July 28, 2021

Embracing Pleasure with Melonie Johnson

Embracing Pleasure with Melonie Johnson

Sex on a horse? Sex on a horse!


USA Today best-selling author Melonie Johnson, aka #thewritinglush, is this week’s guest! We talk about writing taboo topics, what it’s like to narrate your own books, and the impracticalities of having sex on a horse (or in a Papasan chair). Get your ears ready. This is a fun one! 

 

Find Melonie on the internet on

Website: https://meloniejohnson.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18305208.Melonie_Johnson 

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melonie-johnson 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelonieWrites 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelonieJohnson 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meloniejohnson/ 

And on Instagram as The Writing Lush: https://www.instagram.com/thewritinglush/

And don't forget to grab a copy of her latest book, Too Good To Be Real

Transcript

Steam Scenes: Embracing Pleasure with Melonie Johnson

Transcript

Elle
USA Today best-selling author Melonie Johnson also known as #thewritinglush joins us on Steam Scenes today. Melonie enjoys sipping cocktails that start with the letter M. Margarita. I can't even think of any others.

Melonie
Manhattan, mojito...

Elle
Oh, thank you. Okay. I just drew a blank. I was like Margarita. Margarita's all around. Okay. She was declared a writer to watch by Kirkus Reviews and a fizzy, engrossing voice by Entertainment Weekly. Her smart, funny contemporary romances include too good to be real. And her award winning debut series sometimes in love a former high school English and theater teacher, she now spends her days in her Star Wars office dreaming up meet cutes. She lives in Chicago land with her husband, their two redheaded daughters and one very large dog. Melonie, thank you so much for being here. Welcome.

Melonie
Hi, thanks for having me. This is gonna be fun.

Elle
Yeah, I'm excited. So you know, I always I'm sort of it's sort of like catches my eye when it says theater teacher. my background is actually theater. I've had a few interviews now with writers who started somehow in theater. And I think that that's really kind of cool. And I'm wondering, what is it about theatre that drew us all to Novel Writing and romance in particular?

Melonie
Oh, stories, characters. And it's funny, because I'm actually doing a author panel on May 7, called from the stage to the from the Yes, from the stage to the page. So it's all authors who have a background in performing arts.

Elle
Oh, my gosh, I had no idea about that. When, where, what, how.

Melonie
So it's a virtual event through the romance bookstore loves sweet arrow, and it is Friday, May 7, at 7pm. So this will probably be already over by the time this podcast airs. Yeah, you can go, you can go back and watch it on the love sweet arrow YouTube channel. All of those events are there to watch anytime.

Elle
Oh, that's super cool. I love that idea, too. That's really great. I'm gonna hop on and watch that myself, because I'm very curious. So how did you make that transition? When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Melonie
So I was a double major in college, I was a theater, an English major, I love theater. And it was actually it's funny because that theater degree, I think, was a lot of people kind of joke about a theater degree is like useless as a career. Now that actually is what really kind of was the icing on the cake. For me, it is what made me much more hireable coming right out of college, high schools were able to get like kind of two for one with me. They got the high school, English and theater teacher, so I could do both. And so I was doing that. And then when I started a family, I kind of rolled things back and was not and chose not to keep teaching, but I kept directing theater for several years. And then when I had a second kid, I had a roll that back again, but instead of not doing anything, I decided to open my own Children's Theatre Company.

Elle
Oh my God, that's super fun.

Melonie
Yeah, it was it was it was a lot of fun.

Elle
And this is Chicago. This is in Chicago. Chicago is a big theater town. Yes.

Melonie
So this is I live in the in the suburbs. So I first started by working for a very big theatre company called Lake Forest Children's Theatre Company. So I was working for them first. And then I decided to create a smaller, less expensive, more local to where I was company. And it was fun it was but that I spent a lot of time writing my own scripts, creating my own original material. And really enjoyed that aspect of it and the writing aspect of because it's all dialogue when you're running a script. And, you know, I kind of started playing around with writing, it was actually through my mom's group, like where we bring the babies together to play and we'd hang out and talk. It was through my mom's group that I decided to try nano NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month and that was when I wrote what would become a paranormal romance was my first finished book. That kind of got me into being interested in in everything else and it's it's kind of a convoluted way to how I found romance. I've always loved reading romance. I'm huge romance fan of since I was too young to be reading.

I was I was like eight or nine and really fell in love with it much my local librarian's dismay, she gave me all kinds of stink eye when I would come up with stacks of Joanna Lindsay and Catherine Coulter. So yeah, so that I just kind of I found a local romance writing chapter. Chicago, North rRomance Writers of America and all the pieces kind of fell into place.

Elle
Well, I wanted to sort of jump back a little bit and sort of go okay paranormal romance because do you write contemporary?

Melonie
I did.

Elle
What was like What was that? Okay, why did you okay so what drew you to paranormal for your first your very first book?

Melonie
So everything kind of is like that first spark of an idea and the first book that I wrote the spark of an idea was this man and woman sitting on a couch having a conversation about the possibility of the existence of ghosts he firmly was in the yes they exist actually this is what I do for a living position and she was in the you're full of it you know even though she couldn't she can see ghosts and she has had a like a like a you know invisible friend so to speak since she was a child which was actually a ghost it just it was just the idea that came to me so I wrote the story and I had a lot of interest it actually placed first in some contests and then it just kind of paranormal wasn't you know when you start talking to agents and they're very excited about your work but then not not this not it was like not the time the paranormal ever was it was by are trying to look at what is what can I who can I sell this to what can I do so again, just with whatever idea came to me, I ended up this this this girl is in a castle and she stumbles across a man hidden in the wall he's wearing a kilt she thinks she's walked into an episode of Outlander. And so I'm like I thinking I'm reading another paranormal. But no, it was it was an that is another paranormal and she's being punked. And that became Getting Out with the Scott my debut novel.

Elle
That is fun that Okay, why was he hiding in the

Melonie
So he runs a YouTube show that is similar to Ashton Kutcher is Punked. He plays these little, little games, little, you know, little preying on various on celebrities and whatnot. And this happens to be an idea. They were looking to kind of go viral, get some more attention, and it's his sister who's like, we're putting you in a kilt, and we're sticky you in the wall. And believe me, people are going to love it.

Elle
It's not wrong. So this was your second book that got picked up for publication? Is that correct?

