Recently, I interviewed Linda Yezak.
Linda Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a two-time finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, in 2008 for Give the Lady a Ride, a contemporary western comedy romance, published in 2011, and in 2010 for The Cat Lady’s Secret, a Women’s Fiction comedy-drama. She has been published in Christian Romance, Beyondaries, and Vibrant Nation e-zines, has served as a judge in several national and local writing contests, and is currently a freelance editor and a consulting editor for Port Yonder Press.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?
Learning how to read, write, and spell. Like so many authors, I’ve been at it a long time–and have been a story-teller for even longer. But only recently have I taken everything seriously enough to pursue publication. And to think, it only took 54 years!
WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
A variety of authors who have written the how-to books have influenced my style–not the least of which is James Scott Bell–but the one who has the most direct influence is my critique partner, Katie Weiland. She’s tough and won’t let me get by without putting forth my best effort. Give the Lady a Ride is a far better novel because of her input.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Whenever asked this question before, I always emphasized study. Study the craft. It’s imperative. But recently I read a tip by Brandilyn Collins in A Novel Idea. She said, “Write for your smartest reader.” Even though we don’t write the same genre, the premise is the same: write for the reader who “gets it” without having to have things explained. Write for the reader who has seen it all and would become bored with the mundane. Write for the reader who requires more from the author she reads. If you aim for that reader, you’ll face a constant challenge to improve your skill. Meet the challenge, and your career will sky-rocket.
WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
So far this year, it has been non-existent. Aside from a variety of personal crises I’ve been dealing with, I’m scrambling like a draft horse to find an agent for my second novel, The Cat Lady’s Secret, trying to set up festivals for my traveling shop, The Canopy Bookstore (in the face of impossible odds), and working to promote Give the Lady a Ride through its second year. If and when things settle a bit, my writing schedule will hopefully return to normal: from two to six daily except weekends. Pray for things to settle!
HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED IN TEXAS?
Well, according to my mother, there was a time between the ages of three months and six months that we lived in Macon, Georgia, but I don’t remember it. Then there was the year I lived up north in Enid, Oklahoma, but that didn’t go so well so I scooted home. I’m a Texan through and through.
HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN A BULL?
No, and it’s not because I didn’t want to. Can you believe the ex-pro rider I interviewed for my novel had the nerve to tell me I was too old? Really! I was only 52 at the time. Just because most riders are under 30, you’d think he would’ve at least let me try.
Seriously, though, after watching even the calves buck, I’m glad I didn’t. Even the little ones are tough. I’ve never had a broken bone, and riding a bull would’ve guaranteed at least one.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATEST RELEASE.
Give the Lady a Ride is a fun romance in which a New York socialite gets a lesson in faith on the back of a Texas bull–and a handsome cowboy to help her learn!
I love the comments I’ve been receiving about this, my debut novel. Many of my readers believe I live on a ranch or have ranching experience because of my setting description. I don’t, but it’s great that they think so. Another comment said that the reader wanted to invite one of the characters over for lunch because she could relate to her so well. My male readers particularly like the setting and humor–even cowboys have gotten a kick out of it.
God blessed me with a story to tell and with the ability to tell it. Ya can’t beat that!
WHAT IS THE CAT LADY’S SECRET ABOUT?
Millie, the cat lady, wears purple polyester pants and orange t-shirts. She carries a net to capture feral felines and walks all over town. Wherever she goes, she meets people with needs and wishes—and all are fulfilled.
But who is the real force behind these blessings? A journalist wants to know, and the love of her life makes the discovery that could destroy their relationship.
She went to extremes to hide from her past, but it’s barreling toward her. Fun and games are over. What is she going to do now?
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE A STORY?
How ever much is required to help me understand what I need. Sometimes I just need a quick reference, and a trip into cyberspace does the trick. But to get the bull riding descriptions the way I wanted them for Give the Lady a Ride, I spent an hour in front of a recorded PBR event replaying close-ups of the riders preparing in the chute, spent a couple of hours interviewing a former pro rider, and spent the afternoon on his rodeo ranch watching him “buck the babies”–an event that made it into the novel. I also spent a morning in an auction barn watching the ins and outs of selling cattle. Much of what I learned there didn’t make it into the novel, but what did was accurate.
I’m repeating the process for Southern Challenge, another contemporary western romance set in the world of cutting horse competitions. This one is a bit tougher since cutting contests don’t get the TV time bull riding does. I have to rely on actual attendance and interviews–not that it hurts my feelings!
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH?
One of my daydreams is to write about horse rescue and the ongoing controversy about wild horses, mustangs, unwanted/old horses. There is a very thin line to walk in the telling of this. Both sides of the issue have valid arguments. My research into this has been eye-opening. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to write the story, because it has to be handled so delicately. Maybe someday.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?
On the average day, when I’m not writing, I’m editing. I’m a consulting editor for Port Yonder Press and a freelance editor. I also have a ton of reading to do, from promised reviews, to books for the store, to books I’m reading to learn from the authors.
But you asked how I like to spend my time–fishing. Since I don’t own a horse yet, and have no place to ride even if I did, I want to be fishing.
HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?
They can find me as Linda Yezak on LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Facebook (my fan page is Give the Lady a Ride), and as pprmint777 on Twitter.
The best place to go to learn about my writing is 777 Peppermint Place–and if you hit the link now, you’ll find the rules to win one of the $200-worth of gift certificates I’ll be giving away between now and March 11. To be eligible for the giveaway, leave a comment on this or any other of my posts from the week, in compliance with the rules. The winners will be announced each Saturday!