Thursday, July 23, 2009

Come Visit with MISSY!

Welcome MISSY! What I know so far:

Missy Tippens is a two-time Maggie winner and 2006 Golden Heart finalist. She has taught writing workshops at the RWA National Conference and Moonlight & Magnolias Conference.

Missy has a story included in Blessings of Mossy Creek, published by BelleBooks. After ten years of pursuing her dream, she made her first sale of a full-length novel to Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She still pinches herself to see if it really happened! Her debut novel, Her Unlikely Family, was a February 2008 release and is now available in large print from Thorndike. His Forever Love was a June 2009 release from Love Inspired and will be followed by A Forever Christmas in November 2009.

You can find Missy at

SKC: Okay! Tell us about the book you have coming out or the newest project you are working on now.

MT: My most recent book is His Forever Love from Steeple Hill Love Inspired.

Here’s the blurb:

In Magnolia, Georgia, local legend says that a couple who holds hands around the “forever” tree will have an unending love. Even so, Bill Wellington held Lindsay Jones’s hands around that tree years ago...and then left her behind. He chose the big city, and now he wants to bring his grandmother there. But to his amazement, he finds that Granny has a boyfriend—and a vibrant life. A life that includes Lindsay, Granny’s caregiver. Bill never thought he’d want to come home, yet Magnolia clearly has its charms. As does Lindsay, who makes him long for a second chance at forever love.

SKC: Sounds exciting. What inspired you to begin writing in the first place and what keeps you going?

MT: I used to read all the time, and one day I just decided that I would like to try writing a romance novel. I waited until I got my first computer and dove right in! What keeps me going is the love of writing. The joy of creating something. And also the wonderful reader letters and email inspire me to keep going.

SKC: Sounds like you've already answered this question, Missy, but I will ask it anyway. How disciplined are you each day with your writing, and when did you begin to take it seriously?

MT: I began to take it seriously when I joined RWA and Georgia Romance Writers. And I took it even more seriously once I started winning contests and realized I might really have a shot at publication.

SKC: One of these days I'll have to try one of those contests, I guess. What are some favorite writing helps books you’ve used, to help you in your craft? I like to ask this, because so many are interested in any helps books they can find.

MT: My two favorite for the last several years are actually workbooks. Alicia Rasley’s The Story Within and Carolyn Greene’s Prescription for Plotting. Those are a must for me as I’m planning a book!

At RWA National last week, I took a workshop with Donald Maass. He taught using his new book, The Fire in Fiction. I have the book and can’t wait to read it. The workshop was excellent and very helpful!

SKC: I can't wait to take the workshop he's doing at the upcoming ACFW Conference. Do you have a special Missy spot for writing, and if so where is it?

MT: I wish I did! But I work right in the middle of the family room, on the couch, using my laptop. I usually work while the kids are at school, so it’s pretty quiet. But I also work when they’re home and can tune everything out pretty well. I like to be comfy when I write! :)

SKC: I wonder if that would work for me. How do you come up with the names of your heroes and heroines, anyway?

MT: I used to spend a full day looking at the meanings of names and choosing something that fits the character’s personality. But now I usually just pick something I like. I often end up looking up the meaning, just to make sure it fits.

SKC: How do you work your middles when many writers come to a lull?

MT: Ahhh, the dreaded middle! :) I often hit that lull as well—about chapter 4 or 5. One thing that has helped is working out of Carolyn Greene’s Prescription for Plotting workbook (mentioned above). She includes a Magic Conflict Chart which is kind of like a GMC chart. She suggests coming up with ideas for each block on that chart. So when I hit a lull, I go to that list of scene ideas and find a few to help move the story along.

SKC: Great idea. So, what do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer, Missy?

MT: That my writing isn’t my “baby.” It’s a project. It can be changed. It can be taken apart and put back together. It can be molded to fit what my editor is looking for. And it’ll end up better!

SDC: How right you are. What would you say is the most difficult for you, the beginning or the end of the story?

MT: Probably the beginning. I feel so much pressure to make the beginning just perfect, with just the right opening sentence that’ll grab the reader’s attention and draw her in. Endings just seem to come like a freight train! Once I get to the black moment, everything after that just flies onto the page. (Of course, I usually know my ending before I start.)

SDC: Interesting. Can you tell us what is next on the horizon for you?

MT: A Forever Christmas is coming from Love Inspired in November. And I’m hoping to sell another proposal soon! :)

SDC: I understand you are donating a book to one of our readers. I appreciate that Missy. How about we ask a question to get their creative juices flowing. Let's see. Okay, how's this?


MT: Thank you for having me, Shirley!



Congratulations to Cynthia Chow! You have just won a copy of one of Missy's Books! Watch for it in the mail. And THANK YOU everyone for taking part with us.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pressing Issues: What's Your Thought?

A couple of questions for you authors and aspiring authors out there:

1. How do you write about the high standard of living a Christian is supposed to have and maintain reality when you see many in the church living as if they have no standards at all, or at least very few? When you hear things like: Its a sign of the times
2. What, to you, is an acceptable way of writing about things like abortion, prayer, revival, spiritual hunger, complacency for the believer in a way that can be edifying and growth-building rather than compromising?
3. How do you write about the end times in your inspirational stories?
4. What is one subject you have not yet seen in any inspirational book you've read?

Send in your comments. I will donate a devotional to the winner.
Congratulations to Di Campbell of New Mexico!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Welcome Back, Trish:

SKC: We learned a little about you last time you came to A Pen for Your Thoughts. This visit I thought I would ask you a few newer questions. Let’s begin with this one. How is this new book of yours different from the first?

