A Few Minutes with Linda Shenton Matchett

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

Interesting writing rituals?

Linda: I don’t know that it’s an interesting ritual, but my desk has to be clear and organized before I can start writing. I don’t work or think well in a cluttered environment. The first thing I do when I sit down is file extraneous papers, stack the folders or put them away, and arrange my research materials. Then I turn over my hour glass, so at the end of sixty minutes I remember to get up to stretch and walk around.

What is the book about?

Linda: Set during WWII, a young woman suffering from a degenerative eye disease is the main suspect in her fiance’s murder and must prove her innocence. The themes I explore are recognizing our value as God’s creation/children and trusting in His perfect will and timing.

Favorite part of the book?

Linda: Singer Dinah Shore makes a cameo appearance, and I enjoyed researching and writing that scene.

Message for readers?

Linda: God wants what’s best for us, and if we allow Him to lead us, we will find joy no matter what.

Where can readers find you online?


Murder of Convenience

May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.

Set in the early days of America’s entry into WWII and featuring cameo appearances from Hollywood stars, Murder of Convenience is tribute to individuals who served on the home front, especially those who did so in spite of personal difficulties, reminding us that service always comes as a result of sacrifice. Betrayal, blackmail, and a barrage of unanswered questions… Murder of Convenience is the first in Linda Shenton Matchett’s exciting new “Women of Courage” series.

Click to Tweet: A Few Minutes with Linda Shenton Matchett, author of historical #Mystery via @InspiredPrompt #Saturday interview

Working in the Publishing Industry: Conduct Yourselves …

By Tracy Ruckman

We live in such difficult times, don’t we?

When I was invited to write this post over a month ago, I was both honored and terrified. Honored because the subjects of respect, character, integrity are such an important part of our lives, and terrified, honestly, because they ARE that important. I began praying fervently for the Lord to allow the right words to flow – and to give me wisdom as I outlined my thoughts.

Then, for almost an entire month, I procrastinated.

Normally, that would be funny, but instead, today I find myself rather sad because in the past month, I’ve watched the Christian publishing industry – and Christianity as a whole – grapple with allegations of sexual harassment by well-known agents, publishers, editors, authors, pastors, and priests. The news has been heartbreaking on many levels from many angles, and I’ve observed all sides trying to make sense of it all.

As Christians, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation today. As Christians, we should be living our lives above reproach so that this kind of behavior isn’t even in our repertoire.

In the second chapter of his letter to Titus, Paul provides instruction on how we should live. Two verses sum up the teaching: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” ~ Titus 2:7-8 ESV

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world, where sin runs rampant. None of us are immune, and while that is not an excuse to “go sin some more,” it should serve as a wake-up call that we must – at all times – be on the alert, to guard our own behavior and to be aware of the behavior of those around us.

I can’t and won’t cast the first stone at any of the alleged perpetrators, or question any of the victims, as some observers have suggested. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us have times in our pasts when we’ve not lived as a good example of Christianity.

My own life is like that, and I thank God He changed me. He forgave me, mercifully, and has made me a new creature. Because I am a new creature in Christ, I make different choices for myself and I try to always think of others as I make those choices.

We cannot change the past, but we must change the future.

Today, I want to discuss some of my observations as a publisher, editor, and writer for the past thirteen years and offer some basic guidelines for writers as they navigate the publishing world of today.

Respect

While it should go without saying, I offer a gentle reminder to always be respectful in all your interactions with those in our industry.

Respect the time of professionals. Even though many/most writers, and some agents, are freelance, this doesn’t mean they work 24/7. Unless they instruct you otherwise, communicate with them during office hours, and please don’t expect them to respond to your e-mails in the wee hours of the morning. And for the sake of all our sanity, do not EVER include your publishing pros in a group text at 3 a.m. (Or any other time. Group texts are of the devil.)

Please, please, please do not follow pros into the restroom at writing conferences to pitch your project. Yes, it has happened to me, and to numerous friends. Even if your story is the next bestseller, pitching it in the bathroom won’t make a favorable impression.

Listen, with respect, to advice provided by the pros. They’re pros for a reason, and their experience can help you become a better writer. Listening, and actually hearing, what the pros are telling you about your writing could help more than you realize. Students willing to learn are rare, so soak up as much information as you can and apply it to your writing. Editors will love you.

Respect the confidentiality entrusted in you by publishers and agents. Yakking all the details of their business deals will put you in a bad light.

