Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

There Are Many Ways to Publish: Author Interview with Linda Shenton Matchett

From what I can see, you started writing books in 2015. What made you decide to write that first novel?
I’ve been writing stories since I was in elementary school. I set aside writing during my career, but when my husband and I moved to NH in 2002 to operate a Bed and Breakfast, I picked up my pen again and began doing freelance work for travel and lifestyle magazines.

As much as I enjoyed that, writing the articles reminded me how much I loved telling stories, so I used NaNoWriMo to write my first novel. After many rejections of that manuscript, I realized I had a LOT to learn. One of the things I did was join ACFW and get involved in one of their critique groups which led to being part of a group blog with other authors of historic fiction. We decided to publish a collection of novellas, and I wrote Love’s Harvest over several months for that series.

What drew you to writing about WWII?
I have always been interested in history, but living in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area steered me toward the Civil War era. When we moved to NH, I discovered the Wright Museum of WWII which is located in the town where I live. Thanks to the museum’s exhibits and docents, I was hooked on the time period after my first visit. When I started writing fiction again, I knew I wanted to tell those people’s stories.

Several of your books are a retelling of Biblical stories. How did you manage to intertwine them into your WWII stories?
For Love’s Harvest and Love’s Rescue, I knew which Biblical stories I wanted to retell (Ruth and Rahab, respectively), so I researched organizations and events from WWII to see what fit. Ruth’s gleaning in the fields led me to Britain’s Women’s Land Army, and the two spies that Rahab hid led me to the liberation of Paris.

For the other two books I wanted to explore the German home front and conscientious objection. Finding two Biblical stories that worked with those topics took a lot of digging and studying of the Bible, commentaries, and books about women in the Bible. My brother suggested using Rebekkah and Isaac for Love’s Allegiance.

Are you active with any writing critique groups?
I am currently active in an online critique group with two other women I’ve never met in person. We are an off-shoot of an ACFW group. Initially, the group had about a half dozen folks, but the others have dropped out, and we’ve not been successful in finding replacements.

I used to belong to a local group, but we disbanded a couple of years ago. The dissolution of the group helped me realize what is important in finding the right critique group.

Any tips on finding the right critique group?
Find other writers with the same level of experience who you like to be around. Let’s face it, if they irritate you, you’re not likely to accept their feedback. Seek others who are professional, and by that, I mean people who take their writing as seriously as you do and have a similar vision for their career.

This might be a no-brainer but choose others who enjoy your work. Partners who write in a similar genre is also important. Related to professionalism is choosing others who have similar habits to yours: someone whose critiquing preferences match yours and who can give you the speed and amount of response you’re looking for.

I see your books have been published by a number of different sources. What tips can you offer for working with a publisher? Do you have an agent?
I am a hybrid author which means I have books that are traditionally published and others that are independently published. I don’t have an agent because I haven’t needed one to approach the small and mid-sized companies who have published my books.

To work with a publisher means you must remember they are in charge, not you. They have their best interests in mind, not yours. You will have very little input on the title, cover, or back of the book blurb. If those things are important to you, consider indie publishing. The process with traditional publishers is also quite long, sometimes as much as a year or more from signed contract to published book.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I find revision to be the most difficult part of the writing process. For me, it’s tedious. I’d rather move on to the next story than have to rehash/rework what’s already on the page.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
I love my editor, Paula Proofreader. She is so gracious, and my writing is much better because of her eagle-eye. Lately, she’s had to remind me about how to use foreign language words in my stories. Before that, it was being aware of “weasel words” (words that tend to be overused).

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
One of the rejection letters I received when I submitted my “great American novel” was fantastic, and I wish I had kept it. The well-known editor (of a major Christian publisher) took the time to tell me where my work showed promise, rather than simply send me a “thanks, but no thanks” letter or sending nothing at all. To have a busy professional do that meant the world to me. Her letter is what kept me going in the early days of learning how to write.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?

As I’ve become more of an advanced writer, rejection doesn’t quite sting as badly as it used to. Trust me, it’s still difficult to receive, but I’ve learned that “no” means “next” or “not now.” I received a scathing rejection from a publisher and nearly stepped away from the industry, but my husband encouraged me to submit to the next publisher on my list and most importantly to keep writing.

I forced myself to start a new project after sending the manuscript. That publisher is the one who picked up Under Fire. So now when I get a rejection, I start a new project.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?

I’ve been surprised at how warm and inviting the industry is. Having come from a corporate background and defense contracting where everything is a competition, the acceptance and help from other writers and industry professionals has been a delight.

What frustrated you the most?
That would be when life intervenes, and I’m not able to write as often or as much as I’d like to.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

There is no one way to write and publish a book. There are many avenues to publication, and you have to find the one that works for you.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
As long as writing brings joy to you, keep at it, and try to write something every day. I had a frantic few days last week working extra shifts, and my writing was falling by the wayside (which makes me cranky), so one morning before work I had five extra minutes and decided to see how many words I could get on the page of my work-in-progress. The answer? Eleven. Not many, but enough I felt I’d accomplished something toward my goal. And that gave me joy (and lessened my crankiness! J)

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Don’t listen to the naysayers, even (especially) if they are family or friends.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
Spies & Sweethearts is coming out on April 15th. It’s the first in a trilogy about three sisters who serve in various capacities for the (WWII) war effort.

Here’s the synopsis:
According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off.

The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away—a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.

Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey unscathed?
And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.

That sounds like an action-packed story! If you’d like to learn more about Linda’s writing and buy her books, here are some links to get you started.

Newsletter signup (received a free short story):
Twitter: @lindasmatchett


  1. Wonderful interview, Linda. I see many of my own experiences in yours here. However, I eventually found a small traditional publisher who is very eager to please their authors. God has been good. Your advice to new writers is spot on. All the best with your new release this month.