio Bravo...man, I love that movie!! I'm not sure I can pick a favorite biography, but definitely one of them is one I've got on Frank Capra. I love it! Oh and I've been meaning to read the one you mentioned about Maureen O'Hara!

@Karen, I love Shop Around the Corner! I've met so many people who like You've Got Mail and don't realize there's an earlier version.

@ Loree, I LOVE Double Indemnity. I took a class once with James Scott Bell and he used that movie to teach story structure. Both Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are awesome in it.

Melissa Tagg said...

@Gwendolyn, Bringing Up Baby is one of my faves, too, and probably one of the very first classic movies I watched as a kid. I used to check it out on VHS from the library over and over. :)

@Pat, ohhh you mentioned one of my favorites. Some Like it Hot is hilarious. Jack Lemmon pretty much MAKES the movie for me. And Tony Curtis putting on a Cary Grant accent... :)

Jamie Lapeyrolerie said...

Great interview! I'm going to steal a previous answers, but I really like To Kill a Mockingbird too! Such a classic book and movie!

Melissa Tagg said...

@Jamie I love both that book and that movie! :)

Loree Huebner said...

Jamie: That's my favorite!

Lynda R Young said...

Ah, to name but one classic movie is difficult, however Sabrina (1954) stands out in my thoughts.
Made to Last sounds like a fun read.

Terri Tiffany said...

Melissa sounds fun! I love reading about first time novelists and want to say how excited I am for her!!

Loree Huebner said...

Lynda: I forgot about Sabrina. What a great pick! Bogie, Hepburn, Holden.

Terri: I'm just thrilled for Melissa too! She deserves all the best.

Heidi said...

I adore Singing in the Rain- the music and dancing are great, and the comedy is hilarious! Congrats on your new book Melissa!


GranTurismo Driver said...

Nice post, great blog, following :)

Good Luck :)

Patty said...

I guess I'm not to familiar with movies from that era. Only Holiday Inn, White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life. Classic Christmas movies... I do love a good musical!


Barbara Thompson said...

Wonderful interview!! How can you not love it's A Wonderful Life. One of my favorite movies is Pretty Woman. I'm not sure how many times I've watched that movie.
Barbara Thompson

Julie Musil said...

Oh my goodness, I must read this book! A fake husband? She falls for someone else? Perfection!

Ok, favorite classic...would "An Affair to Remember" count? Makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. The end? With the painting on the wall? *sigh*

troutbirder said...

Glad to see you back blogging Loree. Interesting interview there...:)

Loree Huebner said...

Heidi: Gene Kelly is one of the all time greats!

Gran: Welcome here!

Patty: I just love the dancing in Holiday Inn. Fred Astair is my favorite dancers from the classics. I just watched him dancing with Susan Hayward in a movie the other night. He is awesome. White Christmas is a must see movie during the holidays!

Barbara: It's a Wonderful Life is just a well-written story that touches the heart. Love it.

Julie: I also love Affair to Remember. Yep, I cry at the end too. Hubs and I watch old movies all of the time. My kids are also classic movie junkies. Movies were different back then, you really had to tell a good story because there were no computer graphics and special effects...So happy for your big news Julie. Congrats!

trout: Thanks Trout! It feels good to be back. It's been a strange summer for our family - we had a very hard loss.

Melissa: I got a copy of your book in the mail yesterday. Thank you! And thank your publisher, Bethany House!

Thanks for stopping in everyone!
I got you all in the hat for the drawing on Sunday. Melissa will be sending book to the winner.

Dawn Turner said...

Great premise for a book, Melissa! It's been years since I've seen that movie. Two of my favorite classics are "Bringing up Baby" with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant and "Hired Wife" with Rosalind Russell & Brian Aherne (I REALLY wish I could get that on DVD). Hubby has watched some of the classics with me and has been surprised at how much better the story lines tend to be than a lot of the TV shows and movies coming out these days. :)

The Garden Swing said...

My favorite classic would have to be "The Shop Around the Corner." James Stewart... Margaret Sullavan... ADORABLE! And the movie "You've Got Mail" is based on this classic. I love the nod to the classic's title, as it's the name of Meg Ryan's shop.

I'm excited to read your book, Melissa!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a wonderful interview. Made to Last sounds like a great novel, and one to add to my reading list. Best of luck with it.
My favorite classic movie might be Casablanca. However, I haven't seen all the greats. This post has inspired me to do something about that. : )

Loree Huebner said...

Dawn: I haven't seen The Hired Wife. I must put that one on my list.

Garden Swing: Welcome here! I knew You've Got Mail (I've only seen that movie once)was based on the classic, but I never realized that Meg Ryan's book shop was The Shop Around The Corner. Thanks for sharing that.

Cynthia: Casablanca is such a good movie. There is so much depth to the story. There are just too many greats.

Dawn, Garden Swing, and Cynthia, thanks for dropping by! Got you all in the hat for the drawing later tonight!