Welcome to another installment of my new occasional feature on the Frankfort Writers Center blog called Words to Life, where I’ll highlight the work I do with clients. In addition to describing the client project I’ve helped them with, I also highlight other aspects of their writing and/or their work so you can get to know them a little more. I hope their stories will inspire you as you bring your own Words to Life.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Linda Chontos. Linda is a wife, mom, grandmother, and writer. She and her husband, Steve, live in Texas. She blogs as a contributor to the online devotional, Laced With Grace. Linda hired me to proofread and help her self-publish her cozy mystery, Chronicles of Miller’s Crossing: Sleeping Dogs.
Recently, I asked Linda a few questions about her writing process and what led her to self-publish.
Charity Singleton Craig: How long have you been writing?
Linda Chontos: I’ve written on and off since I was in high school—mostly poetry. I set it aside when I got married and had children, but when the last one started school I began writing poetry again. Right about that time someone started a writing group in our church, and I decided to join. I discovered there was so much more to writing than I had ever thought about or dreamed of. When the group disbanded after a few years, I continued to write a bit on my own.
Then in 2006 I discovered blogging. It was just what I had been longing to do—write with purpose. I wanted to use writing as a ministry—something I could do from my home and hopefully the Lord could use to encourage others.
CSC: What led you to write Chronicles of Miller’s Crossing: Sleeping Dogs?
LC: Years ago I bought a book about writing