Award-winning author Tessa Emily Hall writes for the teen audience and has a passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teenagers. She is also an Associate Agent at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), the Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net, and a former teen columnist for WholeMagazine.org.
Tessa’s first teen devotional, Coffee Shop Devos, released from Bethany House earlier this month. Her novel Purple Moon was a 2014 Selah Award Finalist in YA Fiction, and her novel Unwritten Melody was a four-time finalist at the 2015 Blue Ridge Novelist Retreat. Tessa’s blog ChristisWrite.blogspot.com received second place in the 2013 blog category at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference.
What started you on your writing journey?
I officially launched my writing journey when I was fifteen years old—that’s when I decided to pursue writing seriously. I did this by enrolling in a creative writing course through my online school, taking a course at Christian Writers Guild, and investing hours into perfecting my craft.
When I was sixteen I attended my first conference—Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. It’s there that I met who would soon become the publisher for my debut novel (Purple Moon). I signed the contract for this book with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas at seventeen years old, and the book was then released when I was nineteen.
If it wasn’t for the connections I’ve made at conferences over the years, there’s no way any of this would have happened!
Let’s talk about your new book, Coffee Shop Devos: Daily Devotional Pick-Me-Ups for Teen Girls (Bethany House, September 2018). Please tell us about it.
Coffee Shop Devos combines teens’ love for coffee shops and their longing to connect by offering conversational-style devotionals categorized by their daily needs. Instead of reading a devotion in accordance with the date, teens can instead read a devotion that speaks to their current need (such as encouragement, inspiration, motivation, etc.). This approach, I believe, contributes to the book’s conversational atmosphere.
What sparked the idea for the book?
I’ve wanted to write a devotional for teen girls since I was a teen myself. In fact, I recently discovered a note I wrote to myself when I was 14 (in my Bible, actually!). I’d jotted down a non-fiction book idea I had for teens. The concept was actually similar to Coffee Shop Devos and probably inspired by the book Scriptures For Your Everyday Needs. This book categorizes Scripture based on the reader’s daily needs. I’ve referred to this book for years and love this concept, so it probably stuck with me subconsciously as I delved into writing the devotional.
Of course, the coffee shop theme derived simply because of my love for coffee. I thought it’d be fun for teens to have a list of coffee beverages in the “menu of contents” that coincide with the various chapter topics. And what teen doesn’t enjoy an occasional frappe?
When not writing, what’s your favorite pastime?
Is it cliche to say that my favorite thing to do when I’m not writing is to read? Lol! But seriously—every evening I make sure to squeeze it at least a little bit of free reading time. Even if it’s just five minutes. This is especially enjoyed with a cup of herbal tea and some dark chocolate!
I also enjoy creating lattes (of course), decorating art journals, and watching movies—or reality competition shows, such as America’s Got Talent. But to be honest, I don’t have too much free time these days!
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I know you like coffee (grin). But when the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Dark chocolate and peanut butter! Especially when they’re melted together using the microwave. Yum.
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
Oh, I love this! My favorite Scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:1. This says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (NLT)
This verse reminds me to try to view my circumstances from God’s POV. He sees my life from a bird’s-eye view perspective, whereas I can only see the now. At times, it may feel as if the season I’m in is taking forever—but I need to remember that God sees the big picture. He knows how each “puzzle piece” is necessary and how it will contribute to a beautiful painting that He’s creating through my days. There’s a time and a purpose for each season that I walk through, and each one is necessary for the unveiling of God’s perfect will.
Please tell us about the “readers only” section of your blog.
This is a private page on my website that I’ve created specifically for my newsletter subscribers as a “thank you” for being a reader. On this page, I include a free monthly(ish) giveaway for a $10 gift card to Starbucks or Amazon (winner’s choice). Readers also receive access to bonus content material for each of my books, as well as free coffee recipes to download.
If readers are interested in gaining access to this page, they can sign up by clicking here!
Thanks, Tessa! It’s nice to have you as a guest at Divine Detour!
Thanks so much for having me! = )
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For more information about Tessa, visit her website and/or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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Thanks again for having me! I enjoyed the interview!
My pleasure, Tessa! I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you at ACFW!