Apr 30, 2010

Friendly Friday - Melissa J. Cunningham

About Melissa - I'm a mother of five. I've always loved reading and I read voraciously. My favorite spot is in the bathtub. It was a few years ago when I dipped my foot in the river of writing but my computer crashed soon after that and I lost everything I'd done (which wasn't much). Two years ago, I met Josi Kilpack at our dance studio. A newspaper article about her newly released book interested me. Josi was just a normal mom like me. It was inspiring. It was two years ago almost exactly that I started writing seriously. I knew Elizabeth Mueller and we teamed up, helping each other. She taught me a lot more then I taught her though.

I have written 4 complete books and am almost done with the fifth. I have started a few more that aren't finished also. It was last Sept. that WiDo Publishing picked up my book, The Eye of Tanúb, which will be published in Feb or March of 2011.

What She Has To Say -

Once upon a time . . . a young girl had a dream. She wanted to be a storyteller. Yes, that would be me. In sixth grade I remember writing a short story and showing it to my teacher who raved about how great it was and then sent me on my way. The dream of being a writer was soon forgotten when I entered high school.

I was not super confident as a teen. I did not feel pretty. I wasn't good at sports. I wasn't academic. I wasn't popular. The only thing I was good at was music. I had taken piano lessons my whole life and loved to sing. I was actually decent at it. I went on to be a vocal/music therapy major. I loved it. I'd found my niche.

Then I got married, had kids and my music went nowhere. I still play the piano and I'm still a singer but the most I do with my talents is teach piano lessons and sing with the ward choir. After fifteen years of marriage, I wanted something more, something fulfilling that was mine alone. I know there are people out there who totally get what I'm saying.

I tried my hand at writing. I liked it, but I knew NOTHING! I had taken maybe one creative writing class sometime in the past but I didn't remember a thing I learned. I was so excited after writing my first book which I called, The Gate Keeper, that I gave it to Phillip, my book mobile man (who was a good friend) to have him critique. It was no holds barred. My story came back red from top to bottom.

I cried for a week, felt like a failure, and wanted to quit. I wasn't any good at this. It was too hard. I'd put too much time and energy into that book and look what happened. But there was something inside me refusing to admit defeat. It made me pick myself up, dust myself off and start again. My next book was The Guitar, an adult paranormal suspense story. It turned out better but I didn't give it to Phillip to critique. That was still too scary.

It was last year in March that I started The Eye of Tanúb. It took me one month to write from beginning to end. I'd never written like that before and I haven't since. It was like I was possessed. The words poured out of me. I spent the next year revising, revising, revising. I even gave it to Phillip to read. He liked it! Woo hoo! I'd arrived! Sort of.

My point here is this. NEVER GIVE UP! If I had quit after that first failure of a story I wouldn't be having a book published next year! Why should we keep pushing ourselves? Well, why not? What else are you going to do with your time? You might as well push yourself to keep growing, keep climbing. The rewards are astronomical.

Do you think you suck at whatever it is you want to do? You may. So what should you do? Give up? Yes. Give up. That will make you happy. No! Practice! No one becomes a virtuoso at the piano without YEARS of practice! YEARS! No one becomes a marathon runner without hours and hours of running to build that muscle and stamina. The same goes for anything you put your mind to. NO ONE becomes great without vast amounts of time and failures. We don't hear about those, but every successful person has a shelf full. You can't quit. You can't give up. Keep going until your fingers bleed.

It doesn't matter if it's writing, running, music, cooking, or any other talent you want to develop. Keep going. You'll make it if you don't stop. You CAN make your dreams come true. You have to because no one else will do it for you. No one.

Keep going and keep your confidence caps on. Even in gale force winds!

By the way, this pic is with Jeff Savage and James Dashner who are doing blurbs on the back of my soon to be published book. THAT'S why you can't quit! You're next!

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Thanks for being my guest today Melissa. I've enjoyed getting to know you better. And I totally agree with you. KEEP WRITING and DO NOT GIVE UP!!

My guest next week on Friendly Friday will be Trina Boice.


  1. Melissa is great--beyond that I love hearing people's stories. It's such a powerful reminder that we all have one and honestly, it's a better story when we've had some struggles. If it's an easy road it's not very intersting--kind of like a book :-)

  2. melissa's an awesome writer. She inspires me and I know she'll do great things for her publishing company (WiDo)!

  3. Awesome Post Melissa and Christine,

    Never give up is an important message for all of us!

  4. It's good to hear that you've reached your dreams, Melissa! Thanks for posting, Chris!

  5. Hi

    I've come over from Melissa's blog to read her guest blog piece here!

    What an inspiring story - I'm very glad to have "met" her in blogging world and this piece explains why - Melissa comes across as gutsy, determined, focused and passionate - and now she is about to see all her efforts realised with her publication of her book next year!


    Take care

  6. I absolutely adore Melissa! She is my spirit sister and we bonded from the first time we met. She inspires me and cheers me on. I couldn't be happier for her and her book coming out. She has worked her butt off literally. I hope to follow in her footsteps. ;)

    Thank you Christine for spotlighting such an amazing woman!

  7. I absolutely adore Melissa! She is my spirit sister and we bonded from the first time we met. She inspires me and cheers me on. I couldn't be happier for her and her book coming out. She has worked her butt off literally. I hope to follow in her footsteps. ;)

    Thank you Christine for spotlighting such an amazing woman!

  8. Wonderful story! I am happy to get to know you, Melissa. Congrats on your upcoming book. I think it's so cool that those two are doing blurbs for you. You're an inspiration.

  9. You guys are wonderful! It's because of all of you that I am where I am. Yes, I'm the one who has to make myself work etc... but it takes a village. It really does and you all are my village. You support me, encourage me, and when necessary, you call me out when I need to improve. THANK YOU!

  10. It takes more than one author to write a book - what a good way to look at it. :)