Everything’s bigger in Texas and author Stephanie Morris, a native Texan is no exception! Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas this graduate of Angelo State University, from which she obtained a bachelors degree in Psychology and a masters in business administration, is one of the biggest names in African American, multicultural and interracial romance.
Haven’t heard of Stephanie Morris (which I highly doubt)? Then I suggest you add this talented author to your to-buy list. Like yesterday!
You won’t be sorry! Ms. Morris titles consistently make the publisher’s bestseller’s lists and her awards include the ARe Bestseller List for “Better Late Than Never”, “Cutting To The Chase”, “Laws of Attraction”, “Beyond Seduction” and “Staking His Claim” as well as Recommended Read Awards from Coffee Time Romance Reviews, Dark Diva Reviews and Night Owl Romance Reviews.
Bestselling and award-winning author aside, Ms. Morris consistently writes great stories that keep her readers coming back time and time again. In turn, its Ms. Morris’ readers who keep her motivated to keep plugging away at her craft.
“First and foremost my main influence would be my readers. I enjoy the feedback regarding the stories that I love to create and I am happy to continue to provide them. They keep me motivated to write. My mom is also my biggest supporter when it comes to my writing, even if she has to skip over the steamy sex scenes.
“If I had to choose my author influences, they would definitely be Brenda Jackson and Beverly Jenkins. As a reader I started enjoying their work a long time ago. I appreciated their craft and they truly made me want to accomplish my dream and become a part of the publishing industry.”
Like most writers, Ms. Morris didn’t fall into the publishing industry by accident. However, there is one aspect of her her career that was purely accidental.
“I started out as an author of sensual romance. My stories were hot and steamy, but not edgy enough to be erotic. The next thing I know my characters started saying we want it hotter. While I currently only have three or four books that can truly be considered erotic romance, more are on the horizon. I am totally looking forward to it.
“My first novella was Better Late Than Never and it was published by Amira Press back in 2009. This book is about second chances. While I have to admit that I am not a big fan of second chances myself, every once in a while there comes a time when giving someone a second chance might just be worth doing.
“The one thing I love about Better Late Than Never was that it taught me a lot about the world of publishing. My craft has definitely grown since that novel but I will never forget where I started.”
Curious as to her carefully-planned road to publishing, I asked Ms. Morris were there any surprises along the way.
“There have been a few surprises about the publishing industry. The main thing is that you quickly realize that there is more to the entire process than you think. I was one of those people under the impression that it takes less work to create an e-book. Boy was I wrong! It takes just a much work and maybe a little more. You have to market your e-book a little differently than you a print book. Fortunately I feel that I have become good at doing both.
“You also find out which publishing companies to avoid. The publishing world is a very small one. News travels down the grapevine very fast. This can be helpful to both new and seasoned authors.
“My route into publishing was pretty simple. I think because I came up with a plan of what I wanted to do before I did it. I found a few publishers that I would be interested in, spoke with a few of their current authors and went from there.”
Ms. Morris methodical approach to her craft is admirable. The best advice I’ve ever received from a fellow writer is if you ever want to make a name for yourself or a living off what you do, you should approach writing “as a profession and not a hobby”. And Ms. Morris seems to really exemplify this mindset and its served her well considering her strong following and book sales.
Stephanie’s disciplined approach to her career is also reflected in her writing style. “I am a serious plotter. Not to the point where I complete one of those 25 page character survey’s that I have seen floating around the internet, but enough to know who the characters are and what their story is. I am one of those people who has to know what the plan is so that I can figure out how I want to get there.
“As far as how long it takes me to complete a book it depends on how much brainstorming and research are required for the book. This is typically why I write contemporary stories about topics I am familiar with or that I have research resources readily available if needed. With this being said, I have written a complete book in 2-3 months and some have taken up to 6 months to complete.”
And Stehanie’s approach seems to work well for her. In the span of three short years, she’s released more than twenty titles. Wondering how she makes it look so easy, I asked her what a typical day in Stephanie Morris’, author extraordinaire was like.
“An average day for me is so hectic that sometimes it is a wonder that I haven’t gone insane. I actually write full-time. At least 30-40 hours a week, but I do side projects to keep from becoming too monotonous.
“Typically I wake up early in the morning, take my dog Rocky for a walk. Come back home, take a look at my to-do list for the day. It could consist of anything from book edits to promotional stuff, and anything in between. There are days when I don’t even make it out of my pajamas, but that suits me just fine. The good thing is that I have a job that I truly love, so very rarely is it a hardship to do it.”
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that her expereinces so far as a published author have been great!
“The best thing is doing something that I love. Even if I weren’t published I would still write because I love to do it. I wrote for many years for my own pleasure before I decided to attempt to get published. Writing is in my blood. I look forward to a long writing career.
