Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Feature: Linda Covella, author of The Castle Blues Quake


castle-blues-quake-cover 300ppi
The Castle Blues Quake
Linda Covella
Young Adult - Sci Fi / Fantasy Tour


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, she and her family move to Santa Cruz, CA, into a run-down Victorian. Pepper discovers Corey hiding out in the 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.

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.


When our turn came, Sage and Mosi ran to the first car, and I climbed into the one behind them. The ride was meant for kids their age, so I expected it to be as scary as a Jack-in-the-Box.

 The train jerked to a start, and then the cars clack-clack-clacked into total darkness, cool air, and a deep, wicked laugh. Skeleton heads popped up in front of us. Sage and Mosi hugged and screamed happily into each other’s faces. The skeletons glowed white, their eye sockets ruby red. I almost laughed when the levers squeaked as the heads swung back below the tracks. Jack-in-the-Box, exactly.

Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. The gears and chains pulled the cars slowly up a hill. Off to the side, seeming to float in the blackness, a vampire sat in a casket baring his bloody fangs. Ghostly men and women danced in the ballroom of a sunken ship. A giant spider dropped right in front of Mosi and Sage, making them scream even louder. We rolled over the top of the hill, and as we picked up speed, a man with a bloody face sprang up on the track, and even I almost yelled when the cars ran over him.

We sped down the hill and ripped around a corner. Icy air hit me as if we’d plunged into a deep underground cave. My teeth chattered, my breath coming out in quick white puffs. We turned another corner so fast I slammed against the side of the car. I pushed myself up. This is a ride for children? I thought. You got to be kidding me.

Suddenly darkness covered my eyes like a blindfold. My heart raced. I was worried about Sage and Mosi, but I heard them laughing. Then the thud thud thud of a bass drum vibrated through the seat of the car into my stomach.

As if the blindfold was suddenly ripped off my face, I could see again. Up ahead, I made out some shapes barely visible behind a hazy glow. As we got closer, the haze thinned, and I could see the shapes were humans, but not quite human—skeletons, and the glow came from them. All five of them stood playing music, a wailing kind of music, a haunting cry of sorrow.

Then, flesh slowly covered one of the skeletons.

As the cars rumbled past the band, I watched the skin grow on the skeleton’s bones inch by inch. Fingers, hands, neck. Then its face: lips, cheeks, nose, eyes. I was dizzy and sick to my stomach, and so so cold. I squeezed my water bottle until it crackled. The face was almost formed, it was looking familiar…


What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved ghost stories, so all those scary books I’ve read since I was a kid inspired me. Also, after experiencing several earthquakes (I grew up in California), I decided to work the plot around a major quake.


Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?

The story takes place in Santa Cruz where I’ve lived for many years, and where I experienced a major earthquake that, sadly, killed some residents and caused excessive damage. There was a building similar to the Castle Blues that was severely damaged and, after efforts to save it, had to be torn down.

There was also a real saw-playing street musician in Santa Cruz, Tom Scribner, who used to play on the downtown mall. He was my inspiration for the character Sawtooth Sam. You can read about Scribner here.


How did you choose your title?

I always have a difficult time with titles. I brainstormed with my critique group, and The Castle Blues Quake won!


Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.

I love my cover! It was created by Jennifer Stevens who works for my publisher, Beau Coup Publishing. There were the tiniest of tweaks to make after the first round, but right off the bat, it was practically perfect.


Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?

I’ve gone with a small traditional publisher. I really wanted to go with a traditional publisher instead of self-publishing, and was lucky enough to be accepted by Beau Coup Publishing. There were two main reasons I wanted to traditionally publish: I wanted a quality cover, and I wanted help with distribution and hopefully marketing. The old maxim “Don’t judge a book by its cover” may be true, but we are definitely influenced by book covers. Though there are some awesome covers by self-published authors, I also see some poorly executed ones. As far as marketing, I hear/read all the time how publishers these days don’t help promote their authors, especially if you’re new. Not true with Beau Coup Publishing. The promotion team there is amazing, arranging and helping me with all sorts of marketing.


What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

For me, good character development is the most important. I can read almost any genre as long as there are strong, fully realized, and imaginative characters.


What is your 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

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.


How long have you been writing?

Even as a kid, I loved to write. But I never thought of writing as a career. Instead, I ended up with a few degrees—art, business, mechanical drafting, manufacturing management—while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. When I started writing professionally as a freelancer, I wrote about food, business, finance, just about anything that came my way. But when I wrote and published articles in some children’s magazines, that’s when I realized children’s writing is the niche for me.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love to cook. It’s another creative outlet for me. I also love to garden and travel.


What advice would you give an author just starting out?

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. So that’s my advice to you: keep writing, keep revising, keep improving, and you’ll find your dream will come true!


Have you had anything else published?

Yes, I have a young adult historical romance published just one week after The Castle Blues Quake, but through a different publisher, Astraea Press. The story, Yakimali’s Gift, takes place in 1775 New Spain. On a journey from Mexico to California, 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina will discover not only romance, but truths that will change her way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.


What's your next project?

The Castle Blues Quake is the first book in my Ghost Whisperer Series, so I’m working on the next book in the series. In each book in the series, Pepper will have contact with ghosts and travel farther back in time in each subsequent book. This next book also takes place in Santa Cruz County, in the small town of Brookdale in the Santa Cruz Mountains. During the two-week Christmas break, Pepper’s parents move the family into a rundown lodge in Brookdale to check it out for a possible renovation for a hotel/restaurant. The Brookdale Lodge is a real place and has a history of ghost sightings. One in particular, which will be incorporated into my story, is of a girl who, in 1912, drowned in the creek that (even today) runs through the middle of the lodge.

I also plan to write a sequel to Yakimali’s Gift.

Profile Picture_Charlie Cut


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 (“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.

The Castle Blues Quake, a middle grade paranormal, and Yakimali’s Gift, a historical novel for young adults, 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.

Learn more about Linda and her writing:


Linda’s Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Goodreads     |     Pinterest

The Castle Blues Quake

12-year-old 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 shocking conclusion of her search.

Linda’s Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Goodreads     |     Pinterest



This Giveaway is open Internationally. You must be 13+ to enter.
2 Winners will each receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card
This tour is brought to you by
Please check out the other hosts on the tour for chances to enter the Giveaway!


  1. This looks really interesting :) Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thank you, mel.anu! And thanks to Kyra for having me on your blog!

    2. You're welcome.