Yeah, I never actually went on like actual submission with the first book, it was just like, you go to conferences, and you talk to agents and they ask you, you pitch it, you pitch your story. And so I was pitching the paranormal. And I think I pitched to one or two agents. And I got lots of this is great. I love the writing. I just don't think I can sell this. What else do you have? So that was kind of like, okay, so after like, the whole like sad trombone. And I know that's ridiculous. Because I hear that people talk about, you know, stories of, you know, 30,40, 50, 60 rejections and keep going. And after two I was like, this is the end. But I did take that, you know, suggestion to heart and think about like, well, what else would I like to write and not purposely picking contemporary, that's just the story that came next that popped into my head next, and that, you know, that was that I was very lucky that everything happened pretty quickly after that, from that book, finaling, in the Golden Heart contest, that is no more to getting my agent to landing the three book deal where they decided to release three books in the course of three months.

How long did you have to write them?

Melonie
So that was St. Martin's Press and my editor when we had the you know, the acquisition phone call and you talked about this book one was done but needed some significant edits because it was my first you know, full book. That was it. So I had to go from writing that first book to writing the other two while editing the all three of them.

Elle
That's hell, editing and writing at the same time, it really is.

Melonie
It was. It was like diving into the deep end of the publication process. Like there was no like learning to swim. It was like, just get in the pool.

Elle
Here we go!

Melonie
Yeah, so all three books. It was an April, May, June of 2019. They released back to back to back. Yeah.

Elle
Wow. That's pretty wild. That must have been a wild time around the release to like, what was that like for you?

Melonie
It was it was kind of bonkers. It's kind of it was because I didn't I didn't know what to compare it to. So it was just I talked about it like my year of spinning plates. You know how you see the thing of all those sticks with the plates on stands, you just keep keep them spinning, just kept spinning kept going from, you know, marketing to promo to writing articles to for blogs to doing proofreads to working on developmental edits for the next book. And then on top of it, I narrated all three of those books. So I was also in the recording studio at various points to get those done as well. So it was it was a wild time. And there's, of course, you know, you look back and I have regrets because definitely with the third book, I think it could have benefited from a little bit more time to cook, okay, so to speak. Those are some things I really wanted to get in there that I didn't or that I wanted to finesse a little better that I didn't. But you know, that phrase, it is what it is.

Elle
Yeah. And I mean, there's, you know, if you wait for things to be perfect, they just never get done.

Melonie
Right. Well, that is true, too. You know, and that was that was kind of what held me back a little bit with the paranormal, you know, that like getting it perfect. And so just switching to something else, I think helped me kind of let go of what what about this isn't working, that it's not landing, or whatever. And it's still I mean, I plan to go back to that book eventually.

Elle
Really? The paranormal? I'm sorry that the paranormal.

Melonie
Oh, yeah. The paranormal. Well, I mean, I think every author kind of struggles with this idea of fixing things that are out that are already out like taking it, but I don't think I will. It's better to I think it's better to focus on putting out something new than to try and make something Oh, yeah, yeah, that's already out there. Like something you haven't published yet. You know, do whatever you want with.

Elle
I actually rewrote, um, my first book in my rock star series, because it was out with a small ebook publisher, and I just wasn't happy with the editing.

Melonie
And oh, that makes sense.

Elle
So when the rights came back to me, I was just like, I'm overhauling this. And I'm turning it into the series I always imagined. So you know, so I think you know, in that case, it kind of made sense, because it was a significant overhaul.

Melonie
Oh, sure. And like, Did you all the things and that's what you like you said that it was with another publisher. So there were things that were outside your control, and being able to do it the way you as long as we don't turn into like George Lucas. And now we're going to add these giant dragon lizards.

Elle
Because I can stop tinkering man. So, okay, so the paranormal romance because that was the very first one was that? Did you just like jump right into writing steamy scenes for that? Or were you a little bit more cautious with?

Melonie
Oh, no, no, no, that book has plenty of steam in it.

Elle
So you didn't sort of tiptoe into the water into the steamy these books?

Melonie
Remember during the library? I was eight. I was all about it. Now. There are definitely Yeah, some steamy scenes.

Elle
I want to jump back for a second then. And we'll jump back to the steamy scenes in the paranormal but because you're picking up these steamy books when you were so young, what was it that drew you to them?

Melonie
So I read a lot of historical. I really loved In fact, I think only I only read historical for a long time. And it was I think so I did a I have a series on my Instagram, where it's called the summer of Sunfire. And there was a series of young adult romances back in the 80s. Because I'm that old. Generation X. GexX.

Elle
Nohting but love.

Melonie
They're called Sunfire. And they were historical why a romances all the covers had the girl. And then there was like two love interests, like always, always a love triangle. So the two boys would be like on either side of her in the covers. And they were set in various historical periods of history in American history. And so I loved those books. And I think that was kind of, you know, my gateway to the other historicals I just really I just really enjoyed all of you know, the various ideas of living in another time and of course being you romanticize it and you know, it's because it's just so different from your own experience. So I just loved it. And I really love the TV show The Young Writers, which was the Pony Express writers.

Elle
I don't remember that

Melonie
Josh Brolin was in it and a couple other hot young men,

Elle
Okay, I'm gonna have to look that up The Young Riders,

Melonie
The Young Riders, that was the early 90s, very early 90s was that TV shows, but I read a lot of wild west books, also like wild west romances, which looking back now were incredibly problematic, but you know, when I'm 10, 11, 12 I'm not thinking about any of that. I'm just like, sex on a horse is that possible?

Elle
Probably not but anyway.

Melonie
You can thank Joanna Lindsey for that.

Elle
So, so So now back to the paranormal with your very first sex scene. What was that like for you to write it? Were you? Were you nervous about it? Or did you just like everything else? dive right in? And you're like, I got this because we don't write explicit in theater?

Melonie
No, not the theatre, I've done anyway.

Elle
Especially not Children's Theatre. Yeah.

Melonie
I've seen a few shows in Chicago.... Um, I didn't really think about it, I just did it. Like it's, I'm, I'm a very character driven writer. So everything that I write, it really comes from what the characters are doing and if they're doing it then it's on the page. Like literally doing it. I really didn't think too much about it. You know, wasn't, it wasn't, it's not really necessarily. I know, a lot of authors will talk about it being awkward, and I don't really feel like writing it. I don't feel it's awkward to write. It's just, I don't I guess I don't think about like, a lot of people think about their parents reading this. And I don't think about that. I think more about my kids. Told, I told my daughter, you cannot read this book. When I when I got the publishing contract. I said you cannot read this until you turn 16. And then my book came out. So she was born in April of 2003. My first book came out in April of 2019. So do the math. She read parts of it. And then it's just her it's you know, it's your mom. And I've always been very, I think part of it was because of all those dirty looks from library. And when I was a kid, I've always been very open with her about read whatever you want. You know, whatever you want to read, go for it. There's no shame.

