[Blog Tour + Interview + Giveaway] Unwritten Melody by Tessa Emily Hall
Good morning, my lovely readers! Or whatever time it is that you're reading this. Today an old friend of Emily Rachelle Writes is back to share her new book with us. Some of you may remember Tessa Emily Hall and her visit to talk about Purple Moon. Her newest title, Unwritten Melody, is available for purchase November 2016.
About the Book
Tessa Emily Hall on GoodReads
Tessa Emily Hall on Amazon
Tessa Emily Hall on Barnes & Noble
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.
About Tessa Emily Hall
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. Tessa 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.
Tell us a little about yourself first.
My name is Tessa, and I’m a 22-year-old author of inspirational and authentic YA fiction. I love making homemade lattes, art journals, and encouraging teens to pursue their God-given callings.
Why did you start writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
Here’s what’s odd: I didn’t choose writing. Writing chose me. As cliché as that sounds, it’s so true. I started dictating stories to my mom when I was 3-years-old, and she would write them down for me. Back then, I wrote because I loved the process of using my imagination to create characters and stories, all through the power of a pen and paper. (It was similar to playing Barbies for me!) I was the weird kid in school whose favorite part of homework was studying the spelling/vocab words and creating sentences that incorporated those words. My favorite subject in school was writing. So yes, I can’t remember a time when I haven’t not wanted to be a writer.
What do you do when you're not writing?
I must be a boring person, because everything I do seems to be related to either reading or writing. Or watching movies. Lol! But I do love coffee. (Of course, because what stereotypical author doesn’t love coffee?) And I love making art journals. (Which is related to writing…) Oh, I’m also passionate about acting. I’ve been involved in a couple of Christian films and very much enjoy the process of helping to bring a story and a character to life.
What was the biggest obstacle to getting published for the first time, and how did you overcome it? What motivated you to push through the obstacle?
I’m not sure if this is considered an obstacle, but it was definitely something that could have prevented me from pursuing publication – and that is my age. I was 16-years-old when I wrote my debut novel, Purple Moon. Yet I didn’t want my age to hold me back from achieving my writing dreams. I had a burning desire to write a book to the best of my ability, then to pursue publication. I didn’t want to waste any time in furthering my writing journey. (Side note: As a kid, I constantly begged my mom to publish my stories for me. So technically, I had already been waiting for about ten years to publish a book. Lol!)
When I attended my first writing conference at 16-years-old, I was prepared to not be taken seriously. Many of the adults at the conference automatically assumed I was there to support my mom rather than the other way around. I met with an author at the conference who – before looking over the writing sample I had with me – advised that I wait until I reached my late twenties before I pursued publication.
Then, there were others. People who thought I was wise to begin my writing journey at a young age. People, like my future publisher, who saw potential and encouraged me to continue. This future publisher of mine (from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was intrigued by the storyline and requested that I send him the rest of my manuscript upon returning home from the conference.
To be honest, I’m not sure why, exactly, I had such a passion to pursue publication at a young age. I can assure you, though, it wasn’t because I wanted recognition or riches. I simply didn’t see the point in waiting. Being the youngest in my family and the youngest of my cousins, I’ve always felt a little older than my age.
So, even though the publisher offered me a contract a few months later, I left it untouched for about six months. I was thrilled at the offer, yes – but just as I was determined to pursue publication, I was just as determined to write the best book to my ability. I didn’t want readers to criticize my writing and blame it on my age. I spent several months honing my craft, editing the book, and applying the writing techniques I had learned through conferences, books, and blogs. Finally, at 17-years-old, I signed the publishing contract with LPC for Purple Moon. =)
What keeps you motivated?
As I began to form a relationship with Christ when I reached about 13-years-old, God laid it on my heart to write Christian stories for teens. At the time, I had no idea that the Christian fiction genre even existed. I remember the day I Googled “Christian books for teens” and found numerous books by Melody Carlson. Needless to say, I knew that was the path God wanted me to walk with my writing. Not necessarily writing only Christian fiction books, but stories that at least pointed to Him. (Unwritten Melody isn’t considered Christian fiction.)
