Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday's Author Spotlight: Linda Covella

Today I’m excited to have author Linda Covella on the Sunday’s Author Spotlight. Linda Covella is the author of two children books, one Paranormal Ghost story and a Historical novel for Young Adults.

About 'Yakimali's Gift':’s 1775 in Mexico, New Spain, and 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, half Pima Indian and half

But when a tragic accident presents her with the adventure she longed for, it’s at a greater cost than she could have ever imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza’s historic colonization expedition to California.

On the arduous four-month journey, Fernanda makes friends with Feliciana, the young widow Fernanda can entrust with her deepest thoughts; Gloria, who becomes the sister Fernanda always wished for; and Gloria’s handsome brother Miguel, gentle one moment, angry the next and, like Fernanda, a mestizo–half Indian and half Spanish. As Fernanda penetrates Miguel’s layers of hidden feelings, she’s torn between him and Nicolas, who has joined the journey in the ranks of Anza’s soldiers and whose plans include marrying Fernanda when they reach California.

But propelling Fernanda along the journey is her search for Mama’s Pima Indian past, a past Mama refused to talk about, a past with secrets that Fernanda is determined to learn. The truths she discovers will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.
Spanish, can’t seem to live up to her mother’s expectations or fit into the limited female roles of her culture. While she tends her garden, matches wits with buyers and sellers at the weekly market, and avoids Mama’s lectures and the demands of Nicolas, the handsome soldier pursuing her, Fernanda grabs any opportunity to ride the horses she loves, racing across the desert, dreaming of adventure in faraway lands.

About 'The Castle Blues Quake': Pepper Connelly leaves her best friend, Chrissie, behind when her family moves from New York City to Santa Cruz, CA. Pepper discovers a boy, Corey, hiding in her backyard shed.
Unknown to Pepper, Corey is a ghost trying to contact his grandfather, Boppie, before he crosses over. He tells Pepper he must locate Boppie before Social Services finds him. Pepper agrees to help. While Pepper's communication with Chrissie dwindles, her friendship with Corey grows. She tells Corey about her passion for writing songs, and throughout the story, she composes a song about Corey. Corey teaches Pepper to play the harmonica. Soon, she's torn between finding Boppie and knowing when she does, Corey will certainly go back on the road with his traveling-musician grandfather. Other characters help her on her quest: new classmate Ally Cressman, who dresses in an odd-ball, non-mall style; Sawtooth Sam, the mysterious saw-playing street musician; and Madame Mchumba, who performs her psychic readings at the Boardwalk amusement park. Earthquakes, haunted house rides, poltergeists, and crystal ball readings propel Pepper toward the end of her search as she learns about the give and take, the heartache and joy, of true friendship.

Interview with Linda Covella:

Tell us a little more about Linda Covella?

I've tried and been several things throughout my life so far with associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management, but I never strayed from my writing. On the side, I always did some freelance writing on numerous subjects. Then when I published articles for children’s magazines, I realized I'd found my niche: writing for kids and teens. With that, I became more serious about my fiction writing, joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and started writing novels. It was a long road of perseverance and learning (and rejections!), but I now have two novels published, another coming soon, and another about to be submitted to my publisher for their review.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author and write your own book?

I’ve loved writing ever since I was a kid, but I didn’t think of it as a profession until later in life. After many career paths, I started pursuing my writing more seriously. That was about fifteen years ago.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you use your own experiences?

I don’t really follow the old adage “Write What You Know.” But I do incorporate some of myself and my experiences into my characters and plots.
I get my inspiration from many places: people I know and meet, places I visit, things I read. For example, I was inspired to write ‘Yakimali’s Gift’ after I read about the Anza colonization expedition from Mexico to California in 1775, something I had never heard of or been taught in school, even though I grew up in California. I was further inspired to tell the story from the women’s perspective when I learned more than half the colonists were women and children.

Tell us something about your books? How did you come to the idea of writing those stories?

Both of my books have earned the Seal of Approval from Literary Classics. And ‘Yakimali’s Gift’ is a finalist for the RONE (Reward of Novel Excellence) award in the Young Adult, General Category.
Besides ‘Yakimali’s Gift’, a historical romance for ages 12+ (see my response in the previous question), my other book is a middle grade paranormal story called ‘The Castle Blues Quake’, which takes place in Santa Cruz, CA, where I live. It’s the first book in The Ghost Whisperer Series. Book Two, ‘The Ghosts of Pebble Brook Lodge’, will be out soon.

In ‘The Castle Blues Quake’, 12-year-old Pepper 12-year-old Pepper’s new friend, Corey, is a ghost, but she doesn’t know it. After leaving her best friend behind in New York City, Pepper and her family move to Santa Cruz, CA, where she discovers Corey hiding out in their backyard shed. He’s waiting to make contact with his grandfather, Boppie, before he crosses over. He tells Pepper he needs to find Boppie before Social Services sends him to a foster home. Pepper agrees to help.

Other mysterious characters, time travel, earthquakes, haunted house rides, poltergeist activity, and crystal ball readings propel her toward the shocking end of her search, and an understanding of what it means to be a true friend.

I’ve always loved scary stories. For scary kids’ books I like Holly Black and all of Mary Hahn Downing’s books, which are all ghost stories. I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe when I was young. I also love time travel stories. So those are part of the inspiration for The Ghost Whisperer series. I’ve also lived through several earthquakes in California, so that experience figured into Book One.

Some Authors say that there characters speak to them. Is this how it is with you? And how did your characters come to life?

I think when authors say their characters “speak to them” it means they delve so deeply into the character that they can visualize them, hear what their voices sound like and their speech characteristics, see their mannerisms. At least that’s how it is with me. For me, the characters aren’t immediately fully realized. As I don’t spend a lot of time outlining, I “learn” more about my characters as I write, adding more details with each draft, until finally they become very real to me.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love the creativity. My mother was a life-long artist, and taught me to love all the arts from an early age. She taught me to paint and draw, and I started out in college as an art major. I love being creative through art (which I still dabble in), cooking, gardening, and now most importantly, writing.

Can you describe your writing process? Do you have any sort of ritual you follow?

The most difficult and complicated part of the writing process is the beginning.
~A. B. Yehoshua

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
~E. L. Doctorow

These two quotes pretty much sum up my writing process.
It’s always difficult for me to get started. For me, first drafts are the most difficult part of writing. But once I get past that, I absolutely love revising—searching for that perfect word or phrase, developing the characters, refining the plot. I could keep revising a story (almost) forever!
The second quote describes my style as I make my way through the first draft. I know many authors do detailed outlines before they start writing. That’s not me. I have an idea for a story, I know the general plot and the main characters, and I start writing. Along the way, things happen that I never planned on. Characters appear that I previously had never imagined. I love that part of writing. Maybe it takes longer and maybe it requires more revision later, but that’s the joy I find in writing.

Are you a reader yourself? And what is your favorite book(s)?

An avid lifelong reader! My mother was a school librarian, and taught me to love books. I must always have a book to read! I read all different genres for adults, teens, and kids. I can never just choose one book, but some of my favorites, in no particular order, are:

‘The Plague of Doves’ by Louise Erdrich
‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain
‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern
‘The Lucy Variations’ by Sara Zarr
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon
‘Moon Over Manifest’ by Clare Vanderpool
‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman
‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle
‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ by Betty Smith
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
‘Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank
‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak
‘Wicked Lovely’ by Melissa Marr
‘Daughter of Venice’ by Donna Jo Napoli
‘Bell Canto’ by Ann Patchett
‘The Historian’ by Elizabeth Kostova
‘The Grass is Singing’ by Doris Lessing

What are your future plans in writing?

As I said, my second Ghost Whisperer book, ‘The Ghosts of Pebble Brook Lodge’, will be out soon. I’m just finishing another middle-grade novel called ‘Cryptogram Chaos’ and will submit it to my publisher for review. In ‘Cryptogram Chaos’, 14-year-old computer whiz Cody Reynolds helps two classmates create the ultimate virtual reality game. But fun and excitement turn to fear and suspense as Cody battles an evil presence that takes control of the game.
I also want to write a sequel to ‘Yakimali’s Gift’, but need time to research that!

What would your advice be to new aspiring authors?

My road to publication has been a long one, and I’m so excited to finally have made it to “published author.” I want to tell any aspiring writers out there to Never Give Up. Though this might be a cliché and something you’ve heard many times before, I really mean it. I’ve gone through the tears and depression of all those rejections. But I kept at it. I never gave up. I believe it’s very important to treat your writing as a craft. Take classes. Read books on writing. Join a critique group. Study the industry.
So that’s my advice to you: keep writing, keep revising, keep improving, and you’ll find your dream will come true!

About the Author:

Linda Covella’s varied job experience and education (associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.

A writer for over 30 years, her first publication was a restaurant review column, and as a freelance writer, she continued to publish numerous articles in a variety of publications. But when she published articles for children’s magazines, she realized she’d found her niche: writing for children. She wants to share with kids and teens her love of books: the worlds they open, the things they teach, the feelings they express.

The Castle Blues Quake, a middle-grade paranormal ghost story, and Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for young adults, are her first novels.

She’s a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

No matter what new paths she may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment.

For more information about Linda Covella please visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest and YouTube


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