Author Friends: MV Ellis

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I’m what I’d describe as a recovering panster. Catching London was produced totally by the seat of my pants – sometimes there were no pants at all, if I’m totally honest! Since then, in the interests of bringing more beautiful words to more readers, more often, I’m on the way to pantsing recovery. For my second book, I plotted, but I can’t truthfully say I stuck to the plot all the time, as this definitely wasn’t the case. Maybe I’ll be more diligent with number three…who knows?

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I’ve never personally suffered from Writer’s Block, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it exists. I believe it’s very real for those who suffer from it – though hopefully I’ll never join their ranks. However, on occasion, I’ll find myself a little ‘stuck.’ This might mean I’ve written myself into a corner (that’s where those plans come in handy, if you have them!), or I’ve just run out of energy and/or inspiration for that day, or writing session. For these moments, I’ve found it best to give myself a break in some shape or form. This might be simply moving on to a different scene, chapter, or even project, and returning later with ‘fresh’ eyes. Other times it’s best to change things up completely, and do something entirely different. I might chose another creative pursuit to keep the juices flowing – maybe I’ll watch TV, listen to music, or even read a book. Other times it’s best to switch off completely – hang out with my family, go to the beach, meet a friend for coffee, or even take a nap (this last one almost never happens!). One of the most interesting, but also frustrating things about being a writer is that no two days are ever the same, so the options for how things might pan out are endless…

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

Unusually, I’m not really one for re-reading books, or re-watching movies. If I read something, it tends to be something I’ve never encountered before.

Describe your perfect writing space:

I currently write at the end of our 3m long kitchen table. This is not a description of my perfect writing space. I have a home office which can currently best be described as a junk room (and that’s being polite). I have minimalist leanings, so I would love a large airy white space with minimal but pretty furniture, and maybe a few stunning black and white photos for inspiration, but not much else. That, or a beach in the Maldives. One can dream…

Do you write your title first or story first?

I write the story first generally, and then the title tends to fall from the narrative, but there are no hard and fast rules.

And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Text (excerpt from Catching London): My hair is piled up in a messy bun. Okay, so there’s a fair bit of side boob action happening, but my For Love and Lemons triangle bra is taking care of it pretty well.
Flash Fiction
That doesn’t stop him from looking at me like he’s a starving wolf, and I’m a lamb to the slaughter. It’s a pretty accurate description of what’s going on between us right now. We’re a foregone conclusion. I don’t know when we switched from being an ‘if’ to a ‘when,’ but somewhere along the way it happened, and now we’re on like Donkey Kong. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…
He stalks closer, sweeping another admiring glance over me. His desire blazes in his eyes like the fire of a thousand suns, and is as palpable as if it were a third person in the room between us. Every instinct is telling me to run, to get the hell out of there as fast as my legs will carry me. Despite knowing we have instincts for a very good reason, my brain has decided to pick today to override those instincts and follow my heart, rather than my gut. Actually, I’m not following anything. I’m not moving at all, in fact. I’m rooted to the spot, as solidly as an ancient oak in an undiscovered forest.
Lamb to the slaughter.
Be still my bleating heart.


MV ELLIS knows what it’s like to fall head over heels in love with a badass musician. She followed her heart halfway around the world to be with one. She moved from London to Sydney after a steamy holiday romance with a sexy bass player in sultry Brazil.

Twelve years, two children and a dog later, and she’s still smitten. All this with a guy she sat next to on a bus for 36 hours! She has toured internationally as a ‘WAG’, and her experiences inspire her writing.

Ellis’ love of romance began when she was 11 years old, after a summer spent secretly reading her auntie’s books. She’s been a sucker for an alpha hero and strong heroine ever since.

An avid reader, Ellis always knew that she’d write a book of her own one day. She was right about that. Following a career spanning advertising, marketing, and social media, she finally wrote Catching London in 2017.






Author Friends: Leslie McAdam

Are you a panster or a plotter?

Plotter all the way. I tried writing a book once as a pantser. It wasn’t pretty, and I don’t have the patience to rewrite that much. I try to get it as well-written as I can the first time around, which requires a lot of planning.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

No. I don’t. Normally the problem is in thinking, not in writing. But since I think while writing, it’s the same thing for me. If I need to write, “I need to write, I need to write, I need to write,” I’ll do that. Sometimes the pump needs priming, so I’ll just write junk until I get the word count down and then I try another day.

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

Only one? A House Like A Lotus by Madeline L’Engle. Followed closely by anything by Kristen Ashley or R.L. Mathewson.

Describe your perfect writing space:

Not interrupted every minute by my kids.
No, seriously, I can write almost anywhere. Normally, I’m in an ugly, old, pink armchair that has seen better days with a lap desk and my laptop. But I like coffee shops, too. Or the side of the road with a notebook and pencil. 

Do you write your title first or story first?

Nearly always the title. I often construct a story based on the title.

And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Well. Just because Facebook kicked him off for nudity didn’t mean it was wrong. His body? One to worship. Lean, sinewy muscles backed with strength and power. Soft, tan skin. A few tattoos based on stories he’d never tell. He wasn’t about to go down fighting. He’d start his own website, more popular than anything on social media. If only he could get the funding.
Thankfully his best friend was a venture capitalist wanting to expand into new areas. Unfortunately he was also the brother of the only girl he’d ever loved…and lost.



Leslie McAdam is a California girl who loves romance, Little Dude, and well-defined abs. She lives in a drafty old farmhouse on a small orange tree farm in Southern California with her husband and two small children. Leslie always encourages her kids to be themselves – even if it means letting her daughter wear leopard print from head to toe. An avid reader from a young age, she will always trade watching TV for reading a book, unless it’s Top Gear. Or football. Leslie is employed by day but spends her nights writing about the men you fantasize about. She’s unapologetically sarcastic and notoriously terrible at comma placement.

Always up for a laugh, Leslie tries to see humor in all things. When she’s not in the writing cave you’ll find her fangirling over Beck, camping with her family, or mixing up oil paints to depict her love of outdoors on canvas.

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Author Friends: Jodi Payne

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I’m that rare hybrid bird. I’m a plotting panster. I’ve discovered that I am pulled in so many directions that if I don’t make some scene notes and jot down ideas about the direction the train is headed, I lose them and can’t recall those details when I am writing. So I write out key scenes on index cards, loosely based on a three-act-play sort of structure, and then I know things will move and change as the characters develop more organically.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I definitely do. The only thing I know how to do is to write something unrelated for a while. So write a poem or a blog post. Write flash fic or a letter to someone. The important thing for me is to keep writing, because if I’m blocked and I get out of the habit of writing at the same time, I’m doomed. It’s extremely difficult to get back on the wagon.

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

You’ll never believe this, but I’m not a comfort reader. I know, that’s not what an author is supposed to say! Sorry. I do have favorite books–Beloved (Toni Morrison), Hamlet, Good Omens (Gaiman and Pratchett), Calvin & Hobbes–but I don’t comfort read. I listen to music when that’s what I’m looking for. I’m a huge music fan.

Describe your perfect writing space:

Lots of natural light, decent speakers, and a clear desk. When I can I like to get a good view – ocean, mountains, park, trees – something to stare at when I’m thinking that’s bigger than I am and full of fresh air.

Do you write your title first or story first?

The story first. Ask any editor I’ve ever had. I am terrible with titles. The story is frequently written and submitted with a “working title” because I can’t come up with them on my own. So stressful!

And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Oh my God, I have been so busy lately. And now it’s crazy Tuesday, as I call it., one of the busiest days of the week. It’s up early to drive the kids to school, then it’s off to work, a lunch hour meeting, rushing out in time to pick up the kids after work, hurry to Panera and get them fed, then drop one off here and one off there, by 7:00pm. I have to pick up one at 8:00pm and another at 8:30pm. But in the middle of this crazy day I get to steal one solid, blissfully quiet hour. And you know what I do with it?

I go to Starbucks.

I do. I get a latte, usually with something sweet in it like caramel or vanilla. I take it to a table where I sit, alone, and do something really exciting like watch people out the window running around just like I was.

And I drink it.

I drink it slowly, savoring every uninterrupted sip. Every minute that no one is talking to me. Every second a phone doesn’t ring. One hour of not making myself accountable. I don’t run errands. I don’t catch up on paperwork. That’s my time. Mine.


I jealously protect that hour like Gollum hoards The One Ring.


Jodi Payne takes herself way too seriously and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likeable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can’t help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after. For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi’s addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec and tequila any way you pour it.






Latest Release

Blurb for Creative Process:

Best-selling thriller author Reese Kelsey knows his career isn’t conducive to romance. He doesn’t work the normal nine-to-five, and sometimes his characters take hold and demand all his attention, causing him to neglect important appointments… and lovers. Rather than go through another heartbreak, Reese contents himself with his small circle of friends-fellow gay New York City artists-and his dedicated publicist, Chad.

Until he sees Owen Mercado lugging his cello toward the subway and impulsively offers him a ride.

Owen has worked long and hard for a career in the symphony, and success comes with a demanding schedule-something Reese understands. Their desires and lifestyles are surprisingly compatible, and Reese and Owen certainly set the bedroom on fire. They’re both carrying baggage, but they fit, and it’s hard not to hope for a future that once seemed impossible.

But when Reese’s work inevitably pulls him into its dark world and refuses to let go, Owen draws a hard line, and Reese discovers he can’t rely on good intentions alone. He will have to control the obsession that drove his other lovers away or risk losing Owen as well.

Buy Link for Creative Process:




Author Friends: Eva King

Are you a panster or a plotter?
I’m a pantser through and through. I cannot, for the life of me, plan a book in advance. Believe me, I’ve tried. But it was absolute shite.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?
Yes, I do. I’ve suffered from it. You just stare at an empty, blank page for hours.
The only way I’ve managed to get over it was by stopping writing all together and read as much as I can. Then I try again after a couple of days.
What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over. 
Argh! Do I have to say? Right, okay… Twilight. I think I’ve read it about ten times. It isn’t a classic, but I see Stephenie Meyer as an inspiration. If she could do it, so could I.
Describe your perfect writing space: 
My perfect writing space would be an empty house for a whole day with no Wifi. Just me and my laptop. However, the chances of that happening are very slim, so I just use my mobile phone on the train as I make my way to work.
Do you write your title first or story first?
None of the above. I write the characters first. Everything else comes after.
And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:


I needed this land, like I needed air. 
Filling my lungs with the fresh air, I imagined my children, running wild, climbing trees. Growing older and having their own kids.
The circle of life would happen right here, underneath my feet. 
I circled around and faced the realtor, “I want to buy this land. Can I sign the papers now?”
She beamed, “yes, of course.”
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Recovering from a broken relationship, Emma Mitchell moves in with her best friend. Her life is quiet and uneventful, just how she likes it. Little does she know that the events of the following months will change her life forever.

Famous Hollywood actor James McNair is a renowned womaniser with a penchant for partying and hitting the tabloids for all the wrong reasons. When a night of partying a little too hard means he finally has to take stock and reevaluate his lifestyle, a week away from the flashing lights of Hollywood is just what he needs. What better place to hide than in his childhood home in Edinburgh, Scotland?

When the old friends are reunited, feelings resurface and sparks fly. But James must keep the pretence of his new persona until the premier of his biggest film in his career. He just has no idea if he’ll be able to keep his feelings for Emma under wraps until then.

Sometimes it takes more than damage control to find a happily ever after.

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Author Friends: Brenda Murphy

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I’m a reformed pantser, I struggled with structure and flow, and then I took two screenwriting classes and it helped. Now I write one line scene descriptions on 3×5 index cards, sort them into my story and write from that, and it has made me a much faster writer, and I end up with a stronger first draft to work with.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

No. I don’t have time for writers block. If I come to a tricky part that I’m struggling with I go back to my notes and outline, read over them and then do something completely unrelated to writing, like gardening or photography, or art journaling and then come back to the work and start again.

 What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

My comfort reads right now for fiction are Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, and for non-fiction Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert when I need to reset.

Describe your perfect writing space: 

A flat surface to work on with a never-ending pot of tea, and a salty oat biscuit or two.

Do you write your title first or story first?

Story first always, and then title.

 And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

 What money? I read the text again my hands sweaty as I pressed send. I tapped out a rhythm on my steering wheel as I waited for her reply.

The money I had in the emergency stash.

Why are you looking for it? I stalled.  I had planned on paying it back after my last gig. But that hadn’t turned out so well. Now the emergency fund was short $600.00 and I was screwed. Even if she said yes to marrying me she would be pissed I spent the money on a ring. I pulled in to the driveway and killed the headlights. I could see her through the window, pacing with her phone in her hand. I tucked the small velvety box into the pocket of my leather jacket, and blew out a breath before I opened the car door.

She opened the door to the house before I got there a frown on her face. “Were you texting and driving?”

“No baby I was around the corner. I pulled over.”

She stepped back and we entered the house. She grabbed me by my jacket and pushed me up against the wall. Her lips were soft on mine, she slid her hands up under my jacket, brushing over my breasts before she pulled me closer to rub my back.

I relaxed into her touch as she kissed her way along my neck. “Hey baby I got something to ask you.”

She pulled back and looked into my eyes “About what?” Her eyes were wary. “The money?”

“In a way.” I kneeled on one knee and pulled the small box from my pocket and opened it. “Would you marry me?” My throat went dry as I said it.

She eyed the ring. “Is that our emergency fund?”

I flushed, heat rising in my face. I looked down and away from her eyes. “Yeah. I’m sorry I as going to put it back but the gig fell thorough.” Shame filled me, how could I ever expect her to marry a loser like me?

She gripped my chin and forced my head back. She kissed me hard, her teeth kicking my lip before she pulled back and met my gaze. “Asking me to marry you was an emergency? Are you pregnant?” The playful look in her eyes broke the tension of the moment. She smoothed her hand over my hair.

“Only if there is a star in the east.” We both laughed and she tugged me to me feet.

“Yes. But don’t think you’re off the hook for repaying the emergency fund.”

Links and Bio

Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One, published by NineStar Press in November 6, 2017. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, Writing While Distracted.

Facebook:  Writing While Distracted

Teaser from One:

MAC STRETCHED HER legs out and shifted in her seat. Her hips were tight from the flight even with the extra leg room in first class. Fearful of dreaming again, she had managed to stay awake. She glanced over at Lana. She was asleep with her long legs tucked up in her seat. The dark blue thin airline blanket draped her full curves. Mac listened to her soft and easy breathing. Her hair spilled across her face. The sandy brown strands mixed with occasional streaks of gray hid her eyes from Mac’s gaze. She wanted to reach out and tuck Lana’s hair behind her ear so she could study the delicate curve of her face.

Mac looked away. If she wakes up and I’m staring at her she’ll think I’m a creeper. She tucked her hands under her thighs. Unable to resist, she glanced at Lana again. For fuck’s sake, she’s a woman like any other woman. Except she isn’t. Forget it. So not like any woman I’ve ever wanted to date. So together. And she won’t fall for any of my bullshit. She’s a grown-ass woman, not those easily impressed twentysomethings I been banging. She’s probably not into women. And if she was, why would it be me?

Mac turned to the window. She leaned closer to look down and watched as they flew over the Alps. Midnight blue lakes in dark green valleys peeked out between snow- tipped mountains. Dad would have loved this. Except he would have hit that asshole and we wouldn’t have been on the plane. She pushed away the melancholy nipping at her. Get a grip Mac. Why am I all up in my feelings? Tired. Fucking tired.

“Magnificent, isn’t it?” Lana’s husky morning voice at her shoulder made Mac jump and she banged her head on the window frame.

“Ow. Fuck.” And she laughed punchy from the lack of sleep and bone-deep weariness of travel.

