Thursday, December 1, 2016

Unwritten Melody Blog Tour




Welcome to the 23rd stop on Tessa Emily Hall's Unwritten Melody blog tour! I think this is actually the first ever blog tour I've participated in (not the last) and I'm really excited to be a part of it. Tessa and I have been connected through social media for a couple of years now. I love her heart for writing and her commitment to creating inspirational stories for young adults. I also appreciate that she's only twenty-two, so we're rather close in age and we do similar things. :) Anyway...  

I hope you all enjoy learning about Tessa's latest release, Unwritten Melody! Don't forget to enter her awesome giveaway at the end of this post.



Book Blurb

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.


Book Links:








What was the inspiration behind Unwritten Melody?

I loved the idea of having a songwriter (Cassie) mesh her lyrics together with a musician (James), and for the pieces to fit together like a puzzle—almost as though the lyrics and songs were created for each another.

I also knew that I wanted to somehow incorporate the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson into the novel. I first learned about this poet in my 8th grade English class. I remember becoming fascinated – not only with her works, but also with the unique story of her life. After I brainstormed the premise to Unwritten Melody, I knew Cassie’s own life would shadow perfectly that of Dickinson’s and highlight the book’s theme in the process.

What is the message you hope readers will grasp after reading Unwritten Melody?

It’s my hope that, through any book that I write, readers will realize they are not alone in their life’s journey – in the questions they wrestle with, emotions they deal with, situations they experience, etc. And hopefully, through following the journey that my characters take, readers can find a solution for their own problems as well.

I specifically hope readers will come away from Unwritten Melody with newfound hope for their current circumstances and a deeper revelation of the power of God’s unending love.

Could you give a brief overview of the writing and publication process behind Unwritten Melody?

I brainstormed the plot when I was seventeen-years-old—the spring of 2011. I was working on my debut novel, Purple Moon at the time, so I filed the idea away until I could have dedicated time to focus on it. Finally, I wrote the first draft when I was eighteen and working on the edits to Purple Moon. That draft continued to develop and transform as I went through the editing/revision process for over a year.

When I was twenty-one, my agent sent me a long edit letter, detailing the major areas that needed to be fixed in the plot. I was extremely grateful for the feedback—yet at the same time, a part of me was discouraged, because it would require a great deal of “book surgery” to fix the errors in the plot. That was a lot to take on, especially after I’d already spent over a year in edits.

So, I stepped away from the book and poured my energy into another project. Yet the story didn’t let me avoid it for long. I knew that the book didn’t exactly match the original story that was first laid on my heart several years before, and I was determined to make that happen.

To make a long story short—I spent the fall of 2015 applying my agent’s suggestions and rewriting the entire book from scratch. It still has the same characters, premise, and setting, but now the novel matches the original novel I had first brainstormed when I was seventeen.

The book went on submission to publishers winter 2016. One day in May, while I was packing to leave for a writer’s conference, I received a phone call from my literary agent with the great news—Clean Reads had offered a contract. :) (I knew they were considering it because they had requested the manuscript about a month before.)

The moral of the story? Never give up on the story of your heart!

What’s next in your writing journey?

I’m currently working on the sequel to Purple Moon (which has been another lengthy project) and hope to finish it by winter 2016. I’ve also been working on a teen devotional that I’m really excited about!

After that? Well, I hope to continue writing inspirational and authentic novels for teens and possibly write another installment in the Purple Moon series. I don’t see myself switching genres any time soon! But I do hope to delve more into non-fiction as well.

Although God is the Ultimate Author of my future, I always ask Him to give me the desires He wants me to have. Right now, my burning desire is this: To write books that transform lives—stories that portray the power of God’s steadfast love and His unending grace.

What advice would you like to give aspiring authors?

First of all, stay fueled with a passion for writing. Build your writing journey on a foundation that consists of a love for both reading and writing. Write because you can’t not write, because honestly, if you don’t begin with this kind of passion, then it’s going to be far too tempting to quit when the discouragement comes. (Notice that I said when, not if!) It’s important to also find the time to write and stay disciplined with your writing time because perseverance is the only way you’ll produce an actual book.

