Here’s Linda Morris, ready for some Straight Talk!
When you are getting ready to start a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
Cry. Have a panic attack. Think, “There’s no way I can pull this off again.” Then I take a deep breath, calm myself down, and start working on a character chart.
How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?
I really don’t have a special ritual or anything that I do. Mostly, I’m just wildly relieved that the book didn’t tip over and die 70 pages in. My family and I usually go out to dinner to celebrate a sale.
Have you had any fun fan moments since you became a writer?
I had a pretty awesome fangirl moment when I noticed that Laura Kinsale had followed me on Twitter. I’ve been reading and worshiping Laura Kinsale since I was a teenager, so that was a heady moment. My notion of what it would be like if I ever met Laura Kinsale is this: Remember that old SNL skit where Chris Farley got to interview Paul McCartney, and the whole time, he was totally awestruck. He said all these dumb things like, “Remember that time you were in the Beatles? Wasn’t that AWESOME?” and Paul just sat there looking bemused. That would be me meeting Laura Kinsale. “Remember that time you wrote ‘The Hidden Heart,’ and it was AWESOME?”
Do you usually begin a book with a character or a plot?
Character. In fact, my path to publication got a lot smoother when I finally figured out that most books actually need a plot. Who knew? You can’t just have people eating dinner together, talking over their feelings and exchanging witty banter the whole time. (Well, maybe some people can write a good book like that, but not me.) But making a goal/motivation/conflict chart for my main characters helps me to think about plot in a character-driven way, which makes it easier for me. If I started out with plot, I’d never be interested enough in my characters to actually write the book.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests you’d care to share?
Oh, I have the typical mom hobbies, I guess. I read, do yoga, work in my flower garden, and bake. Due to my son’s Lego obsession, I’ve also gotten pretty good at those.
What was the inspiration for your book?
If you’ve read MELTING THE MILLIONAIRE’S HEART, you know it’s set against the backdrop of a school for kids with special needs. My son has ADHD but does very well in a traditional public school. I visit a lot of online support groups for kids with special needs, however, and many parents aren’t so lucky. It’s phenomenal what some parents and kids have to go through to find an environment where their kids can thrive. Horizons is based on some of the schools I learned about at those sites: private schools that take the kids that have failed in traditional classrooms, in special education, and in homeschooling.
How difficult is if for you to come up with a title for your books?
Very. Actually, I didn’t come up with the title for MELTING THE MILLIONAIRE’S HEART. It was originally called WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE? after the jazz standard of that name, and because the story takes place on New Year’s Eve. The song also plays a key role in the story, playing during a pivotal moment in Kayla and Ryan’s relationship. My editors wanted the millionaire trope in the title, so we batted around ideas for a while until we settled on this one. I like that it hints at the snowed-in setting with the “melting” reference.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read and write. Find a good critique partner (which is not always easy) and listen to their feedback. You want the right person who can be honest and tell you what is wrong with your story, but also who basically likes and values your work and wants to help you make it better. If you’re writing say, historicals, don’t work with someone who is “meh” on them and wouldn’t like your story much even if it was the best one ever written. Also, although reading craft books, attending workshops, and taking classes can all be helpful, none of those takes the place of actually sitting down to write on a regular basis.
What jobs have you had on your way to becoming a writer?
Oh, let’s see. Airline employee, editor, freelance writer, cat juggler . . . okay, one of those things is not true. I still work as a freelance editor on a nearly full-time basis.
Did you have any interesting experiences when you were researching your book, or getting it published?
I had heard some encouraging noises from Entangled after I submitted the story, but nothing definite. I was getting nervous because most publishers’ deadlines for holiday stories were drawing near. If Entangled ended up passing on it, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to submit the story elsewhere. So I submitted it to another publisher, and it was accepted within two days! But I sooo wanted to sell it to Entangled because their business model is so fantastic. I emailed Entangled, told them I’d had an offer from elsewhere, and the editor emailed me back within five minutes to tell me my book was in the final stages of the acquisition process! So that’s definitely the first time I’ve ever had two publishers vying for one of my stories. When I got the news, I may have had a little trouble breathing. And I may have burst into song. Those two things might have been related, actually.
Do you prefer print books or eBooks?
Oh, don’t make me choose. For my favorite books, I want them in print so that I can hold them in my hand, show them off on my bookshelf, and admire the cover, if they have a good one. I love the feel of a well-bound book in my hands, and nothing beats getting lost in the aisles of a good bookstore. Every row seems so full of promise. Yet ebooks offer instant gratification and the ability to track down out-of-print titles from the past, or more obscure “niche” books that probably would never made it to print. I think they both have their place.
What’s in the works for you?
I have a romantic crime caper called By Hook or By Crook coming out in April, and I’m finishing up a category length contemporary romance. With any luck, it’ll be coming to an ereader near you very soon.
About Melting the Millionaire’s Heart:
Special-needs teacher Kayla Johnston writes off any shot at New Year’s Eve romance when she’s summoned to a fundraising event for her school at the remote estate of a wealthy would-be-donor. But when a massive snowstorm hits and Kayla careens off the road, the sexy stranger who rescues her brings to mind cozy fireplaces and steamy midnight kisses…among other things.
Reclusive entrepreneur Ryan Langford may be missing his own fundraiser, but being marooned in a cabin with Kayla beats ducking a room full of people after his money any day. Too bad she’s so irritated with the ” gazillionaire” who ruined her New Year’s Eve that he feels like he has to lie about his identity. But when the sparks fly and they fall into each other’s arms, Ryan knows he’s made a big mistake. Will she be able to trust him once the snow melts and the truth comes out?
Title: Melting the Millionaire’s Heart
Author: Linda Morris
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 92 pages
Release Date: December 2012
Imprint: Ever After
Oooooh, fantastic interview! Linda, you’ve sold me on your writing based on your ability to respond with such humor and wit. Congratulations on that yummy, yummy book of yours. (LOVE the title, btw. The brainstorming was a WIN!)