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Melissa Ferguson | A Book for Lovers of Sitcoms and Romcoms

How to Plot a Payback
Melissa Ferguson




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April 2024
On Sale: April 2, 2024
Featuring: Finn Masters
320 pages
ISBN: 0840702914
EAN: 9780840702913
Kindle: B0CD3QM2Y4
Paperback / e-Book
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Also by Melissa Ferguson:
How to Plot a Payback, April 2024
Famous for a Living, May 2023
On the Way to Christmas, October 2022
Meet Me in the Margins, February 2022


1--What is the title of your latest release?


2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

In this book for lovers of sitcoms and romcoms, Lavender Rhodes has been unintentionally muddling Finn Masters’ plans for years---now he's the writer for the beloved character she plays on television, and it's time for payback.


3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

It was chosen for me, given Lavender Rhodes is one of the stars of the nation’s beloved sitcom, Neighbors, and Finn is a writer for the show. LA was the logical spot.


4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?

Oh absolutely. Both Finn and Lavender were wonderfully down to earth, as you’ll see as the plot thickens. I’d love to find myself in an LA dog park on a warm Saturday afternoon with them, chasing around their wild and crazy pets with coffee swinging.


5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?

For Finn, he is kind-hearted (despite his best efforts not to be), loyal, and intelligent.

For Lavender, she is optimistic, merciful, and steady.


6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

My editor tried to convince me to poke holes in Lavender’s character in edits, and while I understood her reasons why, Lavender was the person I wrote on page. This was authentically her and to change those details, felt like it made her into someone else entirely. I’m glad I kept her as is, because while she is absolutely a little more “supermanish” in her demeanor, I think there is a place for those occasional supermans in our stories. I admire her way of taking the higher ground. I was reminded in writing the story and watching the way Lavender reacted to things of how I too should react to things. How I too should set my priorities. How I too should let the bad things roll off my shoulders and move forward with my chin held high and spirit bright.

I think Lavender reminds me of the important lesson that you cannot control the people, and often situations, around you; you can only control your reaction. You can control what you are going to do with the situation. And even though it’s hard, choosing joy, forgiving others, and moving forward is ultimately what’s going to be best for your mental health and life.


7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

Oh I definitely wait until I’m done. I learned early on that if I pause to go backward and edit, I get out of the zone and have to mentally start all over. My first manuscript took me four years to write (and was never published). My books now take 6-9 months (in the first draft, it’s another 3 months in edits between all the editors and myself).

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

Probably sticky rice with mango and shaved peanuts from a Thai restaurant. This is my favorite dessert!

9--Describe your writing space/office!

Anywhere and everywhere. I remember Stephen King saying something about writing on a washing machine in his early days, and then about how he used to have a massive writing desk in a private room later on, and how eventually he left the big private room and fancy desk and just dropped a desk in his living room because he wanted to be around people (*don’t take my word for all that though, my memory may get some details flipped).

But I am that way as well. I write on a couch in the toy room where my children are. I write in the glasshouse beside my chickens. I write on my lap while my feet soak in a tub. I write behind the steering wheel while my youngest daughter is asleep in the car seat behind me.  I write anywhere.

10--Who is an author you admire?

I am perpetually impressed by CS Lewis. I have yet to find anyone with the same gift of insight and ways of putting those insights on the page.

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis, alongside The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and his incredibly well-known Mere Christianity.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.

Well, How to Plot a Payback is actually my eighth published book since 2019-- when The Dating Charade released. But as for the very first time I got a contract, that was a really exciting time (it’s actually always exciting, but I think this was the most exciting). I went to a writer’s conference and met with the man who would become my agent while there. At the time I had another manuscript that publishers were talking with me about, but I was also finishing up The Dating Charade as well. After years and years of rejections I had finally begun taking to heart the message of: just keep writing. Write the next book. I had spent years clinging to the first manuscript I had spent four years writing and trying to sell that one. Finally, I switched genres to romcom and wrote a second book. And while a few very small publishers began to show interest, I wrote a third book (what would become The Dating Charade).

Months after the conference, I got a small offer of a two-book deal from a sweet but tiny publisher. Thankfully the editor who wanted to acquire it was someone I had met at the conference months prior and befriended, and she was incredibly kind when I candidly told her that another publisher, Thomas Nelson, had taken my third book through a few of the stages of acquisitions. Against my then agent’s advice, who said a bird in hand is worth two in the bush, I held off accepting her contract and asked her if she could wait until I hear back from Thomas Nelson. She was incredibly gracious is saying yes (I owe her so much here).

A few weeks went by. I had a call with everyone on the Thomas Nelson team. I fretted that the small publisher would rescind their offer.

And then at last, Thomas Nelson sent me a three-book deal offer, and at a much higher rate. I was ecstatic. Beyond ecstatic.

And here I am, eight books later with them!


13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

Children’s books, ha. I actually am in the middle of a contract with Tommy Nelson for my own children’s book, and absolutely cannot wait. I have four young children and we are constantly reading (they are reading next to me right now).

14--What’s your favorite movie?

You’ve Got Mail (close second: Two Weeks Notice)

15--What is your favorite season?


16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

I love to have themed parties with family and friends. I have done several murder mystery parties and love them.

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

Unfortunately, I’m about 20 years behind everyone else so what I love tends to be ancient. In this case, I love watching Frasier!

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Thai---I particularly love vegetarian massaman curry and sticky rice dessert with mango.

19--What do you do when you have free time?

My favorite activity is simply walking—especially in nature. Thankfully we live in an area where we get to do this a lot. I’m even in a homeschool hiking group that meets weekly and it’s been wonderful!

20--What can readers expect from you next?

Well they can continue to see me sharing about chickens and breadmaking and gardening and a cottage core style life with my kiddos on my Instagram and Tiktok, and from my books they’ll continue to see sweet romcoms coming out with the nostalgic You’ve Got Mail vibes. Happy reading!

HOW TO PLOT A PAYBACK by Melissa Ferguson

How to Plot a Payback

He crossed an ocean, and it still wasn't enough to escape his lifelong nemesis. Now he has to work with her.

Successful screenwriter Finn Masters just landed his dream job writing for Neighbors, one of Hollywood's highest-rated, longest-running sitcoms. The only downside? It will put him back in proximity of the show's universally adored, optimistic, altruistic star, Lavender Rhodes, who has been inadvertently ruining his life since they were school chums in England. But she doesn't even know she destroyed his acting career and wrecked his relationship with the love of his life.

He's not about to let this woman yank yet another dream out from under his feet. In fact, he realizes he's been given the ideal opportunity to plot his payback: spinning her character in shocking new directions.

What could go wrong? Only everything. As Finn's not-so-brilliant plot backfires one scene after the next, catching him in the blasts, he's forced to think about this impossible, infuriating... and maybe even lovable woman in an entirely new light.

Bestselling author Melissa Ferguson is back with a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the stars.


Romance Comedy [Thomas Nelson, On Sale: April 2, 2024, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780840702913 / eISBN: 9780840702999]

Buy HOW TO PLOT A PAYBACKAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Melissa Ferguson

Melissa Ferguson

Melissa Ferguson is the bestselling author of titles including Meet Me in the MarginsThe Dating Charade, and The Cul-de-Sac War. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children in their growing farmhouse lifestyle and writes heartwarming romantic comedies that have been featured in such places as The Hollywood ReporterTravel + LeisureWoman’s World, and BuzzFeed.





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