Then, learn as much about the craft and industry as you can through blogs, books, workshops, and conferences. Apply what you learn to your manuscript. Network with other writers on blogs, social media, critique groups, and at writing conferences. Keep a teachable spirit. Remember that, no matter how naturally gifted you may be in writing, every writer could use improvement to grow.

Finally, create long-term and short-term goals for your writing journey. I’ve met so many writers who never pursued their writing dreams because, A) They didn’t push themselves to finish a book, B) They gave up too soon, C) They didn’t learn how a book is published, therefore never pursued publication and believed that “being an author” was an impossible achievement.

I love to mentor young writers through my course, Write Now. You can find more info about this 3-month program at this link.

Giveaway:

Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize PackTwo winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9th) and will be notified via email. 





This prize pack includes…



* E-copy of Unwritten Melody

* Signed paperback copy of Purple Moon

* Unwritten Melody mug, filled with goodies

* Unwritten Melody swag, including a bookmark, pen, and poster

* Starbucks mocha flavored instant coffee

* Free Unwritten Melody: Page-By-Page Secrets PDF

* Handmade journal

* Typewritten thank you note


*This giveaway is open to the US only


Bio:

Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, PURPLE MOON (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, UNWRITTEN MELODY, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of PursueMagazine.net, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. She also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.

Other Way to Connect with Tessa:



Don’t miss the next blog tour stop! Be sure to visit the following blogs on its designated tour date. You can also email tessaemilyhall (at) gmail (dot) com and request to receive the Blog Tour Packet. At the end of the tour, Tessa will send you the downloadable PDF that will contain all of the content from each blog tour stop. 

Tues., November 1 – Christ is Write
Wed., November 2 - Adriana Gabrielle Writes
Thurs., November 3 – The Depth of My Faith
Fri., November 4 - Sarah Ruut
Mon., November 7 – God is Love
Tues., November 8 – The Bibliophile Angel
Wed., November 9 - Emily Rachelle Writes
Thurs, November 10 – Word Changers For His Glory
Fri., November 11 – Christian Teen Book Reviews
Mon., November 14 – Phyllis Still
Tues., November 15 – In The Bookcase
Wed., November 16 – Girl Meets Publishing World
Thurs., November 17 - Anna Schaeffer
Fri., November 18 – Ramblings of a Writer
Mon., November 21 - Naomi and Books
Tues., November 22 – Reading is My Superpower
Wed., November 23 – Zerina Blossom’s Books
Thurs., November 24 - Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud
Fri., November 25 – Labor Not in Vain
Mon., November 28 - Barbara Bruitt
Tues., November 29 - Katy Kauffman
Wed., November 30 – Jen Pheobus
Thurs., December 1 – Fireflies in a Jar
Fri., December 2 – 2Me From Him
Mon., December 5 - Nicole Quigley
Tues., December 6 – The Destiny of One
Wed., December 7 - Catherine Castle
Thurs., December 8 - Rachelle Rea Cobb
Fri., December 9 – Leslie L. Mckee

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Photo Album: Niagara Falls


I feel a little awkward sharing personal pictures on my blog these days, but these are super special and I wanted you guys to see them too.

My dad came to visit a few weeks ago and we got to tour Niagara Falls! We had a pretty amazing time. The sun was really high in the sky, so I couldn't even see the screen of my phone while I was taking these. I was so excited with how they turned out. Obviously, pictures aren't the same as being there, so go yourself if you ever have the chance.  























Thursday, November 3, 2016

This Was Written by an Amateur


I've been meaning to talk about writing for a long time. Mostly, that I can't write. Words, motivation, and joy have all been absent. I've felt pretty discouraged, and I've been focusing an overwhelming amount of my attention to things that cannot be written down here, for two reasons. The first being there has been too much wrong for me to be able to express it, either vocally or on paper. The second reason is more practical. It is merely that there are people involved, and there are just some things you can't talk about because they're not yours to speak of.

