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Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Melonie Johnson!!

Today we have a return guest, 2016 AND 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Melonie Johnson, whose manuscript SOMETIMES YOU NEED A SEXY SCOT is nominated once again for Best Contemporary Romance!

Melonie—aka #thewritinglush—loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas…always margaritas. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. Now they live happily ever after in the suburbs of Chicago with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. A former high school English and Theatre teacher, Melonie writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin. A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, you can visit her at meloniejohnson.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelonieJohnson.

Melonie’s here with us today to talk about a topic near and dear to so many of our hearts: the importance (and pleasure) of friendships…even in the middle of a romance!

Take it away, Melonie!

*****************************

photo credit Heather Stumpf

This is my Sexy Scot’s second spin on the Golden Heart dance floor. After signing with an agent last summer (Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency), I went through a round or two of revisions.

Seeing as I wasn’t on submission yet by the time the GH window was closing, I decided to toss my story into the ring once more. I’m thrilled I did because finaling a second time means now I get to be a Mermaid (GH class of ’16) and a Rebelle! Happy to be back visiting the Rubies once again. Since I’ve introduced this story before, I’ll keep it short and sweet this time:

She indulged in a kilty pleasure…and got punked by a Scottish Hunk. A Chicago social media maven locks lips with a sexy Scot only to discover she’s the unwitting star of an internet prank and now must keep the kiss that launched a million clicks from sinking her career.

My Golden Heart manuscript begins with a group of friends on the vacation of their dreams. Our heroine, Cassie Crow, is determined to fulfill another fantasy while on this trip—she wants a foreign fling—and scores her hot hook-up in the form of sexy Scot, Logan Reid. Cassie’s escapade would never happen, however, without the help of her friends. And while this book is about the relationship that develops between Cassie and Logan, it’s also about Cassie’s other relationships—the ones she has with her friends.

Friendships are a central part of my stories, and that comes, in part, from the basic mantra: write what you love to read. I love to read stories with well-developed friendships and enjoy the banter between the heroine and her besties in equal measure to that between the heroine and hero. I relish the scenes where a dear friend helps the heroine work through her feelings as much as the moment when the hero figures out he’s found the one. Honestly, I think finding a tribe of friends you can count on is almost as important as finding your mate. Sometimes, it can be more important.

Me and my high school besties, Big bangs and jean shorts, even in winter. Hello 90s.

My oldest daughter starts high school in the fall, and she’s terrified. Her biggest fear (aside from not being able to remember her locker combination) is she won’t make any friends. I’ve tried to explain she’ll be fine—seriously, if the girl had a superpower, it would be making friends—but what fourteen-year-old listens to anything her mom says? She’s convinced herself that where she decides to sit at lunch on the first day of school will decide her fate for the next four years. I’ve told her that’s ridiculous, but then recall that one of my bridesmaids was a girl I met my freshman year…when we shared a lunch table. (Okay, so maybe it’s a good thing she doesn’t listen to me)

While we all dream of falling in love romantically, I think we also hope for another kind of love—one that involves as much trust and loyalty and connection. Hence, the appeal of these relationships in a story. Who doesn’t want a Diana to their Anne? A Bess and George to their Nancy? A Threepio to their Artoo (sorry, couldn’t resist).

What about you? Do you have a favorite literary friendship? (Movies and television count too). Let me know in the comments! I’ll be giving away three $5 Starbucks e-giftcards and since June is Audiobook Month, I’ll include a code for a free audiobook from Audible for my latest narration project, Swim Season, a YA sports drama which focuses, interestingly enough, on the friendships a high school senior develops when she moves to a new school and joins the swim team.

46 responses to “Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Melonie Johnson!!”

  1. C.R. Grissom says:

    Melonie,

    Love this post and cannot wait to read Sometimes You Need a Sexy Scot. Just the kind of story I love.

    Friendships are food for my soul. And I love strong, loyal friendships in the stories I read. From Harry and Hermione, to Stephanie Plum and Lula to Lt. Eve Dallas and Peabody, friendships matter. (They matter so much I couldn’t pick one just one.)