Elle
Yeah, I've never censored but we are my kid is about. They're about the same age. And I've never censored I mean, she was like three and we were like watching Lord of the Rings. And she's like, yeah, you know, I mean, we've always tended towards more violence in our movies. Well, that's,

Melonie
Well, that's actually something that I've always kind of found annoying. It's like, especially in America, like, you know, everyone is so prudish when it comes to sex on the screen. But all of violence. Yeah,

Elle
yeah. Everybody is okay with violence. But the sex everybody gets a little you know, a little nervous. They get really freaked out about it.

Melonie
I would be much I would prefer to see more sex and less violence. Yes, that's just me. Yes. Yes. So So yeah, so no problems, no problems writing. It's just my you know, my thing is sometimes, especially that first book, I think I might have gone a little overboard with the sexy time. So to making sure that it fits the story that they're, you know, there to move the story forward to develop, you know, there's has to be some reason for it to be on the page, besides just having fun.

Elle
Yeah, you know, it's funny that that sort of, I always feel bad because I feel like I don't put enough of the steamy bits in my books. But, you know, like, I'm always like, Oh, I think there are only three sex scenes. And maybe there should be more. And my last book came back from a copy editor. And she's like, I love reading your sex scenes. And there were so many in this book, so keep writing them. But it's, you know, and so I'm like, oh, maybe I should be putting more in these books. But at the same time, I'm like, it doesn't really serve the story to have more sex scenes.

Melonie
Yeah it depends on the story. So for my first book, it was funny because it was my agent who was actually not very editorial. She's pretty hands off. I like getting her critiques back because they're very much almost like a critique from a reader versus an editor. That's helpful. Yeah, but hurt but with the first one, she's like, you need one more they need they need one more any one of my sex scene.

Elle
I'm like, how did you determine that though?

Melonie
I think I, you know, she felt really felt that they needed like one more on the page. I was like, okay, so very hot sex in the shower scene occurred at the, near the end of the book, but that was that was interesting, cuz that was like one of the only times where I was like, Alright, I have to plug an extra one in for this new book that's coming out this summer too good to be real. It's more straight up romantic comedy. And it was definitely less sex on the page. There's only one full full on scene. There's a couple other smaller scenes with other stuff happening, but like only one like, really. And that was because from before, like you said three, I think I have like three or four. I haven't actually ever gone and counted. So it was the least amount of sex on the page in a story but it fit this book. It fit the way this book works. And the next romantic comedy that I'm writing the follow up to this book. It's the same there's really only one full scene on the page and it's not on purpose. It didn't plot it that way. I didn't say this only will happen once. It just fits the story that that's how it worked.

Elle
So do you enjoy writing them?

I do. I will own it. Yeah, I think it's fun. I've had a lot of fun with this current book that I'm working on. It's called to Rog to be right, because these are two characters that it is. I use the expression comedy of errors with you earlier when we were dealing with some stuff. But these two characters are a comedy of errors every time they get into any kind of physical moment, something ridiculous goes wrong. So I've had so much fun.

Oh, that sounds like so much fun.

Melonie
I mean, well, I mean, it's a proud like I would sex in a papasan chair? Probably a bad idea. Yeah. So we have we have some, we have some, you know, it's a romantic comedy. So things going so things being silly is, you know, and I think I think set I think funny in sex is good, like silly things happening. Being able to laugh. I think that's incredibly sexy.

Elle
I absolutely agree. I absolutely agree. So I know that, um, this is going to be a little bit of a divergence, because we might get a little serious. But um, you were featured in a Guardian article that was talking about? I think it was, I'm trying to what was it? This was back in 2019, when there was some new laws that were coming out, right. There's a lot of aches and concern about rights over women's bodies, right. And it was sort of talking about why why don't more romance writers write in terminated pregnancies for their main characters. And you had a character in your book that had terminated a pregnancy? Obviously, not with the hero. I guess this happened before they met, correct?

Melonie
No, actually. So I really went all the way. Like, okay, yeah. So I don't there is this major taboo, and I think that was in the name of the Guardian article was about it being a romance taboo, like this is just not done. And that's just not the real world. And that's not the that I mean, and everyone. Everyone has their own beliefs, everyone has to do what's right for them. But I really feel like what's right for that person. And it was frustrating for me to read romance novels that would deal with pregnancies. And, you know, I, you know, content warning, if this is something that is difficult to listen to, we'll be talking about, you know, losing a pregnancy. So you know, that they would handle it in such a way where for the plot for the characters, to have this heroine be pregnant was just not going to work. But they would take care of it in some very easy, like, I won't say easy, but like nice, neat and tidy way that that somehow the baby was lost. And the heroine never had to make it actual decision regarding what she was going to do about this pregnancy. And I was frustrated by that, because I feel like it swept all of that conflict under the rug, and ignored it. And you know, these choices and how they affect your life. So I again, I don't do these things on purpose. And when I was writing, it's the third book in the sometimes in love series, once upon a bad boy. And it's a second chance romance. So these are two people who were together when they were kids, they grew up. She's very, she's very rich. And she and her family owns this horse farm. And his family is the family that lives on the farm and kind of runs everything, the horses and whatnot, so, so they have kind of this, you know, secret relationship with their children all the way through their teenage years. And then things go sideways, right around the time that she graduated high school. But yeah, so there was there was a pregnancy in there. And, you know, you got to read the book to find out all the reasons. Behind all of that he did not know. So there is there are a lot of but there's also reasons for that. So, you know, these were choices that she made. And yeah, so that book had not was not out yet. It was coming out. And, um, you know, there's like, why doesn't this exist? I'm like, Well, actually, I, I wrote it because I was kind of frustrated that it didn't exist, and that so when so here's what happened. So when that storyline kind of came into my head, like when I was writing the book, and this was revealed, like to my brain, I was like, oh, like, this is not done. You don't write this. And so I actually emailed my editor, and I told her, my heroine had terminated a pregnancy. You know, as a teenager, can are we are we good? Are you good with me, including this and it's the heroes, the heroes, he was the heroes baby. And she was like, Yeah, 100 she was 100% behind me there was not even a hesitation about it. And so that was I was very grateful to have that support. Because honestly, I'm not sure being because I'm still talking about newbie author my first book not yet because they're all coming out together. If she had pushed back, I don't know. I don't know how strong I would have been. You know, because you second guess yourself so much to begin with. If your editor is saying no, no, no.

