Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Many Facets of Tessa Emily Hall

Welcome everyone. I'm excited to introduce you to this week's guest. Let's get started with a quick author bio.


Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to remind teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, released with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She's guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is through connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.

Tessa is represented by Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency.


Suzie: Welcome to the Diamond Mine. We are excited you could join us this week. My first question is regarding your name. Because I live in the south where going by two names is a regularity, I have to ask: Do you prefer Tessa or Tessa Emily?

Tessa: Great question! I live in the south as well. Although my mom originally intended for people to refer to me as Tessa Emily, the two names didn’t seem to stick for very long. Most people simply refer to me as Tessa. =) 



Suzie: Ok, now that we’ve got that burning question out of the way. Let’s really dig deep with some Would You Rather questions (only three and nothing disgusting or impossible, I promise).

Would you rather invent a new gadget or discover a new species?

Tessa: Inventing a new gadget sounds fun! 


Suzie: Would your rather have a lifetime subscription to Netflix or an unlimited Starbucks gift card?

Tessa: Way too easy. I could never say no to unlimited free coffee!





Suzie: Would you rather always have slow internet or never have a good phone connection? Ok, that one is verging on the impossible with all you’ve got going on.

Tessa: Haha yes … that’s tough! I’d prefer to never have good phone connection. Most of my work is done through the internet. And even if I can’t talk on the phone then I could at least make video calls using the internet! ;) 



Suzie: That’s it for the icebreaker questions. Thanks for playing along. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.

I have to say, your resume is impressive—author, editor, agent, actress. This question has two parts. First, how do you balance your time with the many hats you wear? And two, what’s the best part of each position?

Tessa: Haha, thanks! I wouldn’t be able to pull off these various roles if it wasn’t for the teams that I work with. Since I work with other people, I am able to share responsibilities and tasks. And as far as time management goes--I learned how to divide my time accordingly when I was in school. When you’re taking classes, you have to learn the art of juggling multiple subjects. You have to know when to focus on a certain subject and when to move on to the next one. I’ve managed to find a work rhythm that works for me by using a block schedule system, which is similar to what I did in school. The only exception to this is acting. That’s more of a hobby than a career, haha. =) 

The best part of each position? Let’s see. Where to start? With writing, I love the opportunity to tap into this creative gift God has given me to further His Kingdom and reach readers. I find it fulfilling to connect with my Creator in these writing sessions. Hearing from readers about how they were ministered to never fails to remind me of why I love this job! 

As far as being an agent and editor goes--first of all, I absolutely love the publishing industry in general. It’s thrilling for me to play a part in shaping a book and delivering it to the hands of the right readers. But the reason I was initially captivated by this job was because I loved the idea of working to help the dreams of other writers come into fruition, of playing a part in their publication journey. I would say that is my favorite part of this job as well. 


Suzie: Oops, left one thing off that previous list. Would you share a little about the magazine you publish?

Tessa: Haha, I’d love to! PURSUE Magazine is currently a blog and digital magazine that encourages teen girls to embrace their uniqueness, tap into their potential, and pursue their role in furthering God’s Kingdom. I wanted to launch a magazine that could provide teen girls with a place to not only draw closer to God, but to connect with other girls. That way, they could receive inspiration, support, and community in pursuit of their God-given dreams. Readers can learn more at www.PURSUEMagazine.net.  



Suzie: Everything you've got going on is so cool. I love that you're ministering to teenagers and encouraging and supporting authors. 

Regarding your writing career, who were your influences and/or mentors?

Tessa: The answer to this question has several parts, haha. First of all, the person who initially encouraged this dream of mine was my mom. She always had faith, even when I was a kid, that I would become an author one day. I know I wouldn’t have pursued this dream without the support of both of my parents!

I was also fortunate enough to have had teachers in elementary school who spoke life into this dream as well. Their writing challenges would always stir my creativity, and even back then they would encourage me to pursue writing. 

I don’t necessarily have an author mentor; however, I have always considered Karen Kingsbury to be my author role model. The way that she has built a career by writing life-transforming fiction has shown me that it is possible to have a book ministry. 



Suzie: Along that same vein, who are you reading and/or keeping an eye on in the Christian YA market today?

Tessa: Unfortunately, this is a tough market for Christian YA authors. The larger publishing houses are no longer interested in selling Christian stories to teens anymore; instead, they want to publish YA fiction geared to a general audience. There is definitely ministry potential here as well--if not even more than the CBA market! But because of this, my YA reads have consisted primarily in the general market lately. Some of my favorite authors who write for this audience (and who happen to be Christians as well) include Stephanie Morrill, Nadine Brandes, and Jenny B. Jones.


Suzie: I've never thought about it that way, but when you point it out, I totally see what you're saying about larger houses tapping into the general market where YA is concerned. 

What would you like to see more of in the genre?