A burning passion to write is how this journey began, and it’s what will keep it going. But over the years, my purpose in writing has shifted a bit. It’s no longer a hobby. It’s no longer something I do to entertain myself. Rather, it’s a way that I can minister to teens who live on the other side of the country or world.
Storytelling is the instrument God has given me that enables me to connect with the hearts of others. Storytelling is powerful. I’ve learned this not just from writing and hearing from readers, but through reading books myself. Stories help us make sense of our own lives, our own pain, and the world around us. They give us empathy for others. They help us feel less alone. They help us see the big picture of our lives.
This is what motivates me to write. Because that burning desire that birthed within me at 3-years-old has yet to diminish. In fact, it’s grown. It’s developed into a longing to plant seeds into the lives of others through my writing – seeds that will, eventually, steer them in the direction of Christ. This is what I pray for every day before I begin writing. It’s my #1 purpose in writing. Without it, writing would still be a simple hobby of mine; entertaining, yet not fulfilling. By viewing my writing as a ministry, though, I feel as if I’m fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.
What was your favorite book or author as a teen? What's your favorite now?
My favorite books as a teen were definitely the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. It was so much fun following a relatable teen in her journeys throughout her teen years, as well as in her walk with the Lord. I also devoured books by Melody Carlson and Jenny B. Jones.
When I was a senior in high school, I read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and fell in love. That’s the first book that showed me just how powerful storytelling can be, and since then it’s remained my favorite novel. My favorite author, however, is Karen Kingsbury. I’ve yet to come across a book of hers that I don’t like. The way she uses her books as a ministry and writes with such a raw, emotional realism is something I hope to accomplish with my own stories.
What is your book about? Target age range?
Here’s the tagline: When a sheltered young girl meets a risk-taking musician, she faces the decision to break the rules and take a chance on love, or live the rest of her life in bondage.
The target age range for this book is 13 – 18. Some younger readers may enjoy it, though, depending on their maturity level. Although the content is clean (it is, in fact, published by Clean Reads), I still advise that parents of younger teens read it first, just to make sure that it meets their standards.
What is your goal in writing and publishing this book?
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 with Unwritten Melody with newfound hope for their current circumstances and a deeper revelation of the power of God’s unending love.
Do you have any advice or resources you'd like to share for other writers?
Don’t give up! Write the story on your heart, not just the one you think will sell. Write the story you’re most passionate about right now, the one that has grabbed ahold of your heart and refuses to let go.
After I wrote and edited the first version of this book, I took a long break from the story. I thought for sure the flaws in the story were too complex to fix. So, I tried writing another book. It didn’t last long before I returned to Unwritten Melody. The story and the characters wouldn’t relent until I fixed the manuscript’s issues.
I spent fall 2015 rewriting the story from scratch. The premise of the story was the same. The characters were the same, as well as the setting. Most of everything else was different.
I can’t explain the exhilarating feeling that came with writing that final scene in the final chapter. Through hours and hours of perseverance, the book that I had envisioned at 17-years-old was finally taking shape. It was living and breathing. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t first believe that the issues could be fixed, and second if I didn’t carve out the time required to rewrite the story.
Lessons learned: 1) A book is never "unfixable." 2) Never throw away the story on your heart.
Aspiring authors, spend as much as you can reading books, researching the craft and industry, and writing. I wouldn’t be where I am in my writing journey today if I hadn’t followed those three steps. It really is as simple as that. =) And most importantly, don’t give up!
Connect with Tessa:
Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize Pack! Two winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9 th ) 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
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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 (You're here!)
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 Brutt
Tues., November 29 - Katy Kauffman
Wed., November 30 – Jen Pheobus
Thurs., December 1 – Northern Belle Meg
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