Today, I’m welcoming Linda Morris to the blog. She is a writer of contemporary romance. She writes stories with heart and heat, along with a joke or two thrown in. Her book Melting the Millionaire’s Heart was an Amazon Top 100 Series Romance bestseller. Its sequel, The Mason Dixon Line, released this month. Her vacation fling romance, Nice Work if You Can Get It, will be published by Swoon Romance in 2014.
When she’s not writing, working as a freelance editor, or mommying, she’s doing yoga, reading, working in her flower garden, or baking delicious things she probably shouldn’t eat. She believes that there are two kinds of people: pie people and cake people, and she is definitely one of the former. Her years of Cubs fandom prove she has a soft spot for a lost cause. A beat-up old copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind was her gateway drug into the world of romance novels, and she’s never looked back.
Enjoy my conversation with Linda and don’t miss The Mason Dixon Line free for a very short time exclusively at Amazon.com!
1. First romance you read?
Oh, that’s an easy one! Ashes in the Wind, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. My mom, who was a garage sale shopper, used to buy me any and every paperback she could find. I read some really weird books compared to the average seventh-grader, including some she would have no doubt vetoed had she looked at them very closely. Besides Ashes in the Wind, which had a few tame-by-today’s-standards love scenes that were nonetheless thrilling at the time, there was also Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castenada, which was basically a book about how Castenada went out to the desert, did a lot of drugs, and found enlightenment, or something. At least that’s what I think it was about. Ashes in the Wind was way more interesting.
2. When did you decide to sit down and write?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and started really putting down stories in high school. I attempted my first (dreadful) novel in college. I wrote short stories and various aborted novels in my twenties and then put it aside to build my career, get married, and start a family. After my son was born nine years ago, I quit my job to start freelance editing full-time, and when he was three and started preschool, I got serious about writing romance.
3. Favorite part of the writing process?
Revising. (I know, I’m weird.) Writing a first draft is a really painful process for me. I enjoy it some days when it’s going well, but all too often, it doesn’t go that well. The revision is where most of the fun stuff happens for me. I get the bones down on the first draft and make it come to life later in revision.
4. Your favorite character in your own books and why?
I have to say, Mason Dixon, the hero in the recently released The Mason Dixon Line, is my all-time favorite. He’s smart, creative, and hilarious, with a temper that gets him in trouble, but with a strong heart and an endless capacity for love. He has ADHD and dyslexia and was fiercely bullied as a kid, but it hasn’t broken him. It’s made him who he is.
5. Are your characters pretty much all fiction or are they based on people you know?
Funny you should ask! Very few of my characters are based on people I know, but Mason Dixon has a few things in common with both my husband and son, both of whom also have ADHD. I wouldn’t say he is “based” on them, because that makes the book sound autobiographical. Neither my husband or son were badly bullied, for example, thank God. But both of them have a strong tendency to march to their own drummer, and that spirit informs Mason very much.
6. Both of us are editors as well as writers, so I’m going to ask you a question that Anne Stuart asked me. Are there occupational hazards to being both a writer and an editor?
It has its advantages and disadvantages. Having solid mechanics is never a bad thing. I didn’t have to learn the fundamentals of grammar and style as many beginning writers do. On the other hand, being an editor of non-fiction (as I am) doesn’t teach you a thing about characters, narrative pacing, or point of view. In the beginning of my writing career, I probably patted myself on the back for my grammar skills too often and didn’t pay enough attention to those fundamentals of storytelling. I’m trying to rectify that now.
7. What book do you wish you’d written?
Oh, wow. Probably anything by Laura Kinsale. The Dream Hunter and Seize the Fire are my favorites. Absolutely top-notch storytelling, fantastic characters, and wonderful writing that never wanders over the top to become purple prose.
8. What’s the toughest criticism you’ve received as a writer? The best compliment?
I’m gotten a couple of pretty mean, ranty reviews from people who didn’t seem to have actually read the book, but I’m not counting those. I had a critique partner once tell me that my tendency to repeat the same thing again and again was boring her to death. Not a fun criticism to receive, but it was true, and being receptive to it did improve my writing.
My biggest compliment came from another critique partner, Elizabeth Otto, who fell in love with Mason Dixon almost as much as I did. She compared him to a Nora Roberts hero and said that he stuck with her for a very long time after she read it. That brought tears to my eyes.
9. What’s next for you?
I have a contemporary romance called Nice Work if You Can Get It coming out from Swoon Romance later in the year, and a contemporary novella called Just a Touch coming out from Samhain after that. Right now, I’m working on a series set on a minor-league small-town baseball team, and my agent will be shopping that around shortly.
Thanks so much for having me today, Nan! Readers can find me on the web at http://lindamorrisbooks.com/ or on Twitter at @LMorrisWriter. They can also Like my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Morris/130241710320644?ref=hl for updates and news.
Blurb from The Mason Dixon Line:
Carolyn Hart has excelled at one thing her whole life: looking good. She has the beauty and style to turn heads. But making her own way in the world turns out to be a lot tougher than getting elected homecoming queen. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life, her credit card balance is becoming self-aware, and her love life is DOA. And now her boss at Horizons, a school for kids with special needs, has given her an unwelcome assignment: to work with a cartoonist to create a kids’ book as a fundraiser for the school.
Former troubled kid Mason Dixon would do anything for the aunt who took him in after his parents gave up on him. But when he offers to illustrate a kids’ book as a fundraiser for her pet cause, he winds up taking on way more than he bargained for. The gorgeous teacher’s aide he’s assigned to work with challenges him at every turn and makes him wonder if there’s any line he won’t cross for her.