Elle
It's a tricky, I mean, it's a tricky tightrope, right? Because on the one hand, you know, we writers, you know, we're people, you know, we have our own beliefs. And we have our own belief systems and our own, I guess, you know, values. But we, you know, I recognize not everybody's values are my values, and I don't, so I never want to insert anything, but at the same time, I think that, you know, it does do a disservice to the genre to not be or not show more realistic situations. And I think, you know, and romance as a genre has always been, frankly, uniquely feminist.

Melonie
Oh, right. And there's Yeah, and that whole sense, like, like I and I definitely had readers who were very upset, very angry over that and plot point, and I'm sure I lost some readers. But I wasn't doing i'm not i wasn't like getting on a soapbox. It was more of an like you said, like, if I had to change from being this is just not done to being like, this is something that exists. And I'm not the only author that did it. There are plenty of others who have done it. But it but it's it was definitely still something that's kind of whispered about and not talked about, and definitely not something that your heroine has had happen. So it's not that like every single romance has to have this or that, that this is the only way to tell the story, but that it should be allowed to be an option in your story.

Elle
Yeah, I mean, and I think honestly, I think it's really brave that you did it. I don't know that I would. I've just, you know, as much as you know, as much as I believe, I believe in it. I don't know that I would have the guts to

Melonie
I mean, that was the thing is like, so that was the part that I was when I sent my editor. The note. Yeah, I was definitely concerned. But the fact that I had her support on the publisher support that really helped me so yeah

Elle
It almost feels like the last big taboo, you know, I I in a way because it's, I do another podcast with just for fun with my one of my best friends and it's all about Melrose Place. And we'll talk about Gen X, right.

Melonie
I missed that one. I think I was drowning in like too many hours of college.

Elle
So So I so going back and rewatching this this sort of like really seminal soap of the 90s nighttime soap is really interesting, but I had forgotten how many pregnancy storylines there were and for every pregnancy storyline, the the character always like either births the baby or lost the baby to miscarriage. I think there was one time there was a conversation about do we terminate? Do we not terminate? But it was never followed through?

Melonie
Yeah, that's so frustrating. So the Jane The Virgin, I think did a good job with this with the, you know, because they had both sides. They had Jane who had this bizarre, wild, you know, Immaculate Conception so to speak, who did decide that she wanted to keep the baby to despite the circumstances, and then her mom who had a accidental pregnancy? Who was like, No, this is completely wrong for my life for where I am at in my life. And it was just this that was what happened. So like the bits that they showed that in such a, like, this is an issue of women's health, like this is an issue of a woman's choice and kind of didn't make it any bigger or more difficult than that.

Elle
Right? Right. And the and I also think that it's important to show these are not bad people.

Melonie
In once upon a bad boy, the heroines name she's saidI Her name is sad. I mean, she she struggles with it, like she is not like a has I've done this, you know, it was definitely a difficult choice and a choice that she carries feelings for but not regrets. Right.

Elle
Right. So anyway, I just wanted to touch on that. Because I thought that it was really interesting that you that you did that and and you know that article was absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend everybody, everybody take a look at it. But I Now I do want to talk about something a little bit more fun, which is the fact that you narrate your own audiobooks.

Melonie
So yes, I do. I did narrate the sometimes in love series. It was so I started narrating audiobooks by accident. It was one of those things where I was at a conference and speaking of steamy scenes, we had something we called hot night, which was where authors could bring a steamy scene to a group and we would all kind of sit around and read them out loud and critique them. Okay. And a lot of people are very nervous about not, you know, not only writing sex scenes, but very nervous about reading sex scenes out loud to a group of people. So me being me, I'm like, no Why nervous about reading their scene out loud? I'll read it for you. I have no problem with it. So I was reading, several people took me up on the offer. So I was reading a couple other people sex scenes out loud for them at this group meeting. And then afterwards, a couple people came up to me and they're like, you're really good at that. Okay, like you should you should do this. I'm like, are you talking like, what? phone sex like, what exactly are we talking about here? And they said, No, you should try reading doing audio books. So I was like, Huh, huh? You know, I had a theater background. So I got a microphone, and I recorded a sample of a friend's book and put it up on AC x the auto Yeah, audio creation exchange. Yeah, I put it up on there and kind of forgot about it. Like this was when I was still drafting, you know, a book I was I still I was actually writing hot Scott at the time. And then I think it was almost a year later that I got an email asking from an author asking if they could hire me and I hit her, like, wow, I completely forgotten that sample was sitting up. But yeah, she said, I love your voice. And I would love for you to to do my book for me. And then she actually hired me for three or four other projects after that. And what happens on a CX is when you put when something goes up, a becomes like the first thing on the on the there's like a place where authors can go to higher higher producers or narrators. So when you put a sample epic, it's the first thing that pops up, and then it slowly goes to the no goes to the bottom of the list. But so when I, every time I uploaded, one of the books that I recorded for her, I put up a sample, which would then put my sample at the top of the page at the time. And then I started getting hired, it was very organic. So I was and then other authors would find me and so I and I had to kind of do one project at a time because I was writing, I was, you know, a mom, I was trying to find the quiet time in my house to record. So I kind of had, I think I had five or six books under my belt when I signed my own contract for, for my, my sometimes in love series. And what my agent did was I really wanted to keep the audio rights, I had very clear ideas of what I wanted for my audio books. I want to do narration I want to you know, it's all these ideas. But Macmillan was part of there is like audio, they get audio rights, or they just don't sign the contract period. Okay. So I could not get my audio rights. But what they did do or my agent was able to get them to do was to agree to give me some kind of input, some awesome some artistic input, and to also have the option to narrate the books if I chose like, or to be considered for narration not to get them but to be considered for narration, if that was something I wanted to do. So when the time came for the audio books to be produced, the engineer, the producer from McMillan sent me an email and he's like, Well, are you interested? I'm like, I'm not sure. Like, this is a lot. I like how about I send you some samples? And you tell me what you think. So I recorded some samples from the books, and I sent them over to him. And he's like, yeah, I think I think definitely and it was kind of cool was I was able to get paid from Macmillan for narrating my own books separately from my author

Elle
I'm fine reading other people's snippets of their scenes, but I, I get it. Like I don't wanna I have an audio book, I need to listen to to listen for errors. And I am dragging my feet because I don't like listening to my words.

