Morrisa Tuck’s next chapter is still being written! She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Auburn University Montgomery. Residing in Central Alabama, her greatest joy in life comes from her roles as wife to husband Jamison, and home-schooling mother to her three little kings.
Believer, Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend…striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman each day!
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed as well as this wonderful platform you offer to support Indie authors. English was always a favorite subject of mine, and some of my most impressionable moments throughout my academic pursuits, from as early as middle school, involved the fantastic teachers I’ve had through the years. It’s no surprise that most of those courses involved writing in some fashion. There wasn’t a great epiphany one day that pointed me in this direction. In many ways, writing has always felt like home to me. One of the things I most enjoy about being a writer is getting lost in the lives of the characters and worlds being created. I joke with my husband that these people live inside my head until I put pen to paper and get them out. It’s incredibly enjoyable. My natural comfort zone is “Introvert Boulevard”, so writing is also an outlet where I can freely communicate my thoughts and ideas without being exhausted by the process, which can happen quite often in daily conversation. Becoming an author has taught me to be more patient. Waiting can be quite frustrating at times, especially when you are enthusiastic about your work and feel that it has a place in the world. The editing process can be frustrating as well, but it is such a crucial piece of the puzzle. Frustration does not have to be the enemy. It can be revealed on the pages in an emotionally relevant way, if channeled properly.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I am an author of “faith-filled fiction”. My faith has been the anchor on the sunniest days and the stormiest nights of my life. It’s important for me, then, to be able to write characters and develop stories that are centered in faith. My prayer is that readers are encouraged and inspired by the words that I write, not done in a way that proselytizes, but instead one that gently uplifts and speaks to the heart of humanity. I’m a southern, biracial wife and mother, and the daughter of a pastor. These experiences in life and ministry have certainly influenced my literary voice.
To date I’ve published two novels, AND TROUBLES RISE (2021) and TIMES LIKE THESE (2020). Both of them feature strong female protagonists, but each journey is quite different. Reese Joseph (AND TROUBLES RISE) navigates reluctant dating, the relationship between her divorced parents, the loyalty of her closest friendships, and workplace discrimination. Reese’s life feels too full to consider a serious love interest, and the pain of her past nearly derails her bright future, but God has different plans for her life. As the troubled waters rise around Reese, she remains anchored in her faith. First Lady Rachel Parker (TIMES LIKE THESE) is sent into a tailspin when her husband is murdered and found in the home of his lover. The shockwaves from his unexpected demise reverberate in their home, church, and community. Rachel’s grief fuels her resolve to heal her family, help her church, and unearth the deeply buried secrets that have remained hidden for too long. Her faith journey requires picking up the pieces of her shattered heart and trusting God as he reveals his purpose for her life.
Readers can learn more about my life, my work, and upcoming projects on my website, www.morrisatuckwrites.com. My novels are available through my website, libraries throughout Central Alabama, indie bookstores such as For Heaven’s Sake Christian Bookstore (Alexander City, AL), Sweet Home Books (Wetumpka, AL), and on Amazon. Each book has its own discussion guide and they are ideal for book clubs, group readings, and faith discussions. One of my favorite ways to connect with readers is through virtual and in-person author chats. Readers can also visit my website to contact me directly and schedule an appearance.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I’m so excited to share that my third novel, PLAYING CHURCH, will be released this year. PLAYING CHURCH is a dual POV novel that continues the church politics and drama from TIMES LIKE THESE, but this time it is told from the view of its newest leadership team (Pastor Paul and First Lady Marianne Dexter). The inner workings of the church and finding balance within a marriage are two of the main issues within that novel. Laughter and tears, and laughing to get through the tears, will continue to be present as well. That project has been a major focus for me, and I am eager to share it with everyone. I also have another novel I am working on (TAN LINES), a deeply personal look at struggling with identity and a sense of belonging, told from the viewpoint of a biracial young woman forced to contend with the consequences of her parents’ choices. I have other novels, and a children’s project, in various stages of development as well.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Everyone measures success and achievement differently. For me, making an impact in the Body of Christ, drawing others closer to God, those are the most significant things that I can ever do as a writer. In 2021 I had an opportunity to attend a virtual book club where a participant shared that she was inspired to return to church and improve her prayer life after reading TIMES LIKE THESE. A publishing friend (TamikaInk) says that we have been placed here to “help make God famous”. I try to do just that, and that is my most significant achievement as a writer. As an indie author, I’m truly grateful that readers are embracing my work, but also libraries and Indie bookstores as well, which helps make it more accessible to readers.
