Hi Missy! I'm so glad you are able to join us today. Thanks so much for the privilege to learn a little more about you. I was so excited to see Her Unlikely Family in Wal Mart the other day. I snatched it right up! What a fantastic story. You did a wonderful job with the plotting, the characters, and the setting. It was a wonderful read.
LE: When did you first start writing and what led you to write Christian Fiction?
MT: I started writing about 13 years ago . I know that because my now 13-year-old son was a baby. I would hold him in one arm and type with the other hand! I didn’t start writing toward publication until 1997 after I joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers. While at GRW, I met Sandra Chastain and went to work for her one day a week. She was the first to read my new book idea summary and said, “You’re writing an inspirational!” I had no idea until that moment. But as I thought about it, I realized I couldn’t write books without God in them because my faith is so integral to my life and to who I am. I knew God would be important to at least one of my characters in my books. After realizing I was called to write inspirational fiction, I joined the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of RWA. Then years later, I joined ACFW. These organizations have been a huge support and source of information.
LE: Who has influenced your writing the most?
MT: Wow, that’s hard. I don’t think anyone has asked me that before. I’d have to say that I’ve been most influenced by all the authors I’ve read over a lifetime. I’ve learned what I like in stories and what I don’t like. I’ve learned, subconsciously, how a story should flow. I think that internalization has been the biggest influence.
I guess I’d also have to say my parents, because they instilled the idea that I can do anything I set my mind to doing. And of course, I’ve inherited their stubborn genes, the ones that kept me trying to publish for the last 10 years!
LE: How do you plot out your novel? Can you take us through it step by step?
MT: I usually have a what if scenario which involves characters who are opposites in some way. Then I start thinking of their backstory. I’ve found two how-to workbooks that have helped me take it from there. One is Alicia Rasley’s The Story Within Guidebook. The other is Carolyn Green’s Prescription for Plotting workbook. These have really helped me stay on track, especially Alicia’s chapters on conflict. Once I’ve filled a legal pad with character info, sequences for how the characters will change and grow, scene ideas, etc., I start writing. I usually plow through the first 3 chapters, then struggle a little to do chapter 4. Then for some reason I hit a wall at chapter 5. At that point, I take some time to re-read what I’ve written and to revise it. Then I move on. Once I get to the last few chapters, the writing flies by. I love to get to that happy ending! No more torture of my poor characters.
After that, I begin a long revision process. I go through the book several times on paper. Then enter changes, send to my critique partner, and then make changes according to her feedback. Now that I finally have an editor, this is the point where she would get the book. And then the revisions start over again with her input. It’s been wonderful to work with an editor! You and I are extremely lucky to work with Emily. I feel it made my first book so much better.
LE: You are so right. Emily is fantastic. So, what are you working on now?
MT: I’m working on a story set in a small town in Georgia about a man who comes home to move his grandmother back to Boston with him. But the girl he secretly loved in high school is very close to Granny, and they have a ministry together. She doesn’t want Granny to move. And Granny doesn’t want to move. Will he harden his heart and move Granny up to Boston anyway? Or will he fall in love with the heroine all over again and stay in Georgia?
Hmm. Sounds like a romance, doesn’t it?
LE: LOL. Well, of course! How has having a critique partner helped or hindered your writing?
MT: I wouldn’t be where I am today without my critique group—Belinda (Lindi) Peterson, Meg Moseley and Maureen Hardegree. I never finaled in a contest until after they got hold of my manuscript. The first time I entered after they worked with it, I finaled and won. They critiqued the book that sold, too. We don’t work together as much as a group now (we met in person weekly back then). But we do email things off occasionally. I always pass my manuscripts by Lindi, though, before sending them off. (She also rooms with me at all conferences and manages to sleep through my snoring!)
LE: Ha. LOL. Isn't it great how God puts just the people we need into our lives right when we need them?
MT: Way, way back, many years ago, I thought what if? What if a stuffy blue-blooded bank owner gets together with a spunky waitress who is from a poor family? But then while Lindi and I were brainstorming, she said, “What if you put a twist on it, and the waitress is actually from a wealthy family but doesn’t want to have anything to do with the wealth?” So I took her advice! Then I had to figure out how to throw the characters together. And I thought it might be fun if the hero was guardian of a runaway teenaged niece, and maybe the waitress was hiding her.
Here’s a blurb: Her Unlikely Family Steeple Hill Love Inspired Feb. 2008
Opposites attract when an uptight banker encounters a free-spirited waitress during the search for his runaway teenaged niece. As they work together to heal the young girl’s damaged spirit, an unlikely family begins to form….
LE: Anything else you want to tell us?
MT: That I can’t wait to read your book! I looked for it at Wal-Mart today, and they still had the January LI Suspense books. I’ll keep checking! Or maybe I’ll order it.
LE: Aw, thanks, Missy. And thanks again for stopping by to chat with us. I can't wait to read the next one!
Okay, everyone, leave us a comment and we'll put your name in the hat for a drawing of Missy's new book Her Unlikely Family. It's a great read!