Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Words from Missy Tippens

Missy Tippens is a pastor’s wife and mom of three. She 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 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest finalist and is now available in large print from Thorndike. His Forever Love was a June 2009 release from Love Inspired, and A Forever Christmas is on the shelves now!

You can find Missy at And she blogs all over the place:,,, and  She’s also on Facebook, MySpace and Shoutlife, so be sure to give her a holler!

SDC: Missy, we were privileged to have you with us before, but I see you now have a book about Christmas coming out. Please tell us about it?

Missy: I’d love to! Here’s a back cover blurb:

Sarah Radcliffe’s quiet Christmas back in her hometown will be lost if she agrees to direct the church’s Christmas pageant. But when she meets two little boys determined to gain their father’s attention, Sarah agrees to help. Then she discovers that the dad in question is Gregory Jones, the man she loved and lost.

The single dad is working himself to the bone to give his boys the Christmas of their dreams, when all they want is some family time. Time that includes a new mommy. If Sarah can learn to open her heart, she may receive the most wonderful

present of all—a family of her own.

SDC:  The last few years must have flown for you now that contracts are being picked up. How do you work and stay active in groups and keep your family together and focused during those times many of us recognize as DEADLINES?

Missy: I’ve learned not to take on too much outside of my family and writing and involvement in the church choir and Bible study. I’m learning that I can’t always say “yes” when I’d like to. When I have a deadline, I look at how many writing days I have available and take my word count and divide by that number of days. It gives me a daily count that I have to meet—and I write until I do. And if  I don’t quite meet it, I make it up the next day. Honestly, this balancing act is something I’m still learning to do! And I have to guard against neglecting my family around book release times. Of course, my children will get in my face and remind me when they need my attention! :)

SDC:  What do you stumble over the most when you are writing? 

Missy: I have the hardest time with maintaining conflict in my stories. I just want everyone to be happy! :) So it’s something I’m still learning about, and I’m trying different plotting methods to come up with something that works well for me.

SDC: Have you changed this in any way, and if not, please remind us, how you make faith, love, and hope work together in your stories.

Missy: Well, I write inspirational romance, so there’s always love and a thread of faith in my stories. :) I also tend to usually include a theme that involves hope in some way. I guess as long as I’m writing about God’s love, then there’s always going to be a message of hope.

SDC: Tell us about your office, and what makes it special just to you.

Missy: I don’t really have an office. My old office is in the basement, and I always felt like I was in a dungeon! So for several years, I’ve worked on a laptop in the family room right in the middle of everything. I’m good at blocking all the activity out, though. And I like to work with background noise (music or TV), so it works well for me.  I have files in a drawer, office supplies in a Rubbermaid container, and a printer right behind the couch. I keep stacks of reference books at the end of the couch, and my reference workbooks or notebooks that I’m currently using pile up beside me on the sectional sofa. My husband and kids fuss about this on occasion, so I have to tidy up. It’s about that time, now! :)

SDC: Do you use scripture verses in your stories? How do you keep your books from being too preachy for the pubs?  

Missy: I do use a Bible verse with each story. I sometimes know it at the beginning, other times I learn what it is as the story develops. I think the main way to keep from being too preachy is not to go in with an agenda. Don’t go in wanting to get a point across about an issue or to bonk someone over the head with a principle you feel strongly about. I usually have one character (sometimes both) who is dealing with something with God and has a lesson to learn through the story. In Her Unlikely Family, the hero, Michael, attended and gave money to the church but didn’t really feel like he had a purpose in life. He had to learn to quit worrying so much about family expectations and to figure out God’s  calling for his life. In His Forever Love, my heroine, Lindsay, needed to quit trying to do and be everything for everyone and to learn to slow down and live the life God intended for her. And the hero, Bill, thought God didn’t care about him at the beginning of the story, but grew to see that God does want to give him hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). In my current book, A Forever Christmas, the heroine, Sarah, can’t forgive the hero for their past, and she has to learn that with God’s help, she can do anything. And the hero, Gregory, feels unworthy of forgiveness, but has a moment near Christmas where it hits him that the baby Jesus was born for him personally.

All of these are very different scenarios. And  except for maybe Gregory’s moment that happens suddenly, they all occur as gradual growth through the story. The beauty of having a problem for the characters to be dealing with is that it lends itself to writing emotional scenes that are there for a purpose. One piece of writing advice I got from friend and fellow author, Camy Tang, is to find the character’s spiritual flaw and then make him face that in the story. There’s instant conflict for you!

SDC:  What question in regards to both Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the joy of reading or writing would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner?

Missy: Great idea! Okay, here’s your question. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is your favorite holiday and why?

SDC: It’s been a real pleasure having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Missy. Where can the readers go to find your book?

A Forever Christmas, from Steeple Hill Love Inspired, is on shelves now wherever you find other Harlequin/Steeple Hill books! If you don’t see it, ask your local bookseller to order it for you. Or you can find links to purchase it online if you visit my website, Also, while you’re there, please sign up for my quarterly email newsletter!

Shirley, thank you so much for having me!

READERS: Be sure to answer Missy’s question above to try to win a copy of her book!Congratulations to Michelle Tuller of Salidas, California! You have just won Missy's book! Be watching for it and do join us again. Thank you for being a follower of A Pen for Your Thoughts.