In the next five years I envision having released at least two more projects, and I would love for one of my currently published works to be adapted in another medium, be it television or film. I believe the stories I write are relevant, timely, and relatable, and that they would translate well on screen. I’ll still be writing, prayerfully. As long as God gives me the inspiration and the ability, I will continue to use this gift to honor him.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
For the last twelve years I have been a professional grant writer, which I believe has given me great preparation for rejection as an author. Frankly, every grant you write will not be selected. But the risk is worth the reward of receiving funding, if your proposal is selected. I queried my first novel before making the leap to become an indie author. The responses from agents varied, but I tried to view it as a way to improve my craft, not as being detrimental to my goal of being published. I’m grateful for those experiences. I believe that they have helped make me a better, and more determined, author. Prayer makes the difference! Knowing that my worth is intrinsically valued through him, not any external acceptance or rejection; is the very best way to deal with rejection, in my opinion. Also, my support team is absolutely priceless. They may not all have been riding the roller coaster to publication with me, but they have cheered me on through every mountain high and valley low. I am grateful.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
Unlike the many other things that I schedule, I do not have a specific schedule for when I write. I am a wife and home-schooling mom of three boys, in addition to my work as a remote grant writer. Finding time to write creatively is not always easy, but I love it, so I find the time for it. Sometimes it means staying up after the kids have gone to bed, or waking up long before they do, to find the time to write. I keep a notebook with me at all times, and even if my husband is driving, I take those 30, 45, 60 minutes, to write. When inspiration strikes, I write. Every moment matters, and a few sentences or paragraphs here or there can turn into a scene, which later becomes a chapter, which finally becomes a book. I generally see the final scene, or the full ending of a novel, before I see the rest. Once A and Z are clear in my mind, God gives me B to Y slowly, over time. My outlines are almost like plays written in three acts, with different chapters serving the purpose of its corresponding act. TIMES LIKE THESE was planted as a seed several years ago, and it took quite a bit of time to fully develop it. The process it took to write AND TROUBLES RISE was shorter, in part because my understanding of the process had increased. As an Indie author, I am not on a particular timeline. It is a blessing to be able to determine when a book is ready, rather than having someone make those decisions for you.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
As long as there is breath in your body, it’s not too late. In our household we teach our boys to never stop learning and never stop dreaming. If a person dreams of becoming a writer, then by all means, WRITE! Publishing industry standards have changed, and even the self-publishing industry has been accepted in ways it wasn’t in the past. If God places a dream, a story, or a vision in your heart, it must find its way in the world. Each aspiring writer must determine how they view success. There are examples of “overnight successes” that actually took years of hard work. If you want to write, you must write. Take time to write. Continue to hone your craft. Seek wise counsel. Trust God and his timing for your life.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
I love to read! As a home-schooling mom, our home is filled with books and I hope to encourage and inspire a love for reading in my children as well. One of my earliest book loves is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It was a favorite from childhood that I’ve introduced my boys to, and the emotion, the message, and the timelessness of the story still resonates deeply today. I read a little bit of everything, but I have a soft spot for historical fiction. I’m also honored to be a “faith-writer”, and in the faith-based realm I love classic works by C.S.Lewis, the modern fiction of Michele Andrea Bowen and Tiffany L. Warren, and non-fiction written by Priscilla Shirer and Lysa Terkeurst. I’m currently reading Kingdom Woman by Dr. Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst, but my “to be read” pile is long and growing!
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
I definitely fall on the “focus on creative passions” side of the spectrum. I’ve published two novels since the start of the pandemic, and I don’t take that for granted. One nugget I’ve gained is that you have to take the time to do what’s important to you. Time is a precious commodity that is never replenished. Once your time is gone, it’s gone. That sentiment alone is reason enough to pursue your passions and purpose with the time you have been given. I’ve chosen to do just that. I think that the pandemic has given so many of us a new appreciation for what is truly important in life. I’ve always valued my faith, my family, and my friends. I value them even more now. Despite the magnitude of the tragedy, I love that the pandemic has inspired and birthed a new generation of creative minded individuals. The refining process produces pure gold, and this worldwide, cataclysmic, deeply dark period has ushered in many beautiful things. If we have been spared, then we should use the time we have been given to pour into others, to share our time, and our talents, and this beautiful gift we call life, with others.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
I’m so proud to be a self-published, independent author. I’ve never been a traditionally published author, but I’m sure there are strengths and weaknesses to any industry. Publishing is not immune to this. Representation matters, and it is certainly encouraging to see wider representation in an industry that has traditionally excluded too many literary voices for far too long. One of the beautiful things about being self-published is that there are no industry gatekeepers to dictate what you are capable of or required to produce. You are only limited by your imagination. There’s a common misconception that it is “easy” to self-publish your work, and that the quality of the work does not compare to traditionally published peers. I find that to be categorically untrue. There are many paths to publication, and I encourage other writers to pursue the path that is appropriate for them. I’ve found it to be deeply satisfying to be able to not only craft a compelling tale, but to also make design choices. While I worked with a professional designer (TamikaInk) on the cover of TIMES LIKE THESE (and I loved the final product, by the way), for AND TROUBLES RISE I wanted to challenge myself, therefore I ended up designing my own cover. I am so pleased with the end result, and I learned so much along the way. There may come a time when it makes more sense to become a hybrid author, but presently I am sincerely enjoying the process of being a self-published author. Creatively, it has been a very rewarding experience.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
Faith is at the heart of everything that I do. I think that it is evident in the words that I write. I also write from a place of purposed pain, from a place of brighter tomorrows, from a place of hope. I love that you feel it helps writers cope emotionally and mentally, and I agree wholeheartedly. Writing has brought me joy through difficult circumstances. It has helped me process pain and loss, especially the death of my father. It has also fed my creative soul. My hope is that readers see themselves in my characters, and that the people, themes, and issues feel real. The individuals that bring the stories to life should feel familiar to the audience. I want them to be able to picture them as neighbors, church members, colleagues, and friends. I also try to leave Easter eggs in all of my stories. My inner circle will recognize these things from my own background, experiences, and personality. I’ve been so blessed to not only be a deacon’s wife and pastor’s daughter, but to also have been raised by an incredibly strong woman. I come from a long line of formidable, resilient family members, both by blood and by marriage. All are anchored in their faith. This is precious and priceless to me. I believe that this adds tremendous authenticity to my work, and I hope that these things translate to my readers. Part of my purpose is to tell the stories and share the messages of hope God has given to me. I intend to continue to fulfill his purpose for my life by doing just that.