I am doing well, though (I mean, really well), and over the past two months, I have distanced myself from the pressure of blogging. This is in an effort to renew my joy and love for blogging, and to eliminate the feeling of obligation I've started connecting to it. This break has been a welcome breath of fresh air, and has taught me a great deal about writing and how I relate to it personally.

Particularly, I've been learning that despite all the motivational quotes on Pinterest about how you should never stop writing, it is indeed okay to stop writing. It's better to stop than to risk harming yourself or others through accumulating unnecessary pressure, stress, and pain. Taking a break, no matter how long, is not the same as quitting.

Other things I've been learning about writing, I am still processing, but I want to talk about them. If you read my 
last blog post, you'll know that while I don't regret signing as a teen author, there are a lot of things about writing professionally as a teen that I am questioning and rethinking. If you were to ask me today if it's a good idea to sign as a teen, I would probably say no (but hey, don't let that discourage you. If that's your dream, do it and conquer it like heck.)

This semester, I've been taking a literature course and I've had the opportunity to read numerous short stories written by some of time's greatest authors. The most valuable thing I've learned from these stories is that you can be creative and successful both at the same time. Until recently, a great deal of the writing instruction I've received has encouraged only one right way of making a story. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with Freytag and his triangle. There's nothing wrong with "showing" instead of "telling," or writing in first person present tense or eliminating exclamation points because that's what the editors like these days. 



But do understand this: writing is about creativity. Writing is about having a free spirit, it's painting with words and creating stories that make the world stop spinning. Some of the best and most brilliant works have been created at the fingers of artists who never heard of Freytag and his pyramid. Some of the best stories ever written have been left without the trace of a climax or have had numerous climaxes, and they've been beautiful. They've been beautiful and they've been successful because they've been created by a person and a mind that is strictly unique and valiantly brilliant. 

Writing trends are always going to change. Stories that are wildly successful right now for their strict adherence to the "laws" of words may be forgotten in years to come. But if you can create a story that solely belongs to you, one where every element was arranged and created in your mind and at your fingertips, it won't be something easily forgotten. It will change your life, and it may change others.

“Marked individuality” is a term L.M. Montgomery uses in her books sometimes, and I feel like this is a really lovely way to view writing. “Marked individuality,” in fact, is a great way to express any art form. Something that’s all your own, belongs completely to you, and was breathed right out of your own soul--something no one else can create, only you. That may be why I love writing so much: I love having something unique that belongs wholly and completely to me. I think God felt this way when He created us, and why He loves so much when we belong to Him.

Writing is a really difficult profession because writers are the voice of the world. People who write have been the catalysts behind some of the world’s biggest, most historical movements and events. Journalists, novelists, short story and article authors quite literally change the direction of the world. A writer’s voice can call out from one continent and be heard in another. They can speak in one millennium and be heard in another. Their mark is powerful and their words have the potential to exist forever.

I don’t want to say this makes us targets necessarily, it doesn’t. But it does give us an incredible responsibility that is consciously or unconsciously recognized by everyone around us, and everyone who influences us. 

I love people who talk to me about my writing, I really, really do. I love people who give me suggestions and criteria and ideas and I love when the people I love are fingerprinted into my stories. But there’s this thing that’s been bugging me lately. I feel pressured. I feel so, so pressured—mostly by strangers or acquaintances and friends I haven’t known very long. I feel this burden setting in from people who love me and mean well. 

And this is what I’m learning: that this pressure is required in order to be a storyteller. Writers speak for the world, and so, they carry it too. We speak for people who can’t write, or who don’t have a platform. We speak for the creatively deaf and for the people who hurt too much to hone their own voice, or the people who aren’t brave enough to speak yet. We speak for the people who are too busy for writing and the people who can’t afford to do it as their career. 

And, the world notices. 

