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 http://www.missytippens.com/. And she blogs all over the place: http://www.lifewithmissy.blogspot.com/, http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/, http://www.writingbyfaith.blogspot.com/, and http://www.craftieladiesofromance.blogspot.com/. 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, http://www.missytippens.com/. 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.