Melonie
So, like you said, very easy to narrate someone else's work. It was a much different situation to narrate my own work. It was it was not what I have. Yeah. And when I was narrating when I was narrating for other people, I have my own little mini home studio. It's nothing fancy, but it's here in my house and I do everything myself. For this. They hired us a producer who is local to me, and I went to his studio. So it was me in the little sound booth and just this guy actually and he's, he's more he does he did he does a ton of work for a pretty well known historical author. But he's mostly a sound guy like music rock bands and stuff like he had like these other like there was like two other studios that were there that had like all these guitars and drums in it. So that so audiobooks isn't really his main thing. So wasn't like like, it wasn't something that he was 100% used to do really like I can't look at him while I'm doing this, especially in the room and then there's this like the the glass screen or whatever it is and he's out there side with all his sound boards, and definitely no eye contact being made. And it was like I didn't think I didn't think I was gonna be nervous about and for the most part I wasn't. But at the same time, it's like, it's not just that I'm reading the sex scenes out loud is that I'm reading sex scenes that he knows that I wrote.

Elle
Yeah. And you have to I mean, you have to act, you have to put some sort of like you, you're not reading them dryly. Like you're

Melonie
I'm not like having an orgasm in the booth. But I'm definitely gonna add a little bit of the third book once upon a bad boy. And it was funny because then it because Gary revisiting these books after having written them by reading them out loud. There this book, I call it the sex sandwich, because there is like, the middle of this book is these, the two of them reconnecting because the second chance, and there's a lot of time. A lot of time having sex. That was the that was the book where I was kind of like, okay, like, I was getting embarrassed. Because though there's that one is a little steamier as far as they're a little more adventurous, and the other two points. And one point, he excused himself, and I was like, Oh, my God. And I'm like, it can't be I'm not gonna think about it.

Wait, no, we were both completely professional. We're all a professional. And even, even, like, you know, like, we're at least acknowledging like, Okay, this isn't 100% awkward, but we are professionals. It was the Yeah, it was it was an experience for this next, the next books, I did not want to narrate I wanted something different. And for the romantic comedies that are coming out, and luckily, they did, I did get dual narration this time. So it is the because the book is broken down into male and female POV, the hero and heroine, and it is a male narrator and a female narrator.

Elle
So that's super fun.

Melonie
Yeah, I'm excited. I'm excited to hear it. But I will probably be a nervous wreck listening to someone else read my words. I'm sure. That's not how you're supposed to say it. That's really how I set it in my head. Exactly. That was so when they offered when Macmillan said yeah, we think you should do your own books. It was like, I was too much of an opportunity to turn down. Like, if whatever mistakes were made, whatever, you know, things didn't go right, that's on me. But at least I got the opportunity to do that. And you know, if I decide to continue this series on my own, I can go ahead and narrate those books on my own because I started it. Yeah, so I'm excited to I'm excited and nervous to hear the the audio for the next book. And it's also like, but that's what happens once you finish with a book, you release it into the world. It becomes you know, it's not your book anymore, as they say. So it will be interesting to hear someone else's take on my words.

Elle
So, so to go back to the actual writing. Oh, that's fascinating. I can't believe you. You. Really, I mean, I know so many nonfiction editors, not writers, not editors, writers to their own. I know I've actually don't. You're the first fiction editor that I've heard of that.

Melonie
Well, it was so my agent had not when I talked to her about it like this is what we're thinking of doing. And she was very gracious because what Macmillan paid me for the audio book work. She didn't you know, demand a cut of she was that was completely cool. She understood it was something I was doing separately as an artist. But I asked her first, you know, like, you know, are we good with this? She's like, I've never had, she had never had a situation like that. But there were other issues. So this is the night agency, and she had had other agents in the agency, do it. So she went actually talked to them to kind of get their take and how it worked and what to watch for. So she came back at least armed with some advice and information. And yeah, she's like, go for it. Like okay.

Elle
Okay, so I'm curious. Well, first of all, I'm very curious. Are you a pantser? Or a plotter?

Melonie
Oh, my goodness. I'm a pantser. Much to my detriment lately. Yeah.

Elle
So do you do you have a process for writing your steamy scene? Or is it all the same? like whatever you're writing, you're just it's all it doesn't? It doesn't change?

Melonie
I don't I don't have a set process. No. So like I said, it's very character driven. So it's like, whatever shows up it whatever the characters show up doing in my brain that day. Especially with quarantine, um, it's been more difficult. Because I am home with my husband and two children. 24 seven all the time. We love I do I do. But I was writing something. A couple weeks ago, I was working on a scene One morning, a sexier scene One morning, and it was like just, you know, feeding the dog and the dog barking and yelling about the dog barking and then someone was needing this thing. It was like all of this like, you know, stuff of real life happening around from And it was next to impossible to kind of stay in that mental headspace to write the steamy scene. Yeah. So I'm not someone who has to like light candles and play music like I can write without all of that around me. But it was definitely I kept getting pulled out of of that mental headspace.

Elle
Yup, distractions start, it's like all bets are off. Like I usually have my writing to my very set writing time in the morning. This is when you This is when I write. And this morning, it was like the I had some day job creep. So I was just like, forget it. I'm done. Like I'm done. I'm not gonna be able to do it.

Melonie
Yeah, yeah, sucks.

Elle
All right, so before we dive into your sex scene, I'm curious to you, what do you think makes a sex scene good.

Melonie
I think this comes from my complete connection to characters. I think sex scenes that reveal something about the characters to each other, as well as to the audience can really make a great sex scene. So I know, they say it's supposed to advance the plot or it's supposed to read as opposed to like, something changes within the character for me, it doesn't nothing big has to actually happen. But if something about a person is revealed, in those moments to each other, to the characters themselves on the page, and then obviously, also to the reader who's experiencing this with them. I really, that's what I love to see. That's what that's what kind of like gives me those good book vibes, you know, like, oh, like to see this other piece of this person kind of revealed. And that's what he often you know, what sex does is very Connect connection, the, how it gets personal.

Elle
Right, right. Okay, cool. Okay, so I'm going to be reading excerpts from Smitten by the Brit, can you set this scene up for us?

Melonie
So Smitten by the Brit is the second book and the Sometimes in Love series, and the heroine, Bonnie is best friends with the heroine, Cassie of the first book, so they were all on this whirlwind, European vacation together, which sounds even more amazing right now to travel. So they so you know, her for her friend, Cassie had met her Scott in Scotland. And then they were in, they go to England next. And the Scots best friend happens to be this Brit named Theo. And so she meets Theo in London, and is very attracted to him. But she's actually engaged to be married back home. And so she's like, nope, no, thank you. I will I will admire you from afar, sir. But then obviously, because this is a romance novel, and her book things go awry with her, um, her fiance, and who should happen to be in Chicago. But Theo, and so he's staying there for a couple. He's doing it for a week or so. So he's at the hotel, he's at a hotel, and they are reconnecting. So the set the scene that you're that I sent you, there at the same hotel, and he's basically told her like he is up for, you know, if she needs somebody to help her get over her fiance, he is there for her for the job. You know, he's kind of just laid it out there. And she's like, I can't there's no way I can't do this. And he's like, you know, the offers there, you know, where my room is, you know, you know, I'm there waiting. And so she of course, hems and haws and then decides, you know what, I'm doing this, you know, she's very Shakespearean, so she's like, screw your courage to the sticking point.