TP: Different from my very first, you mean? Or the first in the Beach House series? I’ll give you a quickie answer for both. Sunset Beach is probably a little deeper, with more drama, than The Guy I’m Not Dating. But I’ve still incorporated humor and romance in the plotline. My books in the Beach House series are more women’s fiction/contemporary romance than chick lit.

And Sunset Beach differs from Beach Dreams in that the characters and circumstances are all new. Beach Dreams was a continuation of the storylines started and continued in The Guy I’m Not Dating and Too Good to Be True. Sunset Beach starts all over, with different people.

SKC: You answered just right. I don’t know if you know it, but you are one of my daughter’s favorite authors. What inspired you to write as you do and would you say you draw in a younger crowd more than an older bunch or both?

TP: Oh, how sweet! I’m thrilled your daughter enjoys my books! I don’t know if I draw in more young people than old dames such as myself, but I am most definitely not the matronly, quiet, sage type of older woman. I enjoy serious novels as much as the next person, but I also enjoy a good laugh and happy, romantic endings. That’s the type of novel I lean toward when I write; I’m just better at that than the heavy themes. My personal experience is that there are plenty of women “of a certain age” who like to pick up a story that isn’t going to drain them of their life’s blood before they get to The End. Sometimes you just feel like smiling while you read.

SKC: That’s how I do my devotionals. I know exactly what you mean. With your fiction how do you balance dialogue with character and plot with setting so that your books run smoothly?

TP: I truly have to work at that. I think I’d enjoy writing the entire book in dialogue if I could. You can show a lot of characterization through dialogue, though, so comfort with dialogue isn’t a bad thing. With regard to setting, I hear all the time that other readers are like I am—if too much setting description shows up, I’ll skip to the quotation marks. Setting needs to be weaved in subtly, so the reader barely notices she’s just been fed an image. A smooth plot moves forward through the actions of—and conversations between—the characters. In my opinion, if plot is happening to the characters, rather than characters moving the plot, your characters aren’t interesting enough.

SKC: Besides inspirational fiction books, what books do you read in the secular world? Would you say reading others’ books helps to get your creative juices flowing? If so, how?

TP I read at least as many secular novels as I do Christian. And yes, definitely, other people’s books get my creative juices flowing, although I don’t notice it while I’m reading. I don’t read a scene and go, “Wow, that makes me think of [blank] happening to [blank].” Rather, I think the influence happens like osmosis, and a vague, cloud-like mass settles down on you when you sit at the computer. That’s why it’s so important to read as much as you can when you’re a writer. No one will write something the way you do, but we all nurture one another’s creativity. It’s very cool.

SKC: I agree completely. If you were to select a different genre to write, what would it be?

TP: What an interesting question! I’m kind of morphing into women’s fiction (or maybe just contemporary romance—I hate the idea of no romance in any of my stories). But that’s not so much like choosing an entirely different genre. I actually wrote a supernatural/spiritual warfare novel which had quite a lot of historical fiction mixed in, and some day I’d love to publish it—I honestly think it’s very good (or it will be once I completely rewrite it). So I guess you could say my other genre would be supernatural spiritual warfare historical fiction. I think you could call that Mutt Fiction, don’t you?

SKC: Hmm. Mutt Fiction! Now there is something you can start if no one else does! In the meantime, how is your family adjusting to you being a full-time writer? Or do you still work (at home or outside the home) on the side?

TP: Well, I’ve been divorced for a few years, so I guess the writing didn’t go over so well there. But my kids think it’s great, and they’re wonderfully supportive. I don’t currently work on the side, but I plan to eventually, unless I suddenly hit the mother load with my book income. I’m currently training to do courtroom reporting, and I think that will be an interesting side job.

SDC: You know what, Trish? I am praying for that mother load too someday. Maybe like a painter…it won’t come till after I’m long gone. Ha! Tell us more about what your new book entails (maybe toss in a quick blurb) and also where the readers can find it when it’s out. Will you do that for us, Trish?

TP Sunset Beach is currently available everywhere.

Sonny Miller is tired of not knowing who she is. Soon she’ll begin graduate school to earn her masters in Psychology. But how can she counsel future clients about their identities when she isn’t even sure about her own? To that end she has cooked up a little meeting at a certain beach house in San Diego.

Sonny’s mother, classical soprano Teresa Miller, isn’t aware she’s about to be reunited at the beach house with her sister, Melanie Hines, after 25 years of estrangement. And Sonny isn’t aware her mother has invited a surprise guest of her own. Russian adoptee, Irina Petrova, finds herself dragged along on a trip so tumultuous she summons her handsome concert violinist brother for moral support.

The four women converge on the funky little beach house in San Diego, each with her own disappointments and hopes about family, identity, and love. For Sonny, the trip reveals all she expected and more than she ever dreamed.

SDC: Thanks so much. Trish, we are so excited that you have a book for one of our readers this week. What question would you like to toss out, if you were to ask other readers or writers anything that deals with fiction stories particularly?

TP: Shirley, you ask some excellent questions. I’d love to know what readers wish someone would write about. What are we missing when it comes to addressing the needs and yearnings of Christian women out there? I’d truly love to know.

SDC: That is great for our readers to reflect on. I’m curious about the answers that will come in. For now, we thank you for joining us and sharing a bit of your life. May God richly bless you with your newest work!

TP: Thank you, Shirley. Always a pleasure! And God bless your writing, as well.

To see Trish or pick up one of her signed books, click here:

Don't forget to send in your answers!

Congratulations, Cherie Japp of Florida! Your book will soon be on its way!

Thanks so much for being a part of A Pen for Your Thoughts with us!