Respect YOURSELF. Don’t dismiss your own morals and values to acquire a publishing contract, or to “protect” your career. Leave your career in God’s hands and respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone who attempts to tarnish those morals in any way, whether it be sexually, contractually, or editorially.

Character, Ethics, and Integrity

I read an interesting article on character as I wrote this one. “People of good character are guided by ethical principles even when it’s physically dangerous or detrimental to their careers, social standing, or economic well-being. They do the right thing even when it costs more than they want to pay. … Character is ethics in action.”

Another article explains the difference between integrity and character as this: having integrity means recognizing a problem and refusing to do the wrong thing; character means recognizing that problem and doing something to correct it or stop it.

Your communications and interactions with industry professionals will reveal your character. Are you negative or positive? Are you harsh or kind? Are you demanding or understanding?

Do you choose your friendships based on what that person can do for your career? Do you ignore the receptionist or the janitor while gushing over the agent or publisher? Do you berate editors for changing a comma? (Yes, it’s happened.)

Click to Tweet: Act professionally, even when you don’t think it matters – because it actually does.

As Christians, we must operate with the utmost respect and integrity, because our character – and our witness – as Christians demands just that.

“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” ~ Philippians 1:27 NASB

Tracy Ruckman owns TMP Books where she coaches beginning writers with notepad scribblings all the way through to a finished book.

The Write Course: 3 Minute Tips for the Beginning Writer Episode 4

Jennifer Hallmark here. Welcome to my You Tube series called “The Write Course: 3 Minute Tips for the Beginning Writer.”

While this has been one of the harder “technical” challenges I’ve faced, it’s been an enjoyable experience learning about YouTube and sharing a little of my story and tips that might help you avoid some of the pitfalls I faced in the past. And maybe I’ll answer a few questions you’ve had about writing…

Episode 4: Today’s topic is Launch into the Adventure: Why go? Spreading Your Message.

Click to tweet: A brand new YouTube series for the beginning writer. Catch Episode 4 on the Inspired Prompt blog: Writing to spread your message. #amwriting #WritersLife

3 Questions Wednesday with Ellie Gustafson

Image result for Eleanor GustafsonHappy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Ellie Gustafson . We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Ellie:  I would say, Lover of God.

Love your answer! Now about travel…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Ellie:  My heart is drawn to Scotland, and even though I’ve been there multiple times, I’d go again in a heartbeat. Grazing sheep, lochs, the Highlands, the isles, and even remote spittals*—all captured my heart. I met dear friends there—Brian and Isabel—also lovers of God. On my trip, I would simply follow them around to listen and drink in the high-powered nutrition of their spiritual relationship with people and with God. How could I record such an experience? Only a few people are sufficiently gifted for such writings, and I’m not one of them. I could prick a vein and write in blood, but even that would be a weak portrayal.

scotland

* Spittal—a house or place of refuge for the sick, especially one for patients with contagious diseases; or a shelter built along roads in 16th and 17th century Scotland as a haven from wolf attacks

Very interesting. 🙂 Last question…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Ellie:  My theme would be, “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven,” based on Psalm 103. It speaks my heart. Having written a novel on the life of King David (The Stones), I identify with his passionate love for the Lord.

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like we His praise should sing
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same forever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Widely as His mercy flows.

Angels, in the height adore Him
Ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
Dwellers all in time and space
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

Me ‘n David—that’s our song!

Great choice.  Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: Author Ellie Gustafson talks about faith, Scotland, and a giveaway. #faith #delphiniu

Ellie would love to give away a copy of An Unspeakable Glory, reader’s choice of format. (Print, USA only) Please leave a comment to be entered.


 An Unpresentable Glory

A noted gardener from snobbish Westchester County in New York, finds a stranger, obviously ill, sprawled near her delphiniums. She takes him into her house and cares for him an entire week and only later learns who he really is. An investigative reporter uncovers the secret week, and both Linda and her guest become a spectacle in the eyes of the world.


Image result for Eleanor GustafsonEllie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but didn’t write anything down until much later. After graduating from Wheaton College in Illinois, she jumped into church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, newsletter editor (Asaph by name), and encourager. Additional experiences include gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—all of which helped bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.

An Unpresentable Glory 

Dynamo   

The Stones 

Website & Blog

Amazon Page

Twitter

Facebook: Ellie Gustafson


Working With the Industry: The Importance of Editing

By Michael Ehret

“Everyone needs an editor.”

These are words I have spoken—as an editor—to many writers who wondered if they needed to spend money on editing. Yes. Yes, you do. And I don’t say that as a freelance editor who likes to eat and sleep indoors.

