Melissa, describe yourself for our visitors.
I am a wife, mother, writer, mentor and a teacher at heart. I am a native of Los Angeles and have been married to my life love for over twenty years. We have five children, one daughter and four sons. I graduated from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles and Southern University in Baton Rouge with a BA in Education. I spent several years as an elementary and preschool teacher and subsequent years working in the social services arena as a program administrator for government and non-profit agencies. I have also worked in youth and women’s ministry for many years.
I presently spend time writing full time and providing relationship guidance through workshops, inspirational novels and one-on-one mentoring to singles, women, couples and groups. Since embarking on my writing career in 2004, I have written a series of fiction novels and non-fiction books, which I have published through her company, Written Works Publications. All of my works are written from a Christian worldview, emphasizing faith, family, purity and love. For fun I like to write, watch movies with my kids (I just love a good story) and listen to music.
How do you find time to connect with God?
My time with God begins with my waking in the morning and ends just before drifting off to sleep at night. I try to remain God-conscience throughout the day. When I really need to touch heaven, I set aside everything else and turn God-ward. I gather my bible and a notebook then get to a quiet place where I turn on some worship music to create an atmosphere where He is welcome. I focus on Him in worship in anticipation of feeling His presence – hearing His voice. Most often than not, the Holy Spirit directs me to His word and unfolds the wisdom that I need.
Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?
One of my favorite books is “A Choice of Angeles” by Charles Sobczak. I also love the writings of Mary Smith Burnett, Bertice Berry and the musings Zora Neale Hurston.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
While pursuing a graduate degree in Organizational Management, I shared a book idea with friends on a whim. I was surprised to discover that my ability to spin a tale – that I had taken for granted for so long – was a powerful use of words that literally painted scenes in the mind of the readers. Encouraged by friends, family and classmates, I began pursuing the dream of becoming a writer. However it was my grandfather’s words spoken just days prior to his passing that proved to be the defining moment. ‘You can run, but you can’t hide. You have to use the gifts God gives you.’ This declaration prompted me to begin writing “Trinity’s Hope”, the story of the Carondolette Family that had been hidden in my heart some five years.
When I finished writing Trinity’s Hope, I was so fearful that no one else would want to read it. Sad to say, my self-confidence was suffering a bit. The process of actually writing (and completing) the book was so important to me, that I couldn’t face the idea of rejection. After all I’d been through, it had to get published. I carefully researched a number of publishers who I thought would accept my novel. However, after having my manuscript rejected by two of my top choices, my heart couldn’t take it so I began researching self-publishing.
I learned about Lulu from a friend and I was interested since the upfront cost is minimal. I randomly ordered a few books that they’d produced and was impressed with the look and the quality. It took several weeks of studying to get the formatting part right. There was a lot of trial and error, but I tackled the learning curve and produced a novel that I was proud to call my baby.
Tell us about your current book?
Trinity’s Hope is an uplifting, life-affirming story that depicts the journey of a young Christian woman as she transitions to adulthood to encounter the perils of dating. Trinity Hope Carondolette is the youngest child of a family of prominent professionals, including surgeons, musicians and ministers. Home schooled for most of her education, Trinity naturally excels academically and has traveled extensively on mission trips with the family. Yet at her tender age, she has yet to become comfortable in her own skin, much less handle the attention her beauty generates from males.
Once on a college campus and no longer under the shadow of her parent’s faith, Trinity struggles to learn the lessons of life and strives to come to terms with her own personal relationship with God. Committed to keeping her “virtues” intact, Trinity explores the wonder of a first love and grapples with balancing physical attraction and integrity in the midst of a college campus swarming with ravenous hounds and desperate females.
How did you come up with ideas for this book?
There were several reasons I felt this kind of story needed to be told. One involves the fact that I absolutely hate how Christian life is portrayed in the media and in print. So often we are portrayed as nuts and fanatics, when that is so far from reality. I wanted people to have a keen, accurate understanding of what Christian family life is really like. I grew up in a home that not only had standards and values, but was also loving, hopeful, supportive and nurturing. And such was the case with most of my friends and the world needs to understand this.
