The Mistress of Pennington's Tour

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Welcome Intermix (Berkley) author, Linda Morris...

Hi, Linda! It's great to welcome a fellow Blue Ridge Agency author to my blog - hope you're well. I'm looking forward to catching up with you and learning more about your latest release, SCREWBALL! Let's kick off with my questions...

1.)          What was your first job? Did you like or dislike it? Why?

I was a Sizzler salad bar girl. (Sizzler was kind of a low-end steakhouse chain in the US at the time, the 1980s.) My job involved washing and slicing vegetables, wiping down the salad bar, and refilling the bar and the salad dressings. Once, for no extra charge, I poured an entire quart of French salad dressing on a customer's leg, by accident, of course. No, I don't think I liked the job very much. I'm sure that customer didn't like me very much.

2.)          Do you have a pet peeve? If so what is it?

Customers who put their legs in my way when I'm trying to pour salad dressing. Just kidding! One of my traffic pet peeves is people who spend forever backing into a parking space even though they can see that I'm waiting to pass. For heaven's sake, just pull in forward like a normal person!

3.)          Would you describe your style as shabby chic, timeless elegance, eclectic, country or ___­­­_?

I'd call it "early twentieth-century hobo." Okay, not really. In the winter, I wear a lot of jeans, ankle boots, and sweaters, in the summer, a lot of light, casual dresses and sandals. I love Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers and I hate pantyhose and high heels. I always paint my toes and never my fingernails. I like jewel tones and avoid pastels.

4.)          Tell me about your book SCREWBALL and where you got your inspiration for it?

SCREWBALL is the second in my HARD HITTERS series, a book based on a fictional small-town minor league baseball team in the US. All of the titles are baseball puns. HIGH HEAT, the first book, is named after a high, fast pitch. A screwball is a ball that takes an odd, curving trajectory in the air. I was inspired to write it partly because I love baseball, and partly because I got frustrated seeing the totally unrealistic depictions of small-town USA in most romance novels. Plainview, Indiana, is a little more realistic, I think.

5.)          Who is your role model? Why?

Huh, interesting question. I don't think I have one. I like to forge my own way.

6.)          How much of your book is realistic?

Aha! See above. I think the setting is realistic, and I did a lot of research into minor league baseball to give that part authenticity. I love books that take me into another world I don't know well, so I wanted to write one. Whether the love story and its happy ever after ending is realistic depends on your point of view, but I think so.

7.)          What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Many of them have come true. At this point, I want to keep writing books, getting them out there for people to read, and developing a fan following that wants to read the kind of stories I want to write.

8.)          Share one fact about yourself that would surprise people.

Chris Isaak once pulled me out of the crowd to dance onstage at his concert. It was just like when Bruce Springsteen pulled Courtney Cox out of the crowd to dance in his "Dancing in the Dark" video, except I'm not quite as glamorous as Courtney Cox. (Chris Isaak compares favorably to Bruce Springsteen, though, in my opinion.) Fun fact: My future husband, whom I did not know yet, was in the audience with his girlfriend at the time. He watched his future wife dance with a rock star and didn't even know it!

Paul Dudley, president of the Plainview Thrashers, is spinning out of control. Preserving his family's baseball legacy in these tough times takes everything he's got, and constant clashes with his father have left him struggling for authority over the team and even his own future. So when sports reporter Willow Bourne, a one-night-stand from a year ago, walks back into his life, he knows he can’t give into his feelings for her—no matter how strong they are.
Willow never expected to see Paul again, and she’s got her reasons for keeping her distance. Except the more time she spends around Paul, the harder it is to hide her secrets—or stop herself from falling head over heels.
As the sparks between them fly, Paul discovers what Willow has been concealing from him, leaving him with a difficult choice—keep the team his top priority or make his own legacy by following his heart...

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“Come on. My treat.” Kendra squeezed her hand. “You need a pick-me-up.”
“Not sure a twelve-dollar cocktail is going to solve my problems, but thanks for the thought.”
“Come on, hon. Give yourself a chance to cheer up.” Kendra led the way through the crowd.
The two women got plenty of looks as they moved through the nightclub. Usually, leers from guys she didn’t know creeped Willow out, but not tonight. Tonight, they were a boost to her badly battered ego.
They entered a long hallway with large leather-lined booths separated by wispy white curtains. Crimson velvet wallpaper lit with colored lights made for a trippy effect.
“We’re in the booth at the end,” Kendra said.
The two slid into the booth and Willow scanned the drink menu. “Ten bucks for something called a Sazerac?” She couldn’t afford this place. Not that she could afford any place, considering that she had lost her job and was living on savings, unemployment checks, and an occasional assist from her parents. Whee! She was twenty-five and on top of the world.
“Don’t get it. It tastes like lighter fluid with sugar in it.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Duly noted.”
A loud yell from the booth across the hall caught her attention. A raucous group of guys, young and mostly good-looking, was flirting with their waitress. Without meaning to, Willow caught the gaze of one of the guys: Quiet. A little older than the rest. An island of intensity amid the liquored-up party people.
He has nice eyes.
She didn’t want to notice anything about a guy right now, but his eyes asked to be admired. They were equal parts gray and blue, bearing an expression she recognized because her face had worn it so often recently. The stranger wore the look of someone trying to hide something—but what? Sadness? No, more like discontent. He wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
She ordered a beer and drank half of it before she had the courage to let her eyes wander in the man’s direction again.
He was still watching her.
Her stomach tightened, but she couldn’t have said whether from excitement or unease. She raised a brow, determined not to look away this time. His lips curved, and the sight took her breath away. He didn’t smile easily, she could tell. It looked like a reluctant one at best, but it lightened the shadow in his eyes.
The easy feeling lasted until he rose and walked toward her. Her pulse erupted.
Get ahold of yourself. He’s a guy in a bar. What’s he going to do to you?
He walked right up, never glancing at Kendra, only at her.
“Hi.” Her voice came out calmer than she felt, thank God.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
A standard line she’d heard a hundred times. So why did it send a shiver of anticipation down the back of her neck when he said it?
She gestured to her beer. “Got one already.”
“I see.” He nodded, not letting that half-quirk of a smile disappear. “Then, in that case, I have no choice but to ask you to dance.”
She shot an apologetic glance at Kendra, who beamed and shooed her off. Willow slipped her hand into his and followed his broad shoulders through the VIP area and back to the dance floor.
“My name’s Paul.”
“Willow,” he repeated.
She liked the way her name sounded on his lips.
“It’s a pretty name for a pretty girl.”
Another phrase she’d heard before, but he made it sound new.

Linda Morris is a writer of contemporary romance, including Melting the Millionaire’s Heart, The Mason Dixon Line, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. She writes stories with heart and heat, along with a joke or two thrown in. Her years of Cubs fandom prove she has a soft spot for a lost cause.

Social links:
Twitter: @LDMorrisWriter

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