Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years later, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels.
Her publications include Give the Lady a Ride, a 2008 ACFW Genesis finalist and a 2012 Carol Finalist, as well as a 2011 Grace Award Winner. Her new release, The Cat Lady’s Secret, was a Genesis finalist in 2010. She was a contributing author for 31 Devotions for Writers and coauthor with agent Terry Burns of Writing in Obedience.
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Linda, I absolutely loved The Cat Lady's Secret (I endorsed it, y'all). Tell my readers about your it.
The Cat Lady's Secret started as a romantic comedy, but while I was writing it, we got hit by a series of catastrophic events, beginning with the sudden death of my best friend's husband and ending with the unexpected death of my stepson, with months between spent with a seriously ill mom. The result is this comedy/drama Women's Fiction novel that's still fun, but not as comedic as I set out to write. Even though it's not what I started with, I still love the results. I love the depth added to the story because of that rough period in my life.
What sparked this story?
When I finished Give the Lady a Ride and awaited a publisher for it, I suffered a let-down. I paced the living room, having a solo pity party, and I'm certain there was a distinct whine in my voice when I asked the Lord what I was supposed to do next. I'd already delved into cross-stitch and embroidery, rug hooking, plaster casting and painting, and oil painting. It was the wrong season for creative food preservation, and all that baking and cooking was making us fat. I just flat didn't know what to do with myself—especially since both my husband and my mother nixed the idea of me going back to work.
I was wallowing pretty good in a self-pity sludge when I heard a voice--just as clearly as I'm hearing the TV right now—tell me to write a book about a cat lady. I was so excited about the idea that it didn't dawn on me to be surprised about hearing voices in my empty house.
Whether what I wrote is what was intended, I'll never know—it certainly isn't what I intended, but I like it.
What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?
Corporate Ladder, my off-again, on-again project that's been giving me fits since 2010. This is my one attempt at serious fiction. It's influenced by a short story I read in college years ago about a man who'd committed a sin, liked it, and continued until the thrill was gone. He had to find ever more evil sins to rev up his adrenaline each time he got bored with the previous activity.
In Corporate Ladder, I explore the same theme--the quicksand effect of sin--but illustrate it through the life of someone who started out with the best of intentions. It sounded so easy when I started. Not only is it trickier than I thought it would be, I'm hearing from those who matter that I shouldn't pursue it. It's not my "brand," not my personality, too dark—and besides, people want happy books these days.
Maybe someday I'll finish it.
If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?
The Dance, by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley, only because it's on the top of my TBR stack. If I didn't start from the top down, I'd find it impossible to decide among the many I have in the queue.
How many books do you read in a month?
Two—three, if I'm lucky. As a freelance editor, I spend so much time reading what I have to read, that I have little time to read what I want to read. But to have time to read everything I want to read, I'd have to drop out of life.
What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?
When I got married and moved all my stuff to our first home, I found a bag of my early writings, mostly done in blue pencil on Big Red tablet paper, so those were probably among my first writings. When we moved here, I made the mistake of leaving the bag of stories, song lyrics, and poems exposed to my cats, who proceeded to shred it as if that was their purpose for living. As I've said before, they went to bed without their Friskies that night.
What's your favorite writing "instrument or machine" you've ever owned?
My IBM Selectric III. I worked my way through college, and part of my income came from taking in typing from students and grad students. I was clocked at 175 words per minute on that sucker, something my dad found totally amazing. Of course, that he could type 65 wpm on his old Royal using two fingers on each hand and his thumbs amazed me.
What's your favorite genre in which to read?
I read just about everything. I love literary novels, particularly those not chosen by college professors, and I'm learning to love spec-fic. But what I reach for the most is mystery, in any of its varieties.
What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth?
Island of the Blue Dolphins. It was my first book that held the unfamiliar within its pages and I dove in head first. As the saying goes, books open an entire world to you, and this was the one that spurred my passion for book-traveling.
What's next for you?
I never know--isn't that awful? I blame it on my sanguine personality. My co-author, Brad Seggie, and I have a conspiracy theory/thriller our agent is currently pitching, so we're hoping for big news on that. I have manuscripts started for a Biblical historical, a contemporary western romance, a women's fiction drama, and a cozy mystery—which is probably why I'm still with small publishers. I can't decide what I want to write, and until I do, I won't be able to really develop a brand and won't be able to attract the larger publishers. Right now, though, I'm just having fun playing in the different genres.
The Cat Lady's Secret
Emily Taylor loves to help people, loves to ease their burdens and make their dreams come true. But when an unscrupulous conman ruins her reputation, she discovers that helping others is much easier from behind the scenes.
One gift captures the attention of an avid journalist, and with him hot on her trail, her identity as the town’s anonymous benefactor–and her renewed relationship with the love of her life–are threatened.
As her private life begins to unravel, she realizes the one hope for regaining control lies behind prison walls.