Secondly, being that I have five children, I’ve spent a lot of time working in a youth ministry. I’ve seen some of what kids go through and my heart aches for the ones that simply don’t have a clue about how to maintain a Christian lifestyle once they’re away from home. So I wrote “Trinity’s Hope” partly as a legacy for my own teen daughter as well as those I have taught, loved and mentored over the years. I want to speak to young Christian women who fight the battle of peer pressure and encourage them to stand strong in their faith. I want them to know that they can successfully negotiate a high school or college campus – walking in holiness and staying pure until marriage. With the true to life characters and practical wisdom found in Trinity’s Hope, readers are given examples of how this can be achieved in a manner that is not preachy or unrealistic. As a result, Trinity’s Hope has received an overwhelmingly positive response from mothers, teens and many others in the Christian community.
List your three most recent books.
- Trinity’s Hope
- A Reason to Love: Intimate Tales of the Marriage Bed
- Love Notes
My first novel, “Trinity’s Hope” focuses on themes of purity, abstinence and self-discovery. Yet many of my married readers loved the book, but wanted something a little more suitable for married couples. When asked if I could ever write something along those lines, I didn’t think I ever would. However, to my surprise, I followed the inspiration of the Lord and created “A Reason to Love: Intimate Tales of the Marriage Bed”.
“A Reason to Love: Intimate Tales of the Marriage Bed” is a book of fictional short stories that depict the intimate lives of married Christian couples. It is written to help couples reclaim the secret pleasures and power resident within the marriage bed relationship. It is explicit… It is intense… It is intended for married people only to help discover the real reason God created sex.
I have always loved poetry, yet never considered myself a poet. One day I realized that I had poems laying all over the place – scribbled in notebooks, journals, on the backs of envelopes and in the files of my computers. I discovered that I had the makings of another book. “Love Notes” is the result. This little book is filled with poems written especially for those who love being in love. Specifically for my husband’s type – who can never seem to find the words to say what he feels in his heart.
What’s next for you?
n addition to “Trinity’s Hope”, I am working on two subsequent novels expanding the stories of the Carondolette family – “Destiny’s Journey” and “Covering Grace”.
“Destiny’s Journey” tells the story of Trinity’s sister who became disillusioned waiting for God to send “Mr. Right” and settled for “Mr. Wrong”. Coming from a family with a strong Christian lifestyle, Destiny crosses the line and becomes intimate before marriage, embarrassing herself and straining family relationships – especially with her minister mother. This novel follows her journey from disappointment and shame to restoration and love.
“Covering Grace” is the third in the series and introduces Grace Carondolette, another of Trinity’s sister. Grace is a talents and anointed music minister who finds she is falling in love with a beautiful, intelligent, educated man who she discovers is teetering between Islam and Christianity, despite his profession of faith. “Covering Grace” explores her relationship with this man who has the potential turn her world upside down. “Covering Grace” gives new meaning to the way a man covers a woman – in faith, in love and in ministry.
I am also in the process of expanding a seminar for women entitled “ManFast”. A ManFast is the act of abstaining from being involved in romantic and/or sexual relationships, including casual dating for a spiritual purpose. Similar to the way a person fasts from food to focus more intently in God, a ManFast is designed to change the focus from seeking intimacy in an ungodly manner to seeking a closer relationship with God. Several years ago, the Lord laid on my heart that so many women who want positive loving relationships were going about it the wrong way and paying a costly price in return. Undertaking a ManFast is a way to rediscover their true purpose by consulting the Father God who is the architect of their lives and holds the blueprint for their future.
Where can visitors find you online?
The website for my publishing company Written Works Publishing is www.writtenworks.net. There you can read excerpts of my books, leave me a shout out and order books. To get more information about ManFast or to take the ManFast survey to see if you need a ManFast, visit www.manfest.net.