“Trying to meet everyone’s demands is probably the worst thing about being a writer. I often get requests from my publishers to submit something to them. Some of my readers send me emails with request for certain plots/storylines or follow-up on characters. I won’t even mention the characters that demand to have their story told. In spite of being pulled in so many directions I still love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
When asked why she chose to write multicultural/interracial romance, Morris responded simply, “I don’t think I chose the genre. The genre chose me. Literally. When I decided that I wanted to get published I chose to go with the indie market. My goal was to get my feet wet to see if this was what I really wanted to do. So I submitted my first book and was rejected. So I submitted to another publisher and rejected again, and again, and again. It was frustrating.
“Why? My story was not being rejected because it wasn’t a good story or because it was horribly written. No, it was being rejected because the story contained an African American hero and heroine. I was told numerous times that African American novels don’t sell well with indie publishers. I was shocked!
My “ah-ha” moment came when a publisher told me, that I had a strong creative voice and would I consider submitting work for their interracial imprint. I almost fell over. Not because I didn’t have interracial work, but because I did. I had tons of it. I am an equal opportunity dater so when I write my stories my male character often determines what his nationality will be. The most important thing to me when I create a story is to create a great story, regardless of the race or color of the character’s skin. This is why race is never the most important issue in any of my stories. For the most part race is never even mentioned.
:So I told the publisher yes. I went back to my stockpile and began to clean up some of my interracial books to submit. You know how the rest of the story goes.
:However, I am happy to say that the story that was rejected time and time again was finally published in 2010. The title is Hard to Resist which I not only think is appropriate for the storyline but for the book itself.”
Does she have any pet peeves regarding the recent explosion in the IR/MC genre?
“I love the fact that the interracial/multicultural genre is getting more recognition. It deserves it.
:I hate that more people are doing it without doing adequate research or writing character’s that are based on racial stereotypes or just plan unrealistic. Nothing is more irritating than reading a story about an African American female who rolls her eyes and neck so much that she is one neck roll away from a neck brace and one eye roll away from her eyes being stuck in the back of her head. Nothing will make me put a book down faster.
:Even worse is someone who gets cultural practices/beliefs incorrect. In some cultures it is unacceptable to date out of one’s race. Yet stories are written where that family will instantly embrace the person without any issue upon meeting them.
:Again, I am glad that the interracial/multicultural genre is expanding and getting more recognition. I definitely plan to continue to do my part.”
As you can probably tell from her passionate response regarding the interracial/multicultural genre, one of Ms. Morris’ motivations for writing interracial romance comes from personal experience. So I had to ask if any of her story lines are a reflection of her personal life or if she’d ever featured a real life person in any of her books.
“Life experiences often come into play within my writing as well. I often share childhood stories of actual occurrences between my siblings and myself. I also take real-life occurrences and turn them into stories but always provide a little twist to them, since not all of these stories have ended happily in real life.
“In fact, My series That One Night is actually based on experiences that a group of my friends and I have gone through.
“I enjoy taking real-life occurrences and turn them into stories but always provide a little twist to them, since not all of these stories have ended happily in real life.”
Speaking of real life, I asked Ms. Morris how she approaches her love scenes. There’s a common and sometimes not entirely misguided opinion out there that romance authors attempt every single love scene we put down in print.
“In my opinion creating the sex scene is the best part about the book. I won’t say it’s effortless but I give it my all. I rarely turn on music to write the scenes, but sometimes I read sex advice columns to get fresh ideas on places for my characters to become intimate.
“One of my favorite books where I really think I took it there was Long, Slow Surrender. Michelle and Connor have a very intimate scene in a city park and another one at an amusement park on a panoramic wheel. Needless to say I received so many emails about the scenes in that book that I knew I had done something right.
“Another book that I feel like I took it to another level was Caught Up in the Moment. The kitchen scene between Teagan and Jonas had readers emailing me for weeks. Some of them were quite tickled by my response when asked how I came up with it. I actually created that scene while in my mother’s kitchen (yes, by myself). However, my mother did walk in while I was posing on island different ways to see what would actually physically work for the scene. She was appalled when I told her why I stretched out on her kitchen island (fully clothed, of course).
“In my most recent release, Compromising Position, there is a scene that involves rope and a four poster bed that might leave you fanning yourself and reaching for a glass of ice water.
“Bottom line is no one likes bad sex. (AMEN!) So when I write my sex scenes I want to readers to get to the end of it and feel just as satisfied as the heroine is.”
If you’re wondering when Ms. Morris’ next offering will be, you don’t have to wait! She has a three recent releases that she’s really excited about.
“Unfinished Business is the third book in the Indulgence series, with Siren-BookStrand. This is Carlo and Daníella’s story. I am really excited about this story because my readers begged for it after reading the first two books in this series. I felt it only right to give the readers what they asked for.