Lana laughed with her. The clear heartfelt notes of her laughter filled an empty place in Mac she didn’t even know existed.

“Sorry to laugh.” Lana covered her mouth with her hand and fake frowned in a pitiful attempt to look serious before laughing so hard she snorted.

“Nah it’s okay. It was funny.” Mac rubbed her head and laughed with her. Both of them ignored the hard, ugly look from the rude woman Lana had traded seats with. Serve her right if I kissed Lana right now to fuck with her. No. That’s not why I want to kiss her. She’s beautiful and smart and funny. So much. And so not into me like that.

They passed the rest of the trip in easy talk and laughter, sharing the kind of intimate details that are so easy to share when you don’t ever expect to see a person again. The flight attendant made the landing announcements as they approached Malpensa and Mac wished the flight was longer.








Author Friends: Lindsay Detwiler

This week, I have author Lindsay Detwiler, another lovely Hot Tree Publishing author, in the hot seat.  Hope you enjoy.  And be sure to follow her on social media.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

A little of both. I usually outline my chapters very vaguely first, and then just see where the story takes me. When I get halfway through the book, I usually write the ending.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I sometimes get writer’s block, and, when it happens, I usually know I just need a creative break. If I’m on a deadline, I’ll push through and just make myself keep writing. Sometimes I get it between projects. When that happens, I’ll take some time off and catch up on reading, which tends to help me creatively. I like to write when I’m feeling passionate because I think that translates into better writing.

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over. 

I actually hate rereading books just because I always have so many different books I want to read. I love reading anything in the romance genre, though, and anything by Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes, or Nicholas Sparks. They’re my favorites.

 Describe your perfect writing space: 

My writing space isn’t so perfect… which is what I like. I write on my couch with my favorite blanket, some coffee, chocolate, and usually at least one cat.

 Do you write your title first or story first?

My title first! I always get it before I start writing page one.

 And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Snow swirled, blurring and whirring about, as the dog stood on the weathered deck. His huge paws plodded across, his black nose dotted with the fluffy white symbol of winter. Cold oozed through the cracks of the deck, past his panting mouth, into every crevice untouched. The first signs of winter were emerging, and the brindle mastiff couldn’t be happier. Tongue attempting to scrape up every last snowflake in what he obviously deemed a possible task, he leapt gleefully off the frozen deck into the blanketed snow, turning back to see if his trustworthy human was following him.

I beckoned from inside the door, the bitter wind whipping my hair back and reminding me that the true, utter coldness was here, underscored by the darkness of the December night. Still, in the midst of what I deemed a frozen hell, Henry dashed through the yard, seeing no darkness or coldness—but only the potential for sheer elation.

Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing, a high school English teacher, and a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post. She has eight sweet romances released. Her ninth work, All of You, releases January 27, 2018, and is currently available for preorder.

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Author Interview: M. R. Crawford

Do you argue with your characters? If so, who wins most frequently?

Oh gods yes, all the time!! They’re a strong headed lot, who ALWAYS want to do what THEY want to do. I think though, on balance, most of the time I win the arguments – after all, I’m the one holding the pen, right?

What makes a story interesting to you to write? How about to read?
I don’t think that there’s a separation here if I’m honest. I read and write stories for the same reasons – escapism. I like to be entertained by something different from what I see and experience every day. I read fantasy/horror and I write fantasy/horror. There’s no firm divide there at all.
How do you escape writer’s block?
In short, I don’t. If I feel like I’ve got nothing worthwhile to put on paper, I don’t even bother.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Read. Read read read and then read some more. Reading is good for increasing vocabulary skills and finding which ‘voice’ or writing style is the one for you.
What’s your writing fuel?
COFFEE!! I can’t function without it
The best joke you ever heard:
It’s pretty pathetic, but this one makes me laugh every time –
Gandhi walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

The Rapid Fire section:

Ink, Typewriter, Computer: Computer

Coffee, Tea, or Hard Liqour: Coffee

Hot, Cold or Warm: Cold

Cat, Dog or Bird: Cat

NC17, R or PG13: NC17

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