    I’m so happy you threw your hat in the ring again. I’m thrilled you’re a Mermaid and a Rebelle. We’ll share margaritas and a possible meet-cute (LOL) in Orlando. We’re dooming our children—dooming them to forever friendship, which is the point. One can never have enough friends…

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Ha! Yes, love the friendship of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and how it evolves over the course of the series.

      Delighted to be in the Rebelle Diner with you and can’t wait to have a margarita (or two) in Orlando and discuss potential wedding themes for our offspring 😉

      1+
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Sigh. Oh, yes!! I treasure the fact that Harry and Hermione care so much about each other, and romance was never a factor.

      1+
  2. Congrats on your second final! I love margaritas too, but then who doesn’t?

    My favorite literary friends were actual a young girl and her horse (No. Not Flicka or Black Beauty) Cintra’s horse knew her every secret and desire, especially when it came to a certain young man. So many years later and I still remember them.

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Ooh, yes – the friendships with an animal can be so special too. Don’t think I know the particular story you mention but now I want to check it out! I loved the book Morgan Mine when I was little and envied that little Princess her friendship with the unicorn.
      Thanks for stopping by! Raising a rita (rocks, with salt, of course) – cheers!

      0
  3. I *LOVE* friendships in books. What a fabulous topic. My favorite contemporary series are the ones that work their way through a group of friends.

    My first thought was Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I also adore the friendships in Jennifer Crusie’s books. (Welcome to Temptation? True friends help you move the body.) Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses are great and I adore the friendships in Darynda’s Charley Davidson books. Even just thinking about friendships in books puts a smile on my face.

    Congratulations on your second final in a row! And good luck in Orlando and with selling this book, because I would love to read it. 🙂

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Hi Viv! Thanks for the well wishes – fingers crossed! The GH MS is the first in a planned series that follows, you guess it, the heroine’s besties.

      And yes, love Crusie’s banter between friends (especially while sharing Dove bars – yum!)

      0
  4. Seana Kelly says:

    Melonie, congratulations on your final!! I’m loooking forward to reading your book. Who doesn’t want a sexy Scot?! <3 I also love strong friendships in books! My favorites are Charley & Cookie, Eve Dallas & Peabody, Lizzie & Jane (yes, they're sisters but also best friends). Great question and I'm looking forward to seeing you at RWA!

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      *waves fins* Hello Mermaid!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing the love too 🙂

      Of course sisters count as friends! The dynamic between Elinor & Marianne in S&S has always held a special place in my heart.

      Congrats on the release of your #GH16 book and on the AMAZING reviews you’re getting!

      2+
  5. jbrayweber says:

    Wow! Two GH finals on the same book. That must be a special story. Love your pic, too. So sassy!

    Literary friendships…my more well-known favorites would be Darynada’s Charlie and Cookie and Evanovich’s Stephanie and Lula. These are characters of series which gives us more time to get to know them and love them. Movies and TV…Han and Chewie (wink, wink), The Young Guns, Friends, Mazikeen and Linda on Lucifer…these are off the top of my head. I’m sure there ar boatloads more.

    The way the characters play off each other, especially using snark and comedy, or balance each other out clinches it.
    Great topic.

    Good luck in Orlando, Melonie. I bet great things are coming your way.

    Jenn!

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Hi Jenn! Han and Chewie – now there’s an epic bromance. That scene in The Force Awakens… *sob* we won’t talk about it.

      I agree, part of the fun or reading (and writing) friend scenes is the snarky “love you but am going to give you all the sh*t” banter that happens between besties.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the luck! Let’s hope you win that bet 😉

      2+
  6. Alexis Daria says:

    LOVE your TBT pic, Melonie. Friendships can add so much to stories, and deepen the way the reader relates to the protagonist.

    To answer your question, I might have to go with Harry and Hermione on this one. Hermione is the real deal, ride or die, BFFL. Ron is his bro, but Hermione is the one who stands by him in his mission, at the cost of everything she holds dear.

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Hey there fellow Rebelle!
      You are so right, Hermione is the ultimate loyal friend. Really, that girl would make a great Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff too – but she fits as a Gryffindor because, like you said, the sacrifices she makes take courage and a true strength of heart. When she has to erase herself from her parents’ memories… oh.

