Thursday, April 16, 2015

Introducing … Melissa Tagg

It’s my pleasure to welcome Melissa Tagg as a guest to the ICFW community. I first heard Melissa speak at ACFW in 2012 when she shared a devotional to the entire conference. She was instantly engaging in her passion for Jesus, her sense of humour and willingness not to take herself too seriously.

Three years ago, Melissa was an aspiring novelist. Now she is a published author, having released three romantic comedy novels and a couple of novellas. And she holds down two jobs. I’m in awe of her productivity.

Melissa just launched novel number 3, the first in a new series, From the Start and she was kind enough in her busy launch schedule to answer a few questions I posed.

Without further ado, please welcome Melissa Tagg.

Describe yourself in a few words.

I’m writing and working at my nonprofit day job and soaking up each and every minute of family and friends time I can. I’m still crazy about classic movies and traveling and oh, I’m an aunt again! That’s new! So I’m on the road more than ever visiting family.

This is a global community, and I know you've travelled. Where's your favourite overseas destination and why? And where'd you like to go next?

Yay traveling! I’d have to say my favorite (excuse me, favoUrite) destination so far is London simply because I have so many wonderful memories there. I studied there for a short time and have been back several times since. The friends I made there are just incredible and tend to tug on my heart much more than any landmark or historic site.

But if I was planning a future trip and none of those friends were going to be around, then I’d probably go someplace new. And right now, it’d probably be a toss-up between Italy and Australia or New Zealand. 

We’d love to host you when you make it down under, Melissa. You’ve published 3 novels plus some novellas in less than two years. Please give us a little insight into how you do this plus hold down 2 jobs?

You know what, if you’d asked me this question a year and a half ago, I would’ve said I managed to do all that by scheduling verrrry carefully. But something has become incredibly clear to me over the past year and that’s this: Even the most perfectly color-coded calendar and all the organizational tools in the world are no match to God’s help. My 2014 was chock full of “I have too much going on!” moments … and yet, God prodded and tugged (and in some cases, kinda dragged, I think!) me through each one. J

That said, one of the perks of my main job—I’m a grant-writer and communications coordinator for a nonprofit—is that it’s a Mon-Friday daytime job. I rarely work weekends or evenings. So I’m able to write early in the morning, late at night and on Saturdays. I also scheduled a few long writing weekends throughout the year, which is when I did the bulk of my novel-writing. And I found writing some shorter stories last year—a novella and an e-short—actually energized and exercised my writing chops in a way I hadn’t expected. Got me more fired up to write, I think, than if I’d just gone from novel to novel.

I’ve also learned to let go a little in the past year. I don’t force myself to blog three times a week anymore. Sometimes I even take a week or two off. The great thing about that is after a time away, I usually start missing the blog and am excited to get back to it. I don’t force myself to follow all the marketing and social media rules out there either—that way social media and staying connected with readers feels more relational and fun, something I want to do instead of something I have to do.

Now to your latest novel, released last week: From the Start. Tell us a little about it.

This is the first full-length book in my new Walker Family series. (There’s also a free e-novella prequel called Three Little Words.) I’ve been pretty open online about how much I struggled through writing this new book, but now that it’s all done and out there on bookshelves, I’m able to look back at it with a little less emotional drama. LOL!

This story takes place in a made-up town in Iowa and features the second oldest Walker sibling—Kate. She’s a jaded writer of romantic Hallmark-esque movies…and she feels like she’s not making a difference in the world. She wants to do something more “important.” And then there’s Colton Greene—an injured, ex-NFL quarterback who’s lost both his career and the woman he thought he was going to marry in one day. It’s written in the same banter-y style as my first two books, but does delve deeper into some issues—including Colton’s painful past, foster care, cancer and broken dreams.

I love this quote from an interview you did with Cassie Baker in this month's Family Fiction: "All the while, God is there, saying, 'Give me the paintbrush and you'll see what a beautiful picture I can paint with your life.'" Share with us a little more about how you weave this in the novel and why you chose to use this theme when writing FTS?

Sure thing! Well, honestly, by nature I tend to be a “take charge” sort of person. I love to plan and prepare and feel like I’m in control. And that’s not always a horrible thing. But so often life doesn’t go according to our plans. Both Kate and Colton end up in that place in the story—they both had such a clear picture of where their life was “supposed” to go. And when things turn inside out, they’re stumped…much like I am. Life and the picture I thought I was painting with it can feel blurry and smudged when that happens.

But God…God is awesome. And the picture he’s painting with my life is just so much better than anything I could do on my own. And it’s just so, so much better when I stop trying to paint on my own.

What's up next for you? The second in the Walker Series?

Yep! I turned in the first draft of the second Walker book last month and my editor has already given me rewrite notes. So I’m excited to dig into that story and make it prettier. I had so much fun with this next story. It’s called Like Never Before, features reporter-turned-political-speechwriter Logan Walker and editor Amelia Bentley, and it combines my love of small-town reporting and my fascination with Charles Lindbergh.

Summer is on its way in Iowa. What's something you really love about an Iowan summer?

As much as I love the warmth and sunshine of Iowa summers, I reeeeally love summer rain. Rainy summer days are just my favorite! And I’m excited for this summer in particular because I’m going to have the opportunity to see so many long-distance friends, travel almost every other weekend AND see my favorite band in concert. J

Thanks Melissa for sharing with us at ICFW and wishing you every success with From the Start.

A great way of trying Melissa’s work is by reading the prequel, Three Little Words. It’s free and is a fun read that touches on the themes in From the Start.

Also, check out Melissa's blog. Her blogs are full of grace, humour and reader engagement.

A little more about Melissa

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She writes romantic comedy for Bethany House, and 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. Her newest book, From the Start, is out now. She blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Melissa and Ian, great interview! Melissa, congrats on your latest release! It sounds like a fun story and I have Three Little Words in my tbr queue :)

    1. Thanks Narelle. I think you'll enjoy Three Little Words.

  2. What a talented and verrry busy lady. Enjoyed your interview, Ian.

    1. Rita, hi. I hope your recuperation is going well. You've summed up Melissa very well.