Today we welcome the funny, talented, and kind debut author Melissa Tagg! This girl will make you laugh, she’s real, and she works at a non-profit. I know, it doesn’t get better than that! Well, except that she writes thoughtful, funny romantic fiction.
You work at a non-profit, can you share about that and what role that work plays in your fiction?
Sure! I work at a Christian homeless ministry in Des Moines. We’re actually the largest, privately-funded provider of programs and services for those who are homeless and hungry in Iowa. I’m the grant-writer and communications coordinator—which means in addition to writing grants, I also work with our newsletters, direct mail appeals, eblasts, social media, videos, etc.
I really feel strongly that caring for our hurting neighbors is something God feels strongly about. In the Old Testament, you see Him telling people not to harvest the edges of their fields—to leave that grain for the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus says whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for him. In James we’re told true religion is caring for the widows and orphans. We all have a role to play in helping the hurting among us.
More than anything, my role at Hope Ministries has taught me about compassion, hurting when others are hurting, learning to see people through Christ’s eyes. Those are lessons I know I’ll continue learning for the rest of my life…so those themes definitely show up in my fiction. My first book, for instance, includes a shelter for orphans with special medical needs. My second book includes an adult with Down syndrome who finds herself homeless for a short time. In both books, the main characters step up to the plate to help out. I would love to inspire people to do the same.
Made to Last is a romantic comedy, in movies what is your favorite romantic comedy? In life, what things make you laugh?
Oh boy, that movie question is like asking someone to walk into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and pick out just one thing to eat. I LOVE classic romantic comedies like It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, really anything with Cary Grant or Katherine Hepburn. I’m on record call The Philadelphia Story the best rom-com of all time, so if I had to pick one, it might be that.
I’m not a huge fan of too many current rom-coms, but I did adore Dan in Real Life. It was such a perfect picture of family life, and who knew Steve Carell could be so heart-tugging?
As for what makes me laugh in real life: Without question, my family. They are a hilarious bunch.
An element of Made to Last includes being real vs. the person we hope for people to see. Why do you feel its important as woman of faith to be transparent about who we are including our struggles?
It’s funny because about halfway through writing Made to Last, it suddenly hit me: God had me writing this story for…me. I tend to be very tempted to find my worth in accomplishments or goals achieved—like how my character, Miranda, finds her value in her career success. But often it’s when those things are stripped away that we figure out who we really are—loved by an amazing God.
And here’s the thing: If I really, truly believe that I’m created, valued and cherished by a loving God, then why would I want to present any other picture of myself to the world around me than that person…the person He made me to be? For me, that’s what it comes down to. If I’m spending time and effort trying to display some other persona, then that says something about where I’m finding my worth.
But when I’m secure in who I am in Christ, then it’s easier to be transparent. Not necessarily easy—especially when it comes to my struggles—but easier. And we’re so much freer to really make a difference in the lives of the people around us when we’re not so busy trying to be people we aren’t.
Thank you SO much for having me on your blog, Lisa!
Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her work as a grant writer and communications coordinator at Iowa’s largest homeless ministry, she also serves as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Melissa blogs regularly at Melissa Tagg and loves connecting with readers on Facebook , Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg), Youtube and Goodreads.
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How do you feel about keeping it real? Why is it so hard?