Elle
Like, yeah, so she so she knocks on his door and she goes in and so she's, um, yeah, she's like, I'm gonna go for this. Okay. All right. So I've got listeners Be warned. I've got some very actually long excerpts for this one sometimes, like sometimes they're like little short snippets. But for for this, this was hard to pick out and so bear with me, because we're, we're gonna, we're really gonna dig deep into this one. Okay, here we go. How many great lakes are there he asked his breath warm on her skin. Five she croaked, watching as he held her hand out and spread her fingers apart. Lake Michigan is one he said ringlock wriggling her wiggling her Pinky, remind me what the others are. Lake Ontario. That one was easy. Her grandfather owned a fishing cottage very near the Canadian side of the lake and she'd spent many childhood summers visiting him there, pretending she was an on Prince Edward Island. He pressed her thumb to his lips. That's too He said his mouth moving beneath her thumb. Then there's Lake Erie, she continued while he guided her thumb across the soft curve of his mouth. Three he murmured nibbling on her index finger. Funny paused, swallowing hard as his teeth grazed her skin and like You're on for the said before dipping his head to lick her middle finger. The sensation tickled but rather than make her laugh, it made her nipples tight and then she groaned. His smile was wicked, confident, pleased. That leaves one more What's it called? Hmm, she asked her brand feeling like a balloon detach from a body and floating somewhere overhead. The Last Great Lake he reminded her his voice a gentle tease, as he raised her ring finger to his mouth, eyes on her face. Her eyes were as blue as any lake and just as beautiful the swirl of Indigo around his pupils expanding as he continued to stare down at her. She stammered her brain, her brain balloon floating farther away over the wide expanse of the night shadowed like beyond the window, the part of his lips and took her finger into his mouth, he began to suck on the tip of his tongue stroking up and down. This didn't tickle. Not at all, and her brain was floating away, her body was grounded, tied hard and fast to the point of contact between them. It was as if a wire had been strung from her fingertip to her core, creating a direct line of sensation. With each Wet Hot tug on her finger, and answering pulse came from deep inside her body squeezed her eyes shut, Michigan, she muttered, silently struggling to focus as he increased his tempo, Ontario, Erie, Huron, he sucked harder and the pulsing intensified within her suddenly he'd sit down and she gasped, superior. Okay, this was perfect.

I absolutely loved that you focused on the fingers. It can be an erogenous zone, but it's not a sexy part of the body. You know? Yeah. You know, and it was so playful, but it was so hot at the same time. I just loved the way that you work this it was very cool.

Melonie
Yeah, he's I mean, he, she's, she's so nervous, like, so he takes his time with her. And it is like this kind of slow. Yeah, build. And it is very funny, the two of them together, she's getting so flustered.

Elle
This actually reminded me so I took a course during the pandemic on to become a intimacy, sex and intimate intimacy coach. Oh, yeah. So it was kind of like, fascinating to like, Rick, you know, take this course, I'm not becoming certified. By the way, I just took the course. And like to learn about, like, all these different things, and one thing that they we had a section on was about how you don't necessarily need a penis or a vagina to orgasm. So the idea was, you know, specifically, let's say you're paralyzed, or, you know, you or something like that, like, you can actually turn other parts of your body into erogenous zones. And this is like, completely what it made me like, think about like, I was like,

Melonie
cuz later Theo does make her orgasm just by doing some great stuff to her boobs.

Elle
This is what it totally reminded me of. And I was like, Yes. Okay, right there. That's what that's what's going on. I thought that this was really, really smart, and really, really, a really wonderful way to sort of ease them into having sex. I thought that was so well done.

Melonie
That was a that was a fun one to write because it was something that just was so visible in my head, they're standing in this hotel room overlooking Lake Michigan, you know, kind of awkwardly skirting around this idea of what she's there for.

Elle
Right.

Melonie
Right. So he kind of kind of takes control, but in a very delicate way. Yeah,

Elle
yeah, it's definitely not overpowering. And I just thought that it was absolutely beautiful. And I loved that that was the way to sort of, you know, start the scene and it starts in it's very slow, you know, even in slow burns, you sort you sort of see when they get to the sex, it becomes very feral. And, and you know, so you were like waiting and waiting and waiting and inching into it. But then all of a sudden, when they do get to that point, it's like, boom, boom. And this I love that it was still sort of like just really easing the reader and the characters into the moment. So the next bit is, the next bit is actually a short bit we've gone a little bit of a way So okay, this was this was super fun. So they've so now he's basically got her her panties off at this point, where we are slowly worked from the fingers down from the fingers down to panties. So we have moved this very short bit that I absolutely loved. She schooled her face and stared down at him tried to pretend she wasn't basically naked below the waist and he had a bird's eye view of the landscape. Speaking of landscape, when was the last time she'd trim things down, up, down, trim things up down there. Why are you even thinking about that right now? How old when I read it, though. I absolutely howled because it was so real. And you know, it's so because I when I think when I'm writing my second my second is I thought about this and I'm like, Well, I guess they've waxed. Yeah. And I've never actually put it in and I thought that this was a brilliant way to throw it in there and you know, and it also does Express like the nervousness and the prep and trepidation and the fear and the oh my god is this you know, in my Am I doing this right? Am I sexy enough it you know, all of those things that crossed your mind when you're when you're about to embark and in a physical relationship with somebody you know, particularly that you haven't done before.

Melonie
Yeah, and so Bonnie is someone who the only guy she's been with was her now ex fiance. So this is this is a lot for her and she's not something she's really thought about too much. And, and all sudden, yeah, you think, you know, you don't want to be thinking those things. You want your head to be right in the moment, but it's not. It's like, Oh my god, like how does this look and what is going on down here?

