"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Interview with Tessa Emily Hall


There's something special about spending time at a coffee shop with a friend--engaging in a meaningful conversation, then leaving refueled and ready to tackle the rest of the day. What if your quiet times with God energized you the same way?

Coffee Shop Devos offers a warm atmosphere that will inspire you to discover your God-given purpose and live to your greatest potential. Choose your devo flavor in the Menu of Contents based on your current need. Then lean into deeper intimacy with Christ through reflection and prayer. Along the way, you'll pick up tips and recipes for making your own coffee-shop beverage--regular or decaf--to enjoy while you read. And don't forget to share your journey with your friends! #CoffeeShopDevos

Each of the 180 challenging and motivational devotions will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated--almost as though you've shared a steaming pot of brew at a coffee shop with your Creator.


1.      Teen girls today face a lot of challenges. What are some of the struggles they face?

The teen years present a unique set of challenges for girls. It’s a transition period when teens discover who they are, face life-changing decisions and temptations, and leave their childhood behind as they face their future. The Internet and social media have presented a whole new set of temptations and struggles.

Cyber bullying has become the norm. Instagram has made it even more challenging for teen girls to avoid the comparison trap. I believe there is one underlying factor behind most of the struggles teen girls face—and that is the longing they have for affection. Just like every human being, teens yearn to be understood and accepted, and sometimes they’ll go through great lengths in effort to attain this. Girls will often fall for the lie that their number of likes and followers on social media defines their worth.

In Coffee Shop Devos, I hope to bring light to the truth that this desire for acceptance and intimacy has been placed inside of each of us for a reason. Why? So we can discover that Christ is the only One who is big enough to fill this emptiness. Not only does He satisfy, but He walks with us in our struggles. This is why I categorized Coffee Shop Devos by the teen girls’ daily needs—so they can see that He meets them where they are and is the answer to their heart’s every longing.


2.      You write that friendship with Jesus meets our needs for acceptance. What verses or stories in the New Testament encourage you when you struggle with feeling loved or accepted?

When I find myself craving love or acceptance, it’s usually due to the fact that I’m looking at the world to meet these needs. I try to remind myself of the Scripture Galatians 1:10 (NLT), which states, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

If we work to earn man’s approval, we’re always going to fall short. It’s an impossible feat because we cannot please everyone, and no one can provide for us the immense amount of love that we crave.

If we hope to find perfect love from people, then we’re going to be left disappointed. This deep craving can only be filled by deep friendship with Christ. When we receive this, then we can view ourselves through His eyes—and realize that we no longer desire to earn man’s approval, because our confidence is rooted in our identity in Christ.


3.      You share a “dare” for the reader at the end of each devotional. What are some of your favorites?

One of my favorite dares come from the devotion titled “Trash Transformed”. This devotion speaks about how God can use trash of our life—our suffering and even our past mistakes—and transform them into beauty (based on Romans 8:28). For this dare, the reader is encouraged to do a DIY project that will allow them to transform a recyclable object, such as a water bottle, into a piece of art.

Another favorite is in the devotion titled “Too Dirty for a Shower”. In This devotion, I discuss how we sometimes neglect coming to Jesus in repentance because we believe we’re too “dirty” for His cleansing grace. If the reader finds it difficult to move on from past mistakes, I challenge them, in the dare, to throw their sins in the trash. Literally. They can do this by writing the sins on a piece of paper, blot them out with a permanent marker, tear them up, then throw them away. I hope this dare will help teens understand that Jesus has already blotted out their transgressions as well and He “remembers them no more” (see Isaiah 43:25).


4.      What advice can you give to teens about how to step away from busyness and take time to be quiet and hear God’s voice?

If we only understood how productive our time with Him is, then I believe we would never be tempted to skip out on it!

We make it a priority to spend time with our loved ones, don’t we? It’s how we get to know each other and grow in that relationship. Similarly, if we want to receive the depths of Christ’s love for us, experience to the fullness the life He has called us to live, and hear His voice, then we should make it a priority to strengthen our relationship with Him as well. It’s that simple and far too valuable to neglect.

If teens are struggling to make the time, then I’d advise that they analyze their daily schedules. Is there something they can cut back on--such as TV or social media time? Could they wake up fifteen minutes earlier than usual, or perhaps listen to the Bible on audio during their ride to school? Even the smallest amount of time spent with Him can make a big difference! As our relationship with God is strengthened, then we’ll begin to discern His voice and live the life He’s called us to live. But it’s only when we break away from the noise of the world, quiet down, and carve out a space to meet with God, that we will hear His whisper above the other noises vying for our attention.

5.      What is your hope for those who pick up Coffee Shop Devos?

My hope is that girls will come to know Jesus on a deeper level of friendship. The reason I categorized the devotions into the teen girls’ daily needs is so they can realize that Christ is the answer to our heart’s every longing. He is the One we’re searching for, and it’s only through this intimate relationship with Him that we will truly receive the peace, hope, joy, and love that we crave.

Just like how a good cup of coffee gives us the strength and energy for the day’s demands, our time with Jesus rejuvenates us spiritually and prepares us for the day ahead. So, I hope that, after girls read a daily devotion, they’ll be thirsty for more of Jesus and compelled to develop a daily habit of spending time with Him--an addiction that’s far more powerful than even their favorite daily Frappuccino drink from Starbucks. ;)

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to show teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, will release with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PURSUE Magazine. She's guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.

Links:
·         Pre-order Coffee Shop Devos on Amazon https://amzn.to/2Mkp6pT
·         Mark “to read” on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38502332-coffee-shop-devos
·         Author website www.tessaemilyhall.com
·         Twitter www.twitter.com/tessaemilyhall
·         Instagram www.instagram.com/tessaemilyhall
·         Facebook www.facebook.com/tessaemilyhall

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG: Publishing Path

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

SEPTEMBER QUESTION: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

MY ANSWER: I've used a combination of paths. I think most authors do now. I've enjoyed different approaches at different times, and I think this is necessary depending on the goal for each individual project. If you're confused about the options, and want to know more about how to choose the right direction for your own work, check out this helpful post by Jane Friedman: The Key Book Publishing Paths for 2018

What path(s) have you chosen? Best of luck on your own projects!