“The second release is Compromising Position, the first book in the Guilty Pleasures series, with Amira Press. I am excited about this series because it is quite different from what I usually do. This series will be connected by theme and not the characters. What is the theme? Well, four women decide to take a very risky chance on Mr. Wrong only to realize that he just might be Mr. Right.
“The last upcoming release is Her Private Pleasure, the second book in the That One night series, with Phaze. I am tickled pink about Lani and Rogan’s story. Why? Because Rogan is H-O-T and he has a very interesting tattoo that plays a really important part in the story. I can’t wait for this book to hit the shelves!”
According to Ms. Morris, she will also release books two and three in the Morning After series as well as book two in the Guilty Pleasures series in 2012. “I am also working on book number three in the Guilty Pleasures series as well as two single title stories. So there will be plenty to look out for. You can always visit my website to find out more.”
The Fast Five
Five fun questions that delve a little deeper into who Stephanie Morris really is…
Since we have a major holiday coming up, what is your favorite Holiday? Why?
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It is usually a busy holiday for me because I am splitting it between my maternal and paternal sides of the family, but it is the one holiday that always seems to remind me of everything that I have to be thankful for. I also love to cook so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for the Thanksgiving holiday.
House in the Mountains, Adobe in the Desert or Beach House?
Definitely a beach house! I am a water sign and water soothes me. I often listen to my water sounds CD or therapeutic water fountain while I write. The screen saver on my computer is a photo of the ocean. Also when I go on vacation, I also try to choose a tropical location with lots of water. So I would be right at home on the beach, relaxing and penning the stories that I love to create.
Out on the town with your girlfriends or a quiet dinner party at home?
I would prefer a quiet dinner party at home. I’m definitely more of an introvert and prefer familiar surroundings with people I know. So I can definitely see myself inviting the girls over for a quiet dinner, which they would love since I would cook.
Flowers or Chocolate?
Flowers! Hands down. Sterling Roses are my favorite followed by orchids. I am not a fan of chocolate. So if I had to choose between these two the flowers would win, but the real winner would be any sort of sour candy.
Sierra Walker or Gaea Martin?
This is a tough choice! Can I not be both? Okay, since you insist on twisting my arm I’ll choose Gaea. She closely resembles me anyway. Her resiliency and tendency to try to find a solution to the problem without rocking the boat is most like the route I would take. But like Gaea, there are times when I will just throw caution to the wind and just go for it.
Last movie you saw in the theatre?
The last movie that I saw in the theatre was The Ides of March. That Ryan Gosling is yummy! Whew! Something about those eyes!
Manolo Blahnik’s girl or T-Shirt and Jeans?
Definitely more a T-shirt and jeans sort of girl. I prefer comfort when I can have it. I can definitely dress up for a night out on the town, but I am truly in my zone when I can dress down and comfortable.
BONUS QUESTION: If any of your books could be made into a movie, which one would you choose?
This is a tough question and hard to narrow down so I would have to choose two. They are Staking His Claim and Propositioning the Rich Italian.
Staking His Claim is a story of an older man and younger woman. Leslie is experiencing a lot of unexpected changes in her life. She is pregnant by a man who doesn’t want to have anything to do with her or their unborn child. Unable to support herself and her child, she has to make the decision to return home.
Blake is an injured military veteran that has had his heart broken before due to the injuries he received during the war. However, he is willing to risk opening his heart to a woman much younger than him and her adorable little girl.
A book like this deserves to be made into a move. I could see it on the Lifetime channel. As far as the actors go, I could see Jim Caviezel playing the role of Blake and Kerry Washington playing the role of Leslie. It might seem like a weird pairing, but if you have read the book you will know why these two actors are the perfect match.
As for Propositioning the Rich Italian, it is a story about a woman who decides to go on her honeymoon by herself after catching her fiancé with her best friend. She decides to have a two-week affair with a gorgeous man and Antonio fits the bill.
Antonio is okay with having an affair with a woman as beautiful as Tierra. It isn’t long before Antonio realizes that two weeks with Tierra isn’t going to be enough.
Another perfect movie for the Lifetime channel. Eddie Cahill would play the role of Antonio and Paula Patton to play the role of Tierra.
Both of these books have compelling stories that could easily transition over to a movie script. While no movie offers are on the table I’ll keep everyone posted.
NOW AVAILABLE from
Kinsey Maxwell is positive she’s lost her mind, when she agrees to meet the male escort that has been hired for her. But she needs some inspiration for the latest novel she’s working on, and desperate times call for desperate measures. Yet, when she spots her Latin lover for the night cross the room, she realizes this set up might be exactly what she needed.
When Javier Elizondo beckons a cocktail waitress across the bar for a drink, he never expects a gorgeous stranger to approach him instead. A beautiful woman who would ignite a consuming passion he’s never experienced. But once he becomes aware of the fact that Kinsey thinks he’s someone he’s not, Javier quickly recognizes that they are in a very compromising position.