Elle
Like, what does he see? Is this okay? Is it Yeah, it's I just I absolutely loved it. I was like, That's brilliant. That's really brilliant. It makes my day anytime someone tells me something I wrote makes them laugh. Okay, a couple paragraphs down, we're back at it with these two. He bent his head again running his tongue along her center while his thumb slid to the outside of her fold. stroking up and down. She moaned is a glimmer of pleasure flitted through her light and quick like stone skipping across the glassy surface of a lake. That's right love. He responded instantly thumb spreading her open as his tongue dipped inside Christ. You're sweet. Oh, god, oh, god, she bit down and breathe through her nose slow and deep in and out, in and out. The urge to laugh had completely abandoned her. What he was doing now wasn't tickling her. It was making her restless, achy, needy. her thighs trembled and she widened her stance, opening herself up, opening herself to him even more. A low growl erupted from his throat. It was so unexpected, so masculine and feral and hot. It made her instantly wet. he growled again deeper in his chest this time and Bonnie felt it and vibrate all through her. Her knees buckled and in a flash she was flat on her back bear scraping against the hotel carpet. Theo was on her in a heartbeat crouching over her on all fours. His hair was must falling in his face, and eyes dark is at the eyes dark is midnight See? Gone was the polite British gentleman who wouldn't start a meal before she did. In his place was this fierce and hungry animal. he ducked his head laughing at her, he devoured her. There was no other word for it, sucking and biting and thrusting his tongue inside of her again and again until she was clenching her fingers in his hair, rocking her hips back and forth. Faster, harder, more, please, more, more. Oh, she gasped. As the ripples of pleasure became a tidal wave sensation rolling through her. He flipped her onto her stomach and pushed forward pressing against her. Hot and hard and oh, beneath the thin fabric of his pants, the thick head of his erection rub between her legs. She could feel him there. She's so innocent. Oh, oh, like Anna Green Gables, like coming. I mean, this whole thing was just so hot. We still haven't gotten to the deed yet. But although, I mean, you'll see I actually mostly highlighted this because, you know, I loved the writing. And I loved the pacing. But it's also a really great juxtaposition to what happens at the end, which I have also highlighted. So I'm going to jump into that now. And this is where we've now changed perspectives. Right, so we've flipped a CSP Yeah, so now we're in. We're, we're in Theo's POV.

My dimples make you dizzy. She shook her head and a lock of hair fell across her face. It's my knees. When you smile at me. the backs of my knees get all prickly and my legs turn to water. How extraordinary he brushed the curl aside, and how long have you been suffering from this affliction? Since the first time I saw you, she confessed eyes piercing his pulling him into their green, blue green depths. Those breath caught in his chest his long stalling he felt to borrow his borrow Bonnie's description all perfectly. When he was able to breathe again. He realized she was crying tears crept from the corners of her eyes. He whipped them across her cheek. What's wrong? Am I a bad person? Sorry. I was engaged when I met you. And, and she sniffled and I couldn't stop thinking about you. I had she dropped her gaze, tear her gaze tear thickened Auburn lashes, hiding her eyes dreams about you. You did now this was getting interesting. You wonder to her dream. about him or as vivid as his dreams about her. She nodded. I she rubbed her tear stained cheek against the pillow. I couldn't stop having thoughts about you. Indeed, his heart began to pound. I kept thinking about you and I was so guilty and ashamed here. I was lusting after a stranger while my fiance waited for me back home. And we both know what he was doing to growled. Yeah, a bitter laugh escaped her. But that doesn't make it okay. My grandpa had a saying two wrongs don't make a right and if I had followed through on my feelings for you last summer, if I had been unfaithful to Gabe, the fact that he'd been unfaithful to me wouldn't balance the scales, it wouldn't justify my own infidelity. Do tuck the finger under her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes, but you're not with Gabe anymore and you were faithful to him. Even if the cheating arsehole didn't deserve it. Bonnie shook her head. I'm sorry for bringing this up. I don't even know why I did. I promised myself I wouldn't dwell on the past. It's okay. He brushed more curls away from her face. Sometimes you need to work through feelings before you can let them go. He bent his head and said low in her ear. If you don't mind. I'd like to hear a bit more about the these lustful thoughts you were having. She left the tension in her ears and her body relaxing against him. She looked so guilty so turn torn up, he decided not depressor instead, he brushed his lips across her forehead, you're not a bad person. attraction happens. I don't think you can control it, but you can control what you do about it. And you did. Unlike that rat bastard ex fiance of yours. The words lay unspoken between them. But by the storm clouds chasing across her face. He knew they'd both been thinking the same thing. The oak histor on the forehead again then urged her to roll to her other side. He curled his body around hers, and though his cock protested, it knew better than to argue his chivalrous side had reared its head. She wasn't ready. Not yet. He thought he was willing to have her on any terms take what she offered, even if it was just her body. Now he knew that wasn't true had likely never been true. Apparently his moral fiber wasn't as paper thin as he thought she snuggled against him the soft sound of her breath going slow, growing slow and deep. Before he began to drift off himself to slit his hand beneath the covers fingers trailing over the lush curve of her hip. He reached between them and gave her Bama squeeze. She shifted in his grip asleep. He chuckled drifting over her shoulder, perv, she muttered.

Melonie
Theo is a butt man.

Elle
So it's important to know that the sex scene ends with absolutely no sex between them with except except for oral I did I sent you a sex scene where they don't actually they don't actually I mean, they have oral sex. I you know, she does have an orgasm. Correct? Or did she come close? She should not. She does. Yeah. on the carpet. Oh, yes. But I like it completely. Like, whoa, no sex, but so intimate. All the fields, particularly at this at this very last and, and I, you know, I thought oh, my God, because, you know, leading up to this, things were getting really hot between them. And I thought that they were gonna have like, some serious doggy style crazy, like, off the wall. They were on the carpet. They were like, you know, I was just like, Whoa, this is getting like wild monkey socks. And then it just pulled back completely. And it turned into a beautiful, tender moment between the two of them. Um, how did you feel about this? When you were? Did you feel like, oh, are the readers going to feel cheated? Or like? Did you have second doubt? Did you have any, like, second thoughts?

Melonie
Um, I don't. So I don't know, if I thought about this was still so early in my writing that I didn't I didn't the reader didn't intrude as much as it may now. Like, I really didn't think about reader expectations, or it was very much again about the characters. And while writing this scene, I don't know if I don't know if I intended to take it all the way. But as I was writing it, it just kind of flowed to this place where she pulled back and he respected that. And that's what came on the page. You know, he said he thought he saw it in there. He felt it in her and Theo is Theo, and he's just not, he's just not gonna do it.

Elle
And it's so funny because we we talk about steamy moments and writing, you know, romance books, and we talk about even, you know, steamy scenes and intimate scenes, I think that sort of knee jerk is that it's got to be about sex, or it is going to be or it's going to be explicit sex. But but I do think that sometimes there are these moments that are very hot and very beautiful and very intimate, but don't actually lead to the deed. You know, and I think that it's important to have those.

Melonie
Yeah, there. That's it's a, it's definitely can explore characterization in there and building that relationship and intimacy mean, sex is a form of intimacy. So maybe, you know, in the end, where what we're really talking about here is intimacy in all its forms.