I think for some people, it’s an unconscious reaction. Depending on where I am, I like to keep my writing career pretty quiet. When people find out I write, they automatically start overwhelming me with their thoughts and opinions, and their most brilliant ideas that would really change the world, if only they could put them on a platform. They tell me how to write, they tell me what opinions to have and how I should express them, they tell me what to think and how to think. They don’t do it consciously, it just happens. They see me as a platform and an outlet.

It’s exhausting.

It’s beautiful, it’s a great privilege, and an incredible responsibility. It requires thought, time, and philosophy, because I am speaking for the people who can’t be heard, and gosh I adore those people. I've dedicated my life to them.

But sometimes, when you’re a writer… there are voice you have to tone down. There are voices and people you have to stop hearing, because ultimately your writing is yours. It’s your "marked individuality," it’s your molded creation, and as much as you would love to, you can’t let everyone else shove their agendas into your stories. You decide your own agendas. You have to write your own stories. You have to be you, create what is yours, free of other’s writing rules, ideas, brilliant epiphany’s, and their opinions. Writing is freedom and it requires freedom and free spirits.  


Love people, listen to and understand their ideas, but don’t let someone else write their story through you. In the end, you be brave enough to make the choices. Write all that you know and feel and desire. Allow the freedom and creativity that is writing to flow through you, and let it be you only when it counts. Ultimately, don’t look to others to tell you what is great writing. You determine what is greatness to you, and you create from that.   




Saturday, October 1, 2016

This is How I Feel About My Book 10.1.16.



Three years ago today in 2013 was the day I signed a contract with Ellechor Publishing Company for my first novel. Things have been really wild since then. Adjusting to being a writer is weird. My company, Ellechor, has been taking a long time to even get things started with my book. With the recent bankruptcy of Send the Light (a major distributor for Christian books), it appears my novel's release date now has to be pushed back even further. Solid distribution is absolutely important to me, so I'm okay with that.

There are other things I'm not sure I'm 'okay' with, though. Things that involve me. I'm twenty now. I was sixteen when I wrote the book and seventeen when I signed. As I'm sure many of you older people know, life changes drastically within those three and four years. Your opinions change, you learn and experience life on a much broader scale. You grow up a lot. You move, and go to college, maybe have your heart broken, get a job, and you see the brokenness of the world at a much more extreme level.
I don't know a lot of older authors so it's hard for me to know if this is normal. But I'm not really sure I agree with everything I wrote four years ago. I'm not sure if it's well-written, I'm not sure if this book represents who I want to be as an author. I'm pretty sure it doesn't.
I've been juggling these thoughts. Weighing one against another and wondering whether my sixteen-year-old writing is salvageable. I've carefully avoided peeking into the pages of my dusty novel, and I've felt uneasy when an email appears in my inbox from Ellechor. Is this it? Is this going to be where I have to decide? 
Having a publishing contract has given me so many incredible opportunities in the writing field and I am thankful for them. Getting signed so young meant the whole entire world to me and it's been such a boost to my confidence as a writer. I was convinced at the time that signing with Ellechor was the absolutely the will of God, and exactly what He wanted for me. I still believe that. But as I look to Him for my future here and now, I am not so sure His will is the same.
I still want to be an author. My heart is absolutely still in writing. But I'm ready to say that I'm not sure this book is meant to be the one. It's been three years now, and I can cancel at any time without consequences. I can't say that hasn't been crossing my mind.
If you all would be praying for me as I work through this, I would really appreciate it. Love you all <3

Here's to October 1st, a day of big dreams and bright stars.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Truth Notebook 8/11/16




It’s far easier to judge than to redeem.
The light shines into the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
To give you the mind of Christ.
Healing is more about the heart than the body.
Hope against hope.
Jesus brings life to the dead.
Where are your accusers? 
He listens to me.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
No matter the spinning of your world.
Having lost all sensitivity.
I lean not on my own understanding.
The land has known peace.
Walk humbly, fear God.
Truth over lies.
This is how we know what love is.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might be called the righteousness of God.
So it was not you who sent me here, but God.
Seek and offer forgiveness.
If you love, you will break no law.


Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control


Here in the death of Christ, I live.
To the One who brings life to the dead.
Hear our prayers.
If you have anything against anyone, forgive him.
All because we do carry.
Faith is the hope of things unseen.
Bankrupt rainbows.
Do not be far from me, my God.
Into your hands I commit my spirit.
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
"Welcome to life."
These people worship me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.
Man shall not live by bread alone.
Who is this that even the wind and the seas obey Him? 



There will come a time you’ll see
With no more tears
And love will not break your heart
But dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see
What you’ll find there
With grace in your heart
And flowers in your hair


Who’s going to braid their hair?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice.
Obey and seek.
Seek and you will find.
That’s what He promises.The world is passing away, along with its desires.
Lift your feet.
In Him we live and move and have our being.



“I don’t want to forgive,” she admitted.
“I can’t. It will—” she broke off.
“Forgiveness is not death,” Trifine said. “It is life.”
“For who? Whose life? Forgiving allows people to get away with murder.” 
“Whose murder?” Melor asked, in the same tone her tutor had used when she was supposed to know the answer already. 
“Mine,” Perrotte ground out.
“Murdered, and yet, you live.” 

-The Castle Behind Thorns, Merrie Haskell



Friday, July 29, 2016

Articles I'm Breathing






Articles I've been reading this week:


How to Make Connections and Boost Your Writing Career by Rachelle Rea Cobb

This article was so great. I especially appreciated reading through Rachelle's list of ideas for making connections. I'm rather a shy person, and my online skills don't soar. But there's something about having these steps written down that makes creating a social presence seem so much feasible for me.

On Sharing My Summer Stories by Alyson Schroll

I can't express how much I love Alyson's writing. Everything she writes, I feel. There have been a few times when I've felt stressed or anxious about something, and an article or poem on her blog will calm me down. I particularly like this one, and it expresses a lot of what I've been feeling lately.


Whatever Your Politics, Your Clothes Are Conservative by Hannah Sillars

This was just intriguing. :)


If Dreams Were Dresses by Emily Rachelle

As much as I hate to "disclaim" here, I guess I do have to say that I don't agree with everything Emily writes on her blog. Let's not get the words "condemn" and "disclaim" mixed up, though. Emily is lovely, and this particular article is incredible. It urged me to think and forgive. And let's be real, those polo shirts are so classy. I hope one day I can live with as much grace as she portrays.

My Journey Away from Contemporary Worship Music by Dan Cogan

Besides the occasional, "Ouch, this is really cheesy," I don't have anything against contemporary worship music. I did really appreciate and resonate with what Dan had to say, though, and there will probably be more hymn-listening in my future after this.  


How to Get Serious About Blogging by Regina

This is a theme in my reading right now. Hopefully soon, it'll actually become a theme with my blog. We shall see. :)





If you haven't seen yet, I posted the beginning of one of my stories on Wattpad this week! You can view it here. 

What kinds of articles have you been reading lately? 





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

These are Some Things I Love






These are some things I love:



I love big skies, purple, golden, blue, and filled with fluffy clouds.
I love calligraphy and watercolor paints, and when the two arts are mixed together on paper with flowers.
I love calm music, sad music, guitars and pianos together and scripture in songs.
I love when it rains, so much.








I love to had my window open, and I love light in the morning.
I love mountains when they're blue in the summertime, and fuzzy in the winter.
I love road trips because they excuse listening to music for eight hours, and because you can watch trees.
I love making food, because it's like edible art.
I love harvesting potatoes, because when you pull them out of the earth you feel strong, and when you dig for them, it's like finding treasure.
I love having energy, the feeling of accomplishment, and having a productive day.
I love feeding kittens and holding babies.






I love watering flowers and picking them.
I love how it feels to read books again after a session of medicine.
I love the sound a strawberry stem makes when you snap it off.
I love the shape of birds when you draw them.
I love when I dream of flying.






I love when God's Word calms me down.
I love when my family prays before dinner.
I love walking in the dirt without shoes.
I love the word "kindness" and the idea of grace.
I love days when I feel like myself.











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