Where Readers & Writers Connect
Thank you for joining us for this interview. It’s been said that writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading? What genres do you read most?
I love to read and read a variety of genres, although I don’t read enough of the genres I write in. My favorites are mystery and its various subgenres, thrillers, and intrigue. Pretty masculine books for a Romance/Women’s Fiction author.
How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
I’ve written three books. Shattered Crystal, my feeble attempt at a mystery, is dry-rotting in a drawer somewhere, Give the Lady a Ride, a western romance, is published, and The Cat Lady’s Secret, women’s fiction, is currently with an agent.
How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
I love doing research, but how much I do depends on what my needs are. For The Cat Lady’s Secret, I didn’t need much more than some basic information about horse care, wound treatment, and Queen Anne Victorian homes. I got all that information on the internet.
For Give the Lady a Ride, my research was far more intensive. The “ride” the lady wants is on the back of a bull, so I had to learn a lot about bull riding. I landed an interview with a former bull rider and visited his rodeo ranch where I got to see first hand how they determine which bulls are best for bucking. Virtually everything I learned from him landed in the book, as well as things I learned by studying Professional Bull Riders event videos.
The same is true with my work in progress, Southern Challenge. A “challenge” is a cutting horse competition, also known as a futurity (depending on the age of the horse). I went to a cutting horse event and interviewed riders and owners until I thought I could get the experience on the page effectively. I’ve also watched horse training shows on the RFD network to help me get the terminology and techniques down.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book? How do you get an idea for the book?
As I said, my WIP is Southern Challenge, the first in a contemporary western romance series I’ve tentatively named Family First. The idea for this book came from the oddest place–What Southern Women Know about Flirting, by Ronda Rich. I forget why I bought the book, but Ronda’s presentation of the deceptively-sweet Southern woman intrigued me. I wanted to bring a Georgia girl to Texas and watch the sparks fly as each tries to get their way using the full arsenal in their personalities. This has been one fun book to write.
What is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired?
If I waited for inspiration, I’d rarely get to write. My schedule–when it works for me–is from two to five every day my husband is at work, which can be five to seven days a week. I’ve finally gotten the relevant people in my life to understand I won’t take calls or disturbances during that time, so if they actually do call, they’d better be in an ambulance.
Did your parents encourage your love for reading and/or writing?
Both my parents were writers, poetry and song lyrics for the most part, but Mom took a shot at short stories, and Dad tried a novel. Neither were published, although Dad wrote a song that has quite a history now–and I wish to high heavens I could remember the title. He had an opportunity to sing his song to a bigwig in the industry during the ’50s equivalent to an “open mike night.” Next thing he knew, the song was copyrighted, on the radio, and climbing the charts. And he never saw a dime from it.
How did you study the craft of writing? Do you read books on the craft of writing? If so, what are your favorites and why?
Oh, yeah–I studied the books. Still do. I remember a light-bulb moment while I was reading a book about writing descriptions, and that changed everything for me.
A couple of my favorites are Hooked, by Les Edgerton and Write Tight, by William Brohaugh. Hooked teaches how to write to grab your reader with such intensity, he can’t put the book down. Write Tight shows extraneous words and phrases authors tend to toss into their works that make their writing loose and sloppy, and teaches how to streamline your writing to make it read more smoothly from one idea to the next. I’ve recommended this book to virtually every author I’ve edited.
Another one is Story Structure — Demystified by Larry Brooks. Although James Scott Bell has an excellent book on structure, Brooks is the one who actually reached me and helped me understand structure. Although I’m a pantser, the structure format Brooks gives helps me organize my thoughts and story line. Outlining Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland, is superb for outliners and pantsers alike. Katie’s in-depth guide gives wonderful tips an author can pick and choose from and apply to their own style of writing.
I’m sure I’m leaving a good title or two out, but these are a great representation of the books that have helped me.
What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
This changes almost every time I’m asked–and again, I have a new bit of advice: Get to know your characters so well, you could invite them to dinner and feel their body heat. If they become real to you, they’ll become real to your reader.
Linda W. Yezak holds a BA in English, a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies, and a bucket list as long as her arm. Among the things on the list is owning a stable full of horses, and since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, she includes horses in each of her novels, from her contemporary western romance Give the Lady a Ride and her current work, The Cat Lady’s Secret, to her work-in-progress, a contemporary western romance series tentatively called “Family First.” Until the day she can retire with her husband to their land in Central Texas and ride to her heart’s content, she’ll continue with her writing and freelance editing careers.