Elle
Yes, absolutely. And I think that that kind of often gets forgotten about when we do talk about intimacy. intimacy doesn't have to be sex.

Melonie
That's such a good point. Because I feel like maybe that is the heart of why. So I think everyone who writes sex scenes will get these reviews of readers who are completely disgusted by the sex on the page. You know, like, like, Oh, I cannot believe like, Oh, they use words like dirty or, you know, what have you. And if you think about it as an act of intimacy, you know, like, if this if the open door isn't for you, that's fine. But to like, label it as being something, you know, wrong are disgusting.

Elle
No, it's not. I think it's, you know, yeah, it's intimacy is. It's beautiful. Yeah, it absolutely is. And, and you don't and, and, and, you know, you don't need because there are sweet romances that can get very intimate. Yes, yes. Yeah, I agree. You know, and I mean, I'm actually, you know, sweet romance writers, if you're out there, I want to have you on the podcast.

Melonie
That would be because that'd be some great discussions of how you get those hot moments without the actual deal without being hot.

Elle
I had Samantha chase on everybody, she is the only one that I've had on that's close the door. I mean, her stuff got pretty steamy, even though the deed actually never happened. But I would love to talk to somebody who does, like, you know, very chaste romances because I, you know, how do you because we are so used to intimacy being, you know, being sex or, or, you know, how do you so how do you write that without the actual act of sex? Which I honestly, I think you did it here. Even though it's a little bit, you know, sort of, it's more sexy than you would find in a sweet romance. But yeah, this is exactly what you did. Like you just wrote like, a very intimate scene without actual sex, and particularly this end part, like they had already had that sort of like that moment. And this was kind of like not even like if you pull that out if you just pull this out and away from that, you know, that that sexual moment that they had this stands on its own is a very intimate moment. Yeah, I love them.

Melonie
It's the feel of the heroes in the sometimes series like few is the absolute favorite people write to me about him.

Elle
I mean, he I guess it's a beta. Beta hero, right?

Melonie
He is kind of Yeah, he is kind of the beta here or I've heard you know, he's just he's very driven to doing the right thing and who taking care of his family and but he's still very hot. Yeah,

Elle
I don't think betas get enough love the alphas always get all the attention. The betas are the beauties, though. They really are. The betas. So Ronnie, where? Where can readers? Okay, wait first what's coming up for you? You have a book coming on?

Melonie
I do. Yeah, Too Good to Be Real. So this is my love letter to romantic comedies. I talked about it being if you've ever seen the movie Austin land or read the book, Austin land. This is Austin land for lovers of romantic comedies. And it's about a resort that lets you live in a romantic comedy.

Elle
Oh what a fun idea.

Melonie
You go to the resort and you kind of get to pick from a series of experiences. And you have Yeah, you basically get to live in a rom com for a week.

Elle
Oh, that's so fun.

Melonie
So yeah, so lots of fun.

Elle
Does they does that mean? Like you mean? Do they have guys for you to me? And then after it's over, it's like, go home. And it's like, it never happened.

Melonie
So it's a variety. So there's a couple. Yes. So she, the heroine is reporter for a online, pop culture magazine, so to speak. It's basically rip on BuzzFeed. It's called trend list. And so she's doing this. She's going there to do a write up on the opening grand opening of this place. And she's very, she loves ROM coms, but she's very kind of like this just doesn't happen in real life. Like the state that her her experiences in her own life have taught her that those moments and ROM coms just don't exist. So of course, of course, she will be proven wrong.

Elle
What a wonderful idea and oh my gosh, like you know, somebody out there with resort experience. This is a fun idea.

Melonie
Yeah, so there is a combination of things like in Austin land, there are actors who are there. It's like LARPing it's live action. Like going into a LARP experience where there are the the characters who are there the what is it they call them the np non-playing characters NPCs like that. So you know, that are kind of there to kind of build atmosphere but there's and there's there's single people, they're looking for For some fun, and there are married couples they're looking to reignite the spark. There's a couple there who Harry and Sally. Oh, I love who are there to reignite their spark and it's so it's so kind of a mix of things. And as the heroine is the reporter she kind of has to delve into like, getting little bits and pieces of like, how this all works and, and wow.

Elle
Oh, that sounds awesome. I can't wait now till July 6, I will pre order it. Is it on pre order yet?

Melonie
Yes, Too Good to Be Real. It's on pre order. I actually just announced yesterday, there's a special preorder you can do through romance bookstore Loves Sweet Arrow, and get some extra prizes and fun stuff. Fun stuff with your order.

Elle
Cool. And can you talk about the writing watch for just a quick minute What? That's separate, that's a little bit separate from your persona.

Melonie
Um, so The Writing Lush is it kind of became my brand by accident, I made the whole joke about you know, write drunk, edit sober, right, like, write drunk, edit drunk or whatever. But just just, he became very much about about writing romance and reading romance is you know, kind of indulging in a pleasure not you know, not a guilty pleasure but just a plot like it be embracing those things that give you pleasure embracing those pieces of your life that just kind of make things more fun. So living like that Lush Life and and enjoying the things that that bring you pleasure, be it romance, be a bubble bath, be an ice cream, be it a glass of wine, or a cocktail that starts with the letter M. And so it kind of you know, so I have a group on Facebook called the reading lashes. And it's kind of like my little corner where my readers can come and we share cocktail recipes and hot pics of guys and kilts and whatever else floats our boat that day. And it kind of has slowly been built into a brand because, um, you know, now I have I'm a co host of the boozy book broads, which is myself Danielle dresser and Angelina and Lopez, the three of us who do a monthly show with it with where we bring in an author and we have a signature cocktail of the night and we just just have a fun night out in LA because it's virtual events. We just get we get we get boozy and we have a good time. So yeah, it's become it's become kind of my brand like as more of an author brand versus like, it's not so much my books, but as just as me Right.

Elle
Right. So where's the best place for people to connect with you online?

Melonie
so you can find me, Melanie Johnson, m e l o ni E and because of the spelling it's pretty easy to find. Thanks to my mom. So Instagram My website is Melanie Johnson calm if you find the writing it hashtag the writing lash, you'll probably find me on whatever social media you type that hashtag into.

Elle
Okay, perfect. And I will have all of the links in the show notes for listeners who do want to connect. Melanie, thank you so much for doing this. This was super fun. I had a great time. Thanks for having us and have to come back again.

Melonie
I would definitely be happy to do that. We can come back after the with the Papasan sex book I'm writing right now.

Elle
Yes! More sex coming soon! So thank you so much.

Melonie
Thank you