      1+
  7. Scots and kilts. Yes, please! 😉

    I love how Jill Shalvis portrays both male and female friendships. I want to move to Lucky Harbor so I can hang out with all the cool kids.

    I hope the Disney bars have enough tequila for us Rebelles. There will be margaritas. Lots of them. Can’t wait to toast with my fellow Rebelles! Congratulations, Melonie and taking another spin on the Golden Heart ride!

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      We Rebelles are going to close the place down! There’s just something about a kilt, hm?

      Confession: I’ve never read a Jill Shalvis booj – I have a stack of them from various RWA events etc, and definitely have to find some time to dig into a few!

      0
  8. Elisa Beatty says:

    So lovely to have you with us again, Melonie!!

    Count me down as another big fan of friendships (especially female friendships) in romances!

    I’m thinking of Jane Eyre, and her powerful friendships with Helen and Miss Temple, and how even after Jane and Rochester have fallen in love, she has to leave him and find her own path in the world…and ends up with the young women (who are eventually revealed to be her cousins) who take her in and make her feel like she truly belongs. Only after she’s got all that can the romance plot be resolved.

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      Thanks for hosting the next GH class each year and all the time and effort you spend organizing us Elise!

      Those friendships are so important and often help the heroine much more than the hero who is off brooding on some windy moor. 😉

      0
  9. Hey Missy! I’m dropping by to say ‘Hi” and congrats on your 2017 nomination! Go, you:)!!!!

    Now, as for literary friendships, I’ve got a few — some of whom help me get through the days and nights of revisions, story ideas, villains, and sometimes just plain good times. So, yeah. I’m all about friendships.

    Best of luck to you – I’ll be in the room cheering for you:)!

    1+
    • Lol. I am a crappy reader. In the literary world, the black dagger brotherhood by j.r. Ward. Those relationships… despite their differences and talk about through thick and thin–make me swoon:)!

      2+
  10. Darynda says:

    I’m kind of fangirling over the fact that you’re a narrator!!! I love audiobooks so much.

    Welcome, Melonie. Your book sounds amazing. I hope, fingers crossed with cherries on top, it sells so I can read (and/or listen to) it soon.

    I agree completely about friendships in fiction. So, so important. I love Sherlock’s Watson. And I adored the four friends in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

    Great post and congrats on your second GH final!!!

    2+
    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, yes!!! Sherlock and Watson!!! My perennial fave.

      1+
    • Melonie says:

      Thanks for stopping by! I’ve been narating for a little over a year now and enjoy how it lets me dust off those acting skills. I love audiobooks too – my TBR pile would be insurmountable without them! I actually listened to your first Charley D book on the flight to/from RWA in San Diego last summer!

      And Sherlock/Watson – there’s another epic bromance! It shines through in most iterations of the story, but the chemistry between Cumberbatch & Freeman is hard to beat.

      1+
  11. Great post, Melonie. As a child of the 90s, I can appreciate the fabulousness of bangs and jean shorts.

    So many great literary friendships have been mentioned already. I’d like to add Sam and Frodo to the mix. Samwise was loyal to the core, and you know he would’ve held Frodo’s hair back after a wild night in the club.

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Hey Rebelle!
      OMG I can totally see that scene playing out!

      Sean Astin stars in one of my fav friend flicks ever – THE GOONIES!

      0
  12. Kari W. Cole says:

    Great post. I think the friendships are some of the best parts of ongoing series. Like Jules, Sam, and Alyssa in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or Butch, Vishous, and Rhage in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. They ground the characters, no matter how crazy the plot, and bring pathos to their journeys.

    I can’t wait to read Sometimes You Need a Sexy Scot.

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      Hey my Mermaid/Rebelle!

      Yes – you nailed it! And I think those friendships are something every reader can relate to as well.

      0
  13. Congrats on the GH Final!!! Fingers crossed for your sexy Scot and looking forward to catching up in Orlando, fellow Mermaid. 🙂

    Since you said television friendships were okay, I’m going with Inspector Lewis and his DS, James Hathaway from Inspector Lewis. I enjoy watching them over and over for their droll banter.

