[Author Interview] Tif Marcelo

Tif believes in and writes about heart-eyes romance, the strength of families, and the endurance of friendship. A veteran Army Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration, she is a craft enthusiast, food-lover and the occasional half-marathon runner. As a military spouse, she has moved nine times, and this adventure shows in some of her free-spirited characters. Tif currently lives in the DC area with her own real life military hero and four children. The Journey to the Heart series is her debut series, with a forthcoming women’s fiction novel THE KEY TO HAPPILY EVERY AFTER to be released in April 2019.


What is your full name?

Tif Marcelo

When is your birthday?

September 5

How old are you?


Favorite food?


Favorite color?


Favorite flower?


Favorite place to read and/or write?

On my couch, next to my living room window that looks out to my backyard.

Favorite book?

Little Women


Who are you when you’re writing?

I am a woman with my head in the clouds!

Who are you when you’re not writing?

I am a woman with my feet planted firmly on the ground: a mother to 4, and married to my Army husband for over 20 years.

Which do you prefer more?

I love me both ways, and I cannot choose! 🙂

What drives you to write more?

To tell stories with characters who I feel need to be out in the world.

How often do you experience writer’s block and what do you do to get out of it?

I prefer not to call it writer’s block, but a writer’s hurdle. I imagine that the only way to the other side is to leap in or to scale the wall. So I do, with a little help of a few strategies like: clearing my brain with yoga or a run, fill my well by reading, or watching a movie, or talking it out with my close writer buddies.

Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your work?

Not in the way one thinks. I strive to put the best work out there, but I’m fully aware that seeking perfection in craft can be self-destructive. I am a perfectionist, however, when it comes to the protecting my writing time. I put in regular hours, schedule it into my daily calendar, and put myself in front of my computer. During the weekdays, I get up for #5amwritersclub and have done so for about five years (officially on the hashtag though longer than that on my own). I have written and edited a lot of words during the early morning hours.

Do you like making outlines when you write, or do you prefer to start from scratch and work your way from there?

I used to outline scenes, but have decided that I prefer to create a synopsis. This gives me enough creative room to pants it a little. Invariably, however, my characters try to hijack the plot.

If you could do both at the same speed, which would you prefer: Writing on paper or typing your words? Why?

Typing! My handwriting is atrocious when it’s stream of consciousness, which is what my drafting process is like. I wouldn’t be able to decipher it. I do want to learn to dictate—I notice my wrists get such a beating when I draft.

What is the best writing advice that you could share with us?

Only you can write your book—no one else. So write it.

Of all the things that you’ve ever written (poems, essays, short stories, novels, etc.), which one is the most special to you?

I wrote a one-act play in high school about teen suicide from the point of view of the best friend who was left behind. I had wanted to become a writer before I wrote that one-act play, but after it was read aloud in my English class, and I heard my words and saw how it affected my classmates, it became my passion.


What inspired the idea of your first book, North to You?

North to You (and the Journey to the Heart series) is everything I love in one book (or series): food, military, Filipino families. This first book, especially, is a homage to my mother, who was a restaurateur in the Philippines. I was underfoot when she started up these businesses, and I remembered her passion for food and sharing it with others.

What message would you like your readers to learn from that book?

That love can transcend time, distance, and struggle.

What inspired the idea of your latest book, The Key to Happily Ever After?

I’m so excited for The Key to Happily Ever After. I’ve wanted to write a sister story for a very long time, and to couch it in a wedding environment—I had 2 weddings, a civil ceremony and a Catholic one—is such a fun bedrock for shenanigans and romance.

What message would you like your readers to learn from that book?

That you hold the key to your Happily Ever After.

Did your personal background (as a Fil-Am veteran Army Nurse) influence your books in any way? Can you tell us about it?

Absolutely, in every way. I approach all of my books in this lens. Born in the Philippines but raised in the United States, I hope to write characters with a little bit of nuance embedded in fun and romantic situations. All of my books have someone affiliated in the military—I am proud to have been a soldier, and now a military spouse. It is engrained in my identity, and in my children’s identities. Finally, as a nurse, I hope I treat my characters with empathy and compassion.

What is the greatest challenge that you have encountered in the publishing world and how did you overcome it?

In general, one of the greatest challenges is balancing writing the next book while finding readers for one’s current books. Writing the next book is the single most important thing an author can do! However, I do want to connect with my readers/make new acquaintances and friends in this author journey. Unfortunately, time is always of the essence.

Thank you so much for participating in my blog event, Ms. Tif! Looking forward to reading your books soon! ❤

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