Pen Friends – If you do not know this girl – you should! Published at 19, avid writing coach for teens, actress, literary agent intern, successful blogger, and coffee connoisseur.
SP: Can you tell us a bit of who you are and when you started writing?
Sure! My name is Tessa, and I started writing since before I could hardly hold a pencil. =) I was three-years-old when I began to dictate stories to my mom. Any time I was bored throughout my childhood, I would sit down at the dining room table with a stack of blank paper and crayons, and write story after story. I fell in love with the thrill of becoming another person all through the power of a pen.
This passion never stopped; it only multiplied. By the time I reached high school, there wasn’t any other career I wanted to pursue except writing. So, when I was sixteen, I went to my first writing conference, which is where I met my future publisher. My YA novel, PURPLE MOON, was then published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas when I was nineteen.
SP: So, coffee. You’re very open about your love of the stuff. How would you convert a non-coffee-drinking writer?
I’m always trying to convert non-coffee-drinkers! I’ve won a couple of them over, too. =) I can’t imagine being a writer and NOT being a coffee-lover. Lol! Coffee, as well as my imperial shih-tzu, is my constant writing companion.
What I always tell non-coffee-drinkers is that they really DO like coffee—they just haven’t found the drink they love yet. There are plenty of blends, flavors, and creamers to choose from that could create your perfect drink. And the greatest benefit for writers? It’s the creative power that caffeinated coffee seems to acquire. The one that gives me the superpower to write 2000 words per hour, stay up throughout the night working on a book, and brainstorm crazy ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Seriously. Those beans are magical.
SP: What was your favorite part of Purple Moon to write? The hardest part?
Hmm, great question! My favorite part was probably the scene that unveils the meaning behind the purple moon. I also really enjoyed another scene near the end, when—well, I can’t give away any spoilers. Let’s just say it had to do with lavender. Oh, and all of the coffee shop scenes. It was so much fun to create my dream coffee shop without having to worry about the financial aspects of it. 😉
The hardest part of writing was the non-writing parts—editing in particular. Although I’m not one of those writers who resent the editing process (I actually enjoy it), the process on this book was extremely long, mainly because I was a teenager and still had a lot to learn about the craft. Honestly, I remember editing Purple Moon far more than I remember writing it!
SP: The atmosphere of Purple Moon is very realistic. Where did this idea come from?
I think the fact that I was sixteen at the time of writing it has a lot to do with that. =) I knew firsthand what teens experienced, desired, the insecurities they dealt with, etc.
As a teen, I struggled to find books that were relatable and authentic, yet fairly clean at the same time. My goal was to write a story that could fit this bill. One that could serve the purpose of reflecting the average teen’s life and longings in a way that helped them cope with their surroundings, while still remaining a positive influence as well.
The character, Selena, came to mind first, including the inner journey she took over the course of the book. I then crafted the outer journey (plot) based on her attempt to achieve her desire for a “new beginning,” heal from her past, and overcome her personal struggles.
SP: For our younger writers, do you have any tips on how to complete their stories?
Ask yourself this question: How much progress could you make in your book if you invested your social media/TV time into writing instead? Many younger writers are all too often intimidated by the idea of writing a book. But truth is, you don’t have to know all about how to write a book before you begin, nor do you have to wait for the “perfect conditions,” either (AKA never).
Every step of the writing journey moves at a snail’s pace (for most people). Because of this, there’s no better time to begin your writing journey than as a teen or college student. Carve out a block of time each day to focus on writing—whether it’s early in the morning before school or late at night before bed. Progress is progress, no matter how small, and if you keep at it daily, then your book can still be complete at an early age.
The key, however, is to write the story that you are passionate about—one that you want to write not necessarily for publication, but for yourself. One that you could find joy in getting lost in daily.
Then, discipline yourself. Persevere even when the inspiration and passion are lacking. This is the only way you will begin to see true progress.
Remember: Even if you write one page every day for a year, that’s 365 pages. You could have an entire book complete by next year if you stick to it.
SP: You pour into young writers through your blog. What do you hope your readers take away from it?
That they can pursue a career out of writing. I think often times, writers become discouraged for multiple reasons: The time it takes to reach publication, rejections, self-doubt, the probability of success, etc. I also know there are those who assume a career cannot be created from writing. However, if one has a burning passion to write, usually it is there for a reason, and it should not be put to waste. Like my mom always told me growing up—someone has to be an author, so why can’t it be you?
Also, I hope to encourage young writers to begin their writing journey as soon as they can. Here’s why: Almost every time I attend a writing conference, I’m constantly told by those who are—well, older—that they applaud me for beginning early. They then tell the story of their journey, how they had a passion to write growing up, yet strayed from pursuing it as a career until they reached their 40s or 50s.
If writing is something you enjoy, don’t ignore it. Keep going. Take the necessary steps that will some day turn this passion into an income. Because the truth is, the writing journey is a long process. It often takes at least 10 years before a first-time writer sees their name in print.
Learn the ins and outs of the industry—the “roadmap” of publication”—and stick to the course, despite the obstacles along the way. Be ruthless with your goals. It’s only through patience, perseverance, and passion will you reach the destination you’re striving toward.
Obviously, I have a lot to say to young writers. =) If you’re a teen or young adult, you may be interested in checking out my writing column for you, Dear Young Scribes, at AlmostAnAuthor.com.
SP: You’re involved in much more than writing. What’s next for you?
I recently completed my stand-alone novel, which is currently being shopped to publishers. I’m also writing the sequel to Purple Moon and have been working as an intern for my literary agent at Hartline Agency.
Also, in March I launched PursueMagazine.net, an online inspirational magazine for teen girls. We’re hoping to release our first digital issue of the magazine this fall.
I’ve begun to test the waters in acting, another passion of mine, as well. I worked on PROVIDENCE last year—a beautiful Christian love story that recently released in theaters and will be available via DVD May 24th. (Details can be found here.) I recently had the opportunity to work on a Christian short film titled A BEAUTIFUL LIFE, which should be available by the end of the summer. (Details here.)
SP: If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring novelist, what would it be?
Read, research, and write. Read books that are both in and out of the genre you hope to write; research the craft, industry, and business aspect of writing; and write as often as you can. You can check out writing resources here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
SP: Where can we learn more about you and your book?
You can check out my website, www.TessaEmilyHall.com and blog, www.ChristIsWrite.blogspot.com. Information about school, youth group, and Skype visits can be found by clicking here. Also, if you’re a teen, be sure to check out www.PursueMagazine.net for inspirational and encouraging advice on how to make the most of your youth by pursuing your calling.
SP: Thanks, we have loved hearing from you! Looking forward to the publication of your next novel and forthcoming films!
Thank you so much for having me! =)
Purple Moon Blurb:
Selena’s life isn’t turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid.
That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena … but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn’t how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her “bad habits” for this.
Things don’t seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that’s been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin’s nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom’s example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?
Nova, signing off.