  1. Don't be bashful! We want to hear your favorite holiday. :)

  2. I would be silly to ignore the Reason for Christmas and the gift giving. But I think I enjoy Thanksgiving more, because the hubbub above is gone, and we can really sit down and enjoy family more. Get caught up with the newest news of each others' families. It's more relaxing and genuine. No expectations.

  3. Linda, I agree. I love Thanksgiving so much and hate the way we rush past it.

    Thanks for your comment!

  4. I love Thanksgiving the most. There is no concern about presents and what you have given anyone and what you receive but about being with family and friends and being thankful.


  5. So far I agree with all. I love Thanksgiving. It is still the most inspirational holiday of the year, and it is all about giving thanks. There is something special about that, since so many anymore forget just how much we do have to be thankful for. God most of all.

  6. Christmas is my favorit. Not just the day but the whole month of December is just a wonderful time of year. Especially with my 2 young daughters being so excited.


  7. Jo, that's so true. It's always a good thing to focus on being thankful.

    Shirley, I agree. These days, we often tend to forget where our blessings come from!

  8. Finally, a vote for Christmas! :)

    Colletta, I always loved Christmas when the kids were small. I loved to make sure I had the camera on them when they came out of the bedroom to see the gifts for the first time. Such a thrill. And I still cherish time together on Christmas eve at the church candlelight service.

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  10. That is a hard question:) I would probably say Thanksgiving. In our family more people get together on that day. And all the cooking is great too:)
    Please enter me in the giveaway.

    esterried @

  11. Charity, I LOVE the food on Thanksgiving. It's always been a huge deal in my family. We have all the same dishes each year--and we each have our favorites. My fav would be the really, really moist dressing! (My mom and grandmother always cooked a small amount just for me with lots of extra broth.) :)

  12. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving! They're both so wonderful . . . giving thanks and praise to God and celebrating the birth of His son, Jesus. It's so hard to choose which one! I'll say Christmas. The kids are so excited, and there's just a special magic that surrounds the entire month.

    Thank you for entering me!

    scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

  13. Michelle, it certainly is a magical time!

    Thanks for entering!

  14. I would say Thanksgiving. My Mom (deceased)made the BEST dressing; my daughter and I have tried to copy luck yet but we will keep trying!
    Thanks for entering me.

  15. Jackie,

    Dressing is my favorite, too!

    My mom always cooks the chopped celery and onion on the stove in a small pan of water. Then she pours it over the dried dressing (Pepperidge Farm--cornbread and herb). The she pours turkey broth (from the cooked bird) over it and lets it all soak in. Then she bakes it.

    I don't know if your mom's dressing was anything like this, but I thought I'd share just in case. :)


  16. Christmas is my favorite holiday .Because I get to see more family and friends that day. Forever Christmas sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

  17. My favorite holiday is Easter. I love the reflection on the Holy Week and the celebration on Easter. Love it!

    Missy, I hear you are in good company with Mary DeMuth on the 10 years of writing before publishing!


    PS I'm going to go buy the book, so don't put me in the drawing :-)

  18. Missy,
    I think your personal story is inspirational ;-) Not to mention your fiction.

    I've only read His Forever Love...and loved it. I can't wait to read His Forever Christmas. It sounds wonderful.


  19. Emma, that sounds like a wonderful time!

  20. Thank you, Pepper! I hope you enjoy it.

  21. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the family time, decorating the tree, the Christmas carols, and of course the reason for even celebrating at all--the birth of our King.

    Please enter me in the drawing.
    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  22. Missy, I can so relate to working in the family room. My "space" is the loveseat with the recliner.

    And, yes, I do have to straighten it up periodically.

    Hmmm, the holidays?

    It's pretty much non-stop from Thanksgiving until after New Years.

    Just one big party for about 5 weeks!

  23. Hi Missy! I met you at the last Southeast ACFW meeting. Remember, I'm the one that drove three hours to get there! LOL But it was well worth it to meet everyone.

    I would have to say that Thanksgiving would be my favorite holiday. It is a time for giving thanks. Christmas is great, too, but the hustle and bustle takes away some of the fun.
    Deborah M.

  24. Cynthia,

    Amen for the Reason for the season! :)

  25. You know, Pam, a recliner is a great idea!! That way no once couple complain about my mess! Unless, of course, it crept all the way over to the couch. Which isn't impossible for my stuff. ;)

  26. Deborah, it was great meeting you at the last meeting! I'm sorry it's ended up being so far. I hope you'll come again anyway!

  27. Hmmm, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would say Thanksgiving probably although I love Christmas too! Christmas means homemade raviolis and cranberry punch and lots of fun playing games and watching Christmas movies with my huge family! ( I am the oldest of 11)

  28. Wow, Martha! 11 kids! I can't imagine how full a family gathering would be. :)

  29. Christmas is my favorite. Please do not enter me for this book as I have already read it and would hightly recommend. It is a Must read. Blessings.

  30. Okay Ladies.
    Thank you SO much for participating. Missy and I were both thrilled with your input.

    I will be drawing names this week. Be sure to check back and see in a couple of days if you are the ONE!
    Shirley Connolly