I say that as a mentoring editor who wants to see every client succeed. It was true then and it’s true now. It will always be true.

Everyone needs an editor.

Then one day The Publishing Fairy knocked on my door.

“Yoo-hoo!” She flitted into the room on preposterously tiny wings, flinging eraser shavings like they were glitter. “Your writing group, The Penwrights, is putting together a collection of novellas and we’d like you to write one. You in?”

After a quick pinch to make sure I was awake—hey, I’m a writer and I daydream—I agreed.

Just like that, I was on the other side of the keyboard and writing on deadline. Jinkies! Fortunately, I am an editor, so I could shave a little time by skipping…

“Oh,” the PF said right before she typed -30- and left the room, “Everyone needs an editor. Remember that.”

“Right,” I said. Everyone but me, because I’m an editor.

The perfect manuscript

So, after I finished my story, “Big Love,” I dutifully sent it off to the editor, Linda Yezak, knowing that while she might find an occasional typo or missing word, extensive editing was not needed. It was close to perfect, I said all humble, as I tried not to break my arm patting myself on the back.

But—and I’m not sure exactly how this happened—when I received my manuscript back, there were edits. On every page.

No, really. The manuscript was full of them.

She called me “dash happy” and even questioned my parentage! Apparently, writing—like—William Shatner talks—is—a little—too much—style. And I guess I prefer the British spellings of certain words to the less colourful American spellings. So kill me.

But then it got worse.

Linda—bless her heart!—said I wrote a cliché. Or, maybe, several. Land o’ Goshen! That woman couldn’t see the forest for the trees. She left no stone unturned trying to ferret out clichés. In a nutshell, at the end of the day, even though she was bold as brass, Linda was right (that hurts) because two wrongs don’t make a right and two (or more) clichés don’t make great sentences. Am I right?

But she wasn’t done

A good editor walks the line between suggesting improvements and making improvements. In the following example, Linda suggested that I could do a better job of showing Rafe’s evolving feelings for Berly. She was right—again. Here’s the original:

He opened his file for another review of his research and was gripped again by her eyes in the IBJ portrait piece—as well as the playfulness of the pose. The photographer had shot her as Rosie the Riveter, only she had a hammer in her hands. It was cute. Very cute.

And then, from the final manuscript:

He opened his file for another review of his research and saw Timberly’s portrait again. Those eyes. So deep and sparkling with playfulness. The photographer had shot her as Rosie the Riveter, only she had a hammer in her hands. It was cute. And charming. 

In the first—“was gripped again by her eyes”—is narrative telling. The second—“Those eyes. So deep and sparkling with playfulness”—is deeper POV showing. The reader sees Berly’s eyes from Rafe’s point of view, not mine.

Linda, like any fine editor, took my story, in my voice, and showed me ways to improve it—make it stronger. That is the benefit of a great editor. And that is why—say it with me!—everyone needs an editor. Even me.

Click to tweet: Everyone needs an editor. Just ask Michael Ehret. #amwriting #WritersLife


Michael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation to write with Him and is also a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal magazine for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), was editor-in-chief of the Christian Writers Guild, and he pays the bills as the Assistant Bookstore Coordinator for the Indianapolis Public Library. His novella, “Big Love,” appears in the collection Coming Home: A Tiny Home Collection.

He’s been married for 37 years to Deb and they have three children, one dog (a miniature Schnauzer named Baxter), and a granddog. He’s currently working on a new novel that WILL need editing.


Coming Home ~ A Tiny House Collection

Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. Travel with them around the country in this big novella collection.

Love is Sweeter in Sugar Hill: She has a tiny house. He lives in a mansion. She vows to charge a doctor with malpractice. His job depends on that doctor’s finances. Will love find a way?

Kayla’s Challenge: She was one “I do” short of marrying the man her pushy parents chose for her. Now, half a country away, she needs a tiny house to finally be free.

If These Walls Could Talk: Both claim to have inherited the same Queen Anne until an unexpected blessing changes everything.

First Love: Betrayed by her husband and desperate for healing, she can only move forward by going back home.

Dash of Pepper: His responsibilities tie him to the small town he loves, but her career plans will lead her to the big city. Will he cut his roots for her or will she clip her wings for him?

Big Love: Homelessness expanded her world and constricted his. Now she needs his help, but he only remembers the pain. Can they find big love in a tiny house?

The Light Holding Her: Friends since childhood. She’s being stalked. He’s in danger. Is their faith big enough to carry them through the trials into a deeper relationship?