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      Hi Mermaid, thanks for swimming by!

      I admit I don’t know that one, but I love me some droll banter so sign me up!

      See you in Orlando!

      0
  14. Gabrielle says:

    Hmm, now you’ve got me thinking! I *love* writing friendships, they can be so supportive but also so complicated. Some of my favorite friendships are those in “Friday Night Lights.” Coach and Tami Taylor are great friends (as well as my idea of the best-written couple in TV history), but the award for Best Friend Eva goes to Tim Riggins (and not just for the obvious reason 😛) Yes, he screws up in a regular basis, but he’s loyal to a fault–sometimes to his own detriment.

    GOOD LUCK IN ORLANDO! I wish I could be there to cheer you on xxx

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      So happy you swam by for a visit today, and oh, I will really miss you in Orlando this summer. We’ll just have to make up for it another time 😉

      And yes – friendships can be complicated, especially as a romance develops for one of the friends which can alter the dynamic sometimes.

      1+
  15. Gabrielle says:

    I loooove writing friendships when that happens.

    I will most def see you in Denver–will hunt down the perfect margarita shack 😉

    2+
  16. Tracy Brody says:

    Congrats on your second Golden Heart final, Melonie. I can’t wait for this to be published so I can read it too.

    Kari, already snagged Jules and Sam’s friendship from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. Love that it can be a guy’s friendship,not just between the females. I have that same vibe going in my series where some of the guys are friends and some just come together to get the job done.

    And while romance is a special relationship, friendships can be that constant, steadying relationship without the kind of friction that sometimes you experience in a romance.

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Hello to another Rebelle Mermaid!
      Thanks for stopping by Tracy – and of course guy friendships are important too! Logan (the Sexy Scot) has a best friend and consummate wing man, Theo – who we meet in this book and becomes the hero of Book 2 🙂

      1+
  17. Melonie, congratulations my Mermaid sister! So thrilled for you.

    I would say I enjoyed the friendship between the Duke of Jervaulx and his friend Fane and Durham in Flowers from the Storm. When everyone else had turned their backs on Jervaulx, his two friends had his back.

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      Hey there Mermaid! Congrats on your gorgeous cover reveal!!!

      Oooh – Flowers From the Storm is one of my all time favorite reads, and I never really thought about it, but you are right – those men have his back trough a lot of crap.

      1+
  18. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Sage advice, Autumn!

    0
  19. Susannah Erwin says:

    Being home sick means watching lots of comfort TV – and I’ve found myself binging on old Sex and the City episodes. I love that the series portrays female friendship as such a powerful force – as I think Big says, they’re the loves of each others’ lives, a guy is lucky to come in fourth.

    Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando!

    2+
    • Melonie says:

      Hey there Rebelle!
      Sorry you are still not feeling well. 🙁 But an excuse for some good t.v. time isn’t so bad once in awhile.
      Ah, yes, those fabulous brunches and always having a pack of besties at your back. Hard to beat that!

      0
  20. Elisa Beatty says:

    The winners of the Starbucks cards and codes for the audiobook are Renee Ann Miller, Carrie Nichols, and Denny Bryce!

    Melonie will be in touch! Thanks for stopping by!

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      Thanks to everyone who visited and commented! And a big thank-you to the Rubies for hosting the Rebelles. See you in Orlando!

      0
  21. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    I like that your book starts with “besties” on a dream vacation. There are so many places I have visited with my “besties” and more I would like to explore with them, too. But, what I have found, is that anywhere we are together is a place worth visiting.

    As for fictional BFF friendships, I would have to say “Abs” from NCIS and “DG” from the SYFY Channel series “Tin Man”. Books…”Jo” from “Little Women”.

    Best of luck to you, Melonie!

    1+
    • Melonie says:

      Hey Cynthia!
      Thanks for stopping by (again! 😉 )

      All my vacations have been with the husband or my family…so the idea of a girl getaway is pure fantasy for me that I totally indulged in while writing this book. I definitely hope to live out a few of those dreams one day!

      1+

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