Welcome Christian Author Melissa Jagears to HeartWings Blog! Enjoy visiting with Melissa today! ~ Nyla Kay
Today I’m very excited to visit with Christian author Melissa Jagears. If you are not familiar with her, Melissa writes historical romance that is packed full of inspirational lessons, encouragement, and scripture. I have read every book she has written and can tell you with certainty, they are all magnificent. She is just not able to write a bad book. Grab a cup of coffee, hot tea, or whatever you like and let’s chat with this gifted author.
Hi Melissa! Let’s start by asking about your agent. Who is your agent and how did you find him/her?
My agent is Natasha Kern. Pre-published, I knew I wanted an agent, but a really good one, so paying attention at conferences, “listening” into online conversations, and asking people face-to-face (People are more willing to caution you against that), I narrowed my agent choices to six, though two were my top ones. Natasha was one of them.
When my critique partner signed with her, she recommended my books to her, and she asked for a partial submission. She sat on it a month but wanted to meet me at the conference first. I had lunch with her and listened to her class. There, I decided she was who I wanted.
That’s neat. So it didn’t take long?
Well, once she got home, she turned me down but told me to submit something else. I told her I was just going to keep submitting things until she caved and took me on. 🙂 That was it. That was my number one goal, to get Natasha to take me on. I wasn’t going to focus on anything else.
But I still submitted to contests with Bethany Final Judges for the feedback, and because Bethany was the publisher I wanted, when I won a contest with a different book just months later and the Bethany House editor asked for the full manuscript, I contacted Natasha and the others on my list of six to see if they wanted to read it prior to me submitting.
I told Bethany House I wanted to see if I could get an agent first.
Though Natasha was who I wanted, if she said no, I didn’t want to keep Bethany waiting too long. Three of the six asked to read it, but Natasha was the first to finish (probably because she already knew who I was and she’d been on the fence with the prior one) and the first to say yes. That was it for me, I signed with her.
A happy ending to an interesting story and good information for new authors. Your newest book, “A Love So True” has the most beautiful cover and setting. How did you choose this setting? Is it a familiar place or distant one?
The mansion on the covers of this series is the exact mansion that is my setting. It’s in the same town I used to go to church in before I moved. And the photographs were taken by a woman at the Chamber of Commerce.
The Brown Mansion is a lovely building in the “middle of nowhere” Kansas that I drove past a lot—-in the middle of a prairie town too intriguing to drive by and not think about writing a story about it. However, before it was given to the city, it only had one owner, the Browns.
So there really wasn’t a way to put fictional people in it, so I just made up a town and plopped it there. The town is made up, the history of the mansion is made up, but I’m describing the real one in the books.
You did a great job. I felt like I was in Teaville. Who did you dedicate “A Love So True” to and why?
I dedicated this book to a woman who is always in my acknowledgments, my critique partner Naomi Rawlings. This book was tough to write, my husband was living in another city so I was essentially single parenting, trying to find a house to move into where he worked, trying to sell my home, losing four vehicles in the space of six months, surgeries—-and all that sort of stuff.
In the midst of it all, I just couldn’t get this plot right, which I prefer done before I start writing. So, I basically wrote it in three months, and she read it in one more. Not an ideal work schedule, but she stuck with me and put up with all my emotions caused by the turmoil of my life.”
Wow! That certainly sounds like a lot of turmoil. I am amazed that you were able to write this fabulous book in only three months, especially with so much happening.
Melissa, when did God first call you into this ministry?
I wouldn’t say He called me into this ministry. God’s will is that you do all that you do for His glory. Whether you’re a McDonald’s employee, writer, mechanic, janitor, lawyer, a stay-at-home mom, etcetera.
I totally agree. It’s in the scriptures.
I surveyed my talents in high school and knew that a language job would best take advantage of the talents I’d been given. I chose first to be an English Language teacher. I meant to teach overseas, but after getting married, I chose public school ESL teaching instead.
When I stayed home to have children, I needed something to do between pattycake and diaper changing and took up writing. God had His hand in all of the above vocations since my goal in all of them was to glorify Him in the best ways that I could in each.
We are instructed to work as for God. You have a talent and give God the glory in all of your books. Speaking of babies, tell us about your family. How many children do you have? Do you have any pets?
I met my husband at a hotel I was working at while still in college after I spent a month in China teaching English. We married in 2001 and struggled with infertility until our first girl in 2006. I’ve since had two boys.
I have an almost eleven-year-old girl, and my boys are six and three. I homeschool them in Kansas. I love homeschooling because I can nurture their talents and interests. Such as my girl loves Shakespeare, Classical art, Leonardo da Vinci, graphic novels, astronomy, weather, drama, and Greek and Roman History.
So I tailor her subjects to match her interests. Why make her write an essay about dinosaurs when she’d rather research and write about early astronomers? Same skills taught, but her enthusiasm makes it fun.
I have one male cat my girl named Sunflower, so for the sake of his masculine ego, we call him Sonny. And our dog, Mickey, was dropped off on us in the country, but he desperately wanted to have a family and hung around even though he was emaciated and sick until we were able to get close enough to help him. He’s very protective of our children.
That sounds like a delightful family. I love the cat’s name. Your daughter has some neat interests. I bet she is a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat. It has been fun getting to know you better. I will be praying for you and your ministry.
Carol Award winning writer, Melissa Jagears, is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian Historical Romance into the wee hours of the night. She’s the author of the Unexpected Brides Series with Bethany House. The prequel ebook novella, Love by the Letter, is her ACFW Carol Award winning novella and free to try.
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In “A Love So True”, Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town’s red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn’t limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well–if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.
David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father’s companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he’s shown interest in Evelyn’s work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause.
They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?
Melissa has graciously agreed to offer “Love by the Letter” free on Amazon. Also, to one of our commenters, please answer this:
From Melissa: “They can win a paperback copy, US only. By telling me of a local place or local history tidbit that they think would make a good setting or premise for a story as a blog comment.”