Hmm. Well, to begin with, I would like to see a growth in the Christian YA market in general. As I mentioned, the larger houses are not interested in publishing this general--but there still smaller houses that will take a chance on YA Christian manuscripts. I would love to see authors who are passionate about writing stories that teens love in a way that taps into their interests. There are many authors who want to write Christian stories for teens simply because they want to preach a sermon to them. To these authors, I would advise that they study the books that today’s teens are reading. Understand teenagers by hanging out with them. If authors can do this, then they will have the tools necessary to tell a story that meets them where they are in life without preaching to them.  


Suzie: Tell us about your latest book release.

 Tessa: FALLEN LEAVES released last fall and is about 17-year-old, Selena Taylor, who uses art to help her along a journey of finding her dad and brother in hopes that her family will be reunited after eight years. It is the sequel to PURPLE MOON but can serve as a standalone novel as well.








Suzie: I can attest to that. I read FALLEN LEAVES but haven't read PURPLE MOON (yet). And let's not leave out the devotional you wrote for teenage girls: COFFEE SHOP DEVOS










Which transitions well into my next question.What are you writing/are you writing now?

Right now I am working on LOVE YOUR SELFIE, which is a devotional journal geared toward teen girls that will take them on a journey of self-acceptance. It is scheduled to release March 2020. I am thrilled about this one! This book covers a topic that I am personally passionate about because insecurity is something I struggled with as a teen, and I know this has increasingly become an issue in the teen culture today. My hopes with this book is that teens will be taken on a journey that will allow them to learn to appreciate the unique way God has created them, and will give them the tools they need to further pursue their calling. 


Suzie: Well, I don’t want to keep you from everything else you’ve got happening. Thank you so much for take some time out of your schedule and stopping by for a bit. It’s been a pleasure getting more acquainted with you.

Readers, keep reading for the synopsis of Fallen Leaves and enter to win an eBook!

If you're interested in learning a little more about Tessa, check out this interview.






Fallen Leaves


Selena Taylor thought her only worry this fall was starting her junior year at a new arts school in
North Carolina, miles away from home. But when she finds out her mom could graduate from rehab sooner than expected—even worse, she could work for her former nothing-but-trouble boss—Selena's determined to create a new life for them. Back in her childhood Kentucky hometown. 

Step one? Track down her dad and brother that she hasn't seen in eight years. Her anxiety is put to the test, though, when she unveils a truth that could threaten her dreams. Add to that an art competition that pushes her outside of her comfort zone and a girl who seems determined to come between Selena and her hopeful boyfriend. 


Soon Selena must decide whether or not to continue her search for her dad and brother. But is there any hope that the ruins of her broken family could be resurrected? And how could God possibly have a purpose in the midst of these changing seasons? 







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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Interview with Ann Malley

I can't wait for you all to meet my guest, Ann Malley! We'll just jump right in and get started.

Anne Malley
1.     Give me one fact about you as an author that most people don’t know.

All right, Erin. This one’s a toughie. But that’s okay. Digging deep is what makes interviews fun. I’m struggling, though, because as a new author there’s a ton of things readers likely don’t know about me. But from a Christian perspective, I’d say the most interesting fact is that I began my writing career in a very different space. My work was salacious, un-Christian, and very much attuned to meet the demands of the world. I never published but came quite close being represented by a top literary agency that could have secured my “success” had I stayed on that road. But God intervened. Thank goodness. I can say that now.

The endless obstacle of cross-country moves—the hand of God—eroded the stability needed to focus on career. Naturally, I rebelled. But a radical spiritual reversion came next. The vortex of gratitude, shame, and confusion as I struggled to reconcile my writing life consumed me. It still does sometimes. Then homeschooling hit me. Yep, I homeschooled my kiddos, although my oldest made it thru to 7th grade in the public school system. My youngest, my only son, experienced a blip of private boarding school, but was soon back in the nest – something I highly recommend.

But amid all the moves and having to live in places where gang violence and other lovelies lurked just beyond our front door, I realized what a blessing it was/is to have to take a more active role in the day-to-day education of one’s children. (I taught them all to read personally, long before school days.) The realization of teaching and the obligations therein is what changed my writing, gave me renewed purpose, and led me to where I am today.

2.     As Christian writers, we long to share God’s love, goodness, and grace with others through our writing. But quite often our stories speak to us as much as our readers. How did God use this story to help you stretch and grow as a person?

My writing life and my stories – all of them, published or not -- liken to Christ’s Parable of the weeds. Matthew 13:25-43

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

So, in this process, I’ve learned to be patient with myself and others. Charitable, too. I try to see the good in other’s work and in my own, letting the fullness of God’s grace work its will in His time. This applies to individual projects that require editing and/or where the threads you believed to be bad turn out to be good. But patience and charity have their place in observing an author’s body of work, too. We should look to where the stories lead in the development of characters as well as the author. It’s not over until it’s over and plenty of weeds can transform with the aid of God’s grace.
 

