Happy Sunday, everybody. Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming writer buddy and amazing contemporary romance Linda Morris! Linda has a new book out called THE MASON DIXON LINE and she’s agreed to hang out for a bit to chat about it. So let’s get to it, shall we?
Tell us a little about your writing background. How did you get into writing contemporary romance?
Hi, Jim! Thanks for having me on Sleep In Sunday. I don’t usually actually get to sleep in on most Sundays, but it’s nice to be on your blog anyway. Really, writing is the only career I ever wanted to have, and romance is the only genre I seriously considered writing because that’s what I read. I actually read a lot of historical, though, so many of my first attempts at writing a romance went in that direction. My books always seemed to tip over and die about 70 pages in, and the voice just didn’t come very naturally to me. I did publish one historical novella, a western, but something really clicked for me when I started writing contemporary funny romance. I had to try and fail at most of the other subgenres before I figured that out, though.
The Mason Dixon Line has some rather unique characters. Where do you get your story ideas from in general and for this story in particular?
I really can’t answer that in general. I get my best ideas while writing and if I try to plot out a story in detail before I start, it always falls flat. But this book is a sequel to my book Melting the Millionaire’s Heart, which is set against the backdrop of a private school for kids with special needs. In that book, the special-needs theme is not central to the story, but I wanted to write a book where it was. Mason Dixon is an artist with ADHD and dyslexia who has very bitter memories of school, and that allowed me to write about those issues more dyslexia. While researching this story, I read up on Dav Pilkey, author and artist behind the Captain Underpants kids’ books. He has dyslexia and (in my opinion) ADHD, although he doesn’t like that term. His painful yet hilarious memories of school were a real inspiration for this story.
Children, and adults, with special needs are a huge part of this story. As a parent of a special needs child myself, I applaud you for including these issues in the story. Can you tell us a little about what your motivation was behind that?
My initial reason for writing about special-needs kids is that I have a nine-year-old son with ADHD and a sprinkling of other issues such as a sensory processing disorder. (Most people with ADHD have other conditions as well. It rarely travels alone, so to speak. That’s why I chose to give Mason dyslexia too.) My husband also has ADHD but was not diagnosed until he was forty. Mason is sort of a blend of my husband, son, and Dav Pilkey: all of them smart, funny, creative guys who nonetheless struggled with some aspects of traditional schooling. My son, for example, is a math whiz who tests off the charts and barely requires any instruction to get a new math concept, but will lose his homework at school before he can turn it in and wind up getting a zero on it.
This is your first self-published novel. After having a number of your works published traditionally, tell me about experiences of wading into the world of self-publishing.
It’s been interesting. I think I’ve benefitted from having been published traditionally first. I’ve learned a lot about editing and promotion that I’m now applying to my self-pubbed book. I like the creative freedom and the ability to make a story whatever length it needs to be. (Most publishers have pretty strict word count requirements.) It is a lot of work, however. There’s no one to help you out with promotion, cover design, or anything else!
What’s next for you?
I have a vacation fling story called Nice Work if You Can Get It coming from Swoon Romance in 2014, and a novella coming from Samhain later in the year as well. I’m also working on a series about a minor league baseball team and it has landed me my first agent. I’m hoping to find a publishing home for that this year as well.
Is writing your full-time job, or do you have a “day job” to go along with your story-telling?
I do have a day job! I’m a full-time freelance project editor, mostly of For Dummies books. I work from home. Besides being able to wear yoga pants every day, it also gives me flexibility to work my fiction writing into my life and be home when my son comes home from school, which is nice.
What do you like to read? Got any recommendations for us?
For lovers of sweet romance, I’d recommend Fallen Star by Jim Cangany, for starters. *wink* As far as historical romance goes, I’m a big fan of Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series, and Jeannie Lin’s Asian-set historicals.
You’re a wife, mother and author. What do you do to keep a little sanity in your life?
Sanity? What’s that? Seriously, it does seem in short supply sometimes. I make time for walking and reading, but I have to admit, I log a lot of hours on my laptop. I’m trying to learn to manage that better, actually, because I’m not sure how many more seven-day workweeks my sanity can take!
What’s your all-time favorite book?
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I just finished a re-read and I never fail to love it.
Anything else you want to say before we go?
Thanks so much for having me, Jim! If readers want to stay in touch, they can follow me on Twitter (@LMorrisWriter) or Like my author page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Morris/130241710320644?ref=hl). I can also be found on the web at www.lindamorrisbooks.com. Enjoy the excerpt!
Excerpt from THE MASON DIXON LINE
Mason should never have agreed to this. He and the educational system had never gotten along.
The girl — what was her name? Carol? Caroline — shifted her cup to her left hand and stuck her right out. He took it, more out of habit than anything else. It was soft, and still warm from where the heat of her cup had penetrated her skin.
He let go, not wanting to get too comfortable touching her.
“I’m actually a teacher’s aide, not a teacher.”
Whatever. Teacher, aide, same difference to him. She was the enemy, even if she had soft, warm hands and the kind of perfect bone structure you expected to see on a comic-book illustration. The kind of bone structure his pencil would love to sketch, even though it would be a challenge to capture the combination of sensuality and attitude she carried.
Mason loved a challenge.
They took their seats in silence.
As he always did when he spotted an interesting face, he pulled a sketch pad and a drawing pencil out of his bag and went to work.
She watched in silence for a few moments until the first lines on the page began to take shape.
“You’re drawing me?” She sounded surprised.
“Yeah. You mind?”
“No, I guess not. I’m Carolyn Hart, by the way.”
Carolyn Hart. He let the name roll around in his brain for a minute and wondered how it might sound on his tongue. The name sounded like a spunky heroine from one of those old comic strips with a single woman as the lead character, back when that was a novelty. Mary Worth. Juliet Jones. Lu Ann Powers in Apartment 3-G.
And here’s a quick blurb for 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.
Thanks for stopping by folks, and until next time, tailwinds!
You can find The Mason Dixon Line at Amazon right here: