Today is Wednesday, and I’m pleased to have Linda Covella join us with her book, Yakimali’s Gift. Though I haven’t read a lot in the historical genre, the cover of Linda’s young adult historical novel piqued my interest. Dig in to the blurb about Yakimali’s Gift, and then we’ll talk to Linda about what inspired the book and what her writing process is like.
It’s 1775 in Mexico, New Spain, and 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, half Spanish and half Pima Indian, can’t seem to live up to her mother’s expectations or fit into the limited female roles of her culture. A tragic accident sets her on a course for the adventure she longed for but at a greater cost than she could ever have imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza’s historic colonization expedition to California. On the arduous four month journey, Fernanda will find not only romance, but she’ll discover truths that will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.
CL: Tell us what sparked the idea for your new release, Yakimali’s Gift?
LC: While doing research for a group of short stories I wrote about children telling how and why their ancestors settled in the United States, I came across the 1775 Anza expedition to colonize California. Having grown up in California, I was surprised I’d never learned about this, and that the expedition occurred during the time of the American Revolution and some seventy years before the often-told story of the east-to-west migration of pioneers. This inspired me to write about this little known, but important, part of California and U.S. history.
Also, most of the information about the journey was written from the male perspective, and I wanted to focus on the women and children, who made up more than half of the number of colonists.
CL: Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you outline before you begin to write or are you a pantster?
LC: I am definitely a pantster. These two quotes pretty much sum up my writing process:
“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
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.
CL: What was the most difficult part of writing Yakilmali’s Gift?
LC: I had to do a lot of research for the story. It was very time consuming, but I love doing research, so that was not difficult for me, per se. I think writing the kissing scenes was the most difficult. I’d never written anything like that before, so it took many tries—and help from my critique group—to get it right!
CL: Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a published author.
LC: My road to publication has been a long one. I’ve always loved to write, but never considered it as a career or being published until about ten years ago. I did some freelance work, but when I published some articles in children’s magazines, I realized this was the audience I wanted to write for.
Though I’d taken creative writing classes here and there for fun, I now took it more seriously and signed up for different classes over the next several years. I joined the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and formed a critique group with another writer I met in an online class. The original group is still together after all these years!
From there, I wrote, revised, wrote more, submitted to agents and editors, and took to heart any personal criticism and/or advice I was lucky enough to get. I came close several times, and those “near misses” are what kept me going and made me think I might have what it takes to get published.
CL: What advice would you offer aspiring writers on the writing business?
LC: My advice is to Never Give Up. This phrase may be a cliché, you may have heard it before, but I really, really mean it.
As I said, I’ve been pursuing publication for many years. I got discouraged and, yes, cried over rejections, but I kept going. Do the things I mentioned above: take classes to improve your craft. Join a critique group. Read tons of books in your genre. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Take to heart criticism from agents and editors.
If you keep improving, if you keep believing, if you love writing, publication will happen for you.
CL: Any special tips for writers who are juggling writing with raising a family, working a day job or just everyday life in general?
LC: It’s difficult to find time to write when you have other obligations. The advice I hear is to write every day, no matter how little. I admit, I still try to follow that advice, but I believe it’s something we writers should strive to do. It’s sort of like exercise. Once I get started, I’m happy I’m doing it! If we can only squeeze in an hour or even half hour on certain days, we really can find that time to get some writing in.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Butt In Chair” coined by author Jane Yolen. Yep, that’s what it takes!
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 official publication was a restaurant review column in a local newspaper, 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 (“Games and Toys in Ancient Rome” and “Traveling the Tokaido in 17th Century Japan,” in Learning Through History magazine, and “Barry’s Very Grown Up Day” in Zootles magazine), 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.
Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for young adults published by Astraea Press, and middle grade paranormal The Castle Blues Quake published by Beau Coup Publishing are her first novels.
She’s a member of 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.
Connect with Linda:
http://lindacovella.com/ See the trailer, read an excerpt and historical information
You can purchase Yakimali’s Gift from these online retailers:
Much thanks to Linda Covella for stopping by!!!