3.     Was there a scene you had to edit out which you really liked? Tell us about it.

 I’ve edited out so many scenes from so many books, it’s impossible to pick one. There’s a time and place for all things, even beautiful things. One may love a strand of pearls, but know instinctively that they are inappropriate when one is required to dig in the garden or run a marathon. A beautiful set of pearls could get ruined, be lost, and/or not be appreciated as they should be in such a situation. With that in mind, I like to save old scenes, phrases, descriptions, etc. My slush files are a treasure chest of sorts, filled with gems awaiting the right opportunity to shine. 

4.     I love strong male heroes, don’t you? What is the quality you like the most about your hero?

I have two books out at present – Fallen Angel and Rodeo King. Both books are very different. Fallen Angel is an action packed romantic suspense, a thriller. Rodeo King is a sweet contemporary where suspense is limited to personal struggles, not killers. (Although infertility can kill a woman’s spirit if she’s not careful.) But both heroes, I hope, embody a steadfast ethic of duty. Men who shirk their duty are anathema to me. As scripture teaches, charity covers a multitude of sins. Well, a strong sense of obligation and fortitude are what do it for me. Not that looks don’t help. We’re Christians, not blind men. But the inner beauty of truly masculine traits is what should shine forth in every hero, otherwise the externals are just false advertisement.

5.     If you could go back and change one scene, which one would it be and why?

I can’t go back, Erin, and I’m glad. This journey is a mission to move forward. Even our mistakes work to the good if we take the lesson. That said, I’ve learned not to lament what’s gone before. It’s a recipe for disaster and wrinkles, something I’m diligently working to avoid not only by embracing a solid skin-care regimen and drinking plenty of water, but by listening to the Word. Letting that sink in is better than any moisturizer!

6.     Being a writer is a busy life, isn’t it? I’m sure you’re working on something new to intrigue your readers. What’s in the works for you right now?

Busy is the word. Diverse, too. In addition to marketing my current works, blogging, and engaging in the social media I’ve come to LOVE, I’m currently working on the second installment of the Diamond Dog Series. Craving GRACE is being edited, retooled, polished, and combed over to ensure the message therein is clear and edifying. Will there be bombs, bad guys (gals), and bullets? You bet. Romance? Um, yeah. A compelling romance, bursting with internal and external obstacles, is a MUST. Life sure is like that.

And Christian Romantic Suspense is right up there with secular offerings much like inspired romance. There’s no skimping on quality unlike many believe. Meanwhile, I’m trying my best to be patient with this current project, although I’ll admit to being antsy.

The sequel to Rodeo King, outlined and tucked safely away, is waiting in the wings. Not so patiently perhaps as my brain is firing non-stop with the urge to get going on it. But the time will come, likely sooner than I expect. The third installment of Diamond Dogs, Mercy Nation, is also calling my name along with so many other projects itching to break out of the “treasure chest.”


 Thank you, Erin, for this chance to reveal my deeper self and what motivates my writing in the context of a spiritual journey. I hope this interview encourages others to revisit their own writing, pick up a new novel, and/or be more forgiving with themselves if only to see the bigger picture. It’s critical to stop and actively think about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and where it is we believe we’re going – or want to go. “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” Romance 8:28. 

Check out these blurbs:

Having a baby isn’t a matter of winning or losing. But it sure feels that way when Leigh Ann Lacie, widowed, wiser, and woefully infertile returns to Wild Horse Montana to find her high school honey, RODEO KING Frank Ferguson, toting twin babies. He needs a nanny. Leigh Ann needs cash. It’s the perfect match.

The frozen sperm left by her husband is an expensive legacy, one she’s determined to use to make her dream of family come true. But being widowed once is enough, so wild riding Frank can keep his kisses to himself…and there’s no way she’s telling anyone about her secret mission. She’s not about to fuel small town gossips. And her success will only break Frank’s heart.

True charity demands she guard them both from the occasion of pain, but God has other plans.
  

TERROR trafficking, international ASSASSINS, a single faith-filled MOM, one missing BABY, and a VENGEANCE driven CIA operative with personal scores to settle. Protecting the woman who dumped him to have another man's child may be his duty, but if she's guilty of crimes against the state, he'll bring her down. Unless she gets to him first.

Angel le Blanc loves God, but what good can come of this? 






Ann Malley's BIO:

A believing Christian, seasoned by Providence, Ann writes about real women battling their way to a happily ever after. Deadly situations that demand faith and perseverance feature in her romantic suspense stories.  While personal demons, the kind that only faith and honest self-reflection can defeat, fill the pages of her sweet contemporary romance. Tucked securely inside the National Capital’s outer reaches, Ann keeps busy when not writing with her husband of 32 years, three grown kids, and a spooky little kitty named Boo. She’s a member of RWA, FHL, ACFW, and Inked Voices. Find out more at AnnMalleyBooks.com.