Wo, that's right. There's no problem (even for a n00b) to set up a windows/linux hybrid system in the following order:
1) Install Windows and leave free space on your HDD by creating smaller partitions than that would actually fit on your drive.
<<< or >>>
Decrease size of your currently used windows partitions. This can't be done with those standard hdd utilities like fdisk or so. You'll need special software for this. (See Partition Magic, e.g.)
For both: You'll need at least 1.5 GB disk space for a really funny running linux. If you're very new to it, I'd allocate about 5-10 GB (If you got enough). So you don't need to configure special other devices if you ever wanna rip a dvd or so :-)
Linux uses 2 types of partitions (...). A standard file system partition and a swap partition. Swap should be 2 times of your RAM MB (but at least 128 MB).
2) After you have installed Windows or prepared your HDD as described go for Linux installation.
I use Debian from the scratch - I think the most powerfull and easy to configure distribution, but I don't know if it's so useful for a beginner to use Debian. If you got time
I recommend but else...
The key word you need to know for booting different OS' is your "bootloader". There're currently 2 widespread utilities. "lilo" and "grub" (grub is the newest, but I use lilo). You Distribution will install and setup those automatically. When you're asked during installation/set up if you want to include other installed OS' into your startup menu: just confirm. On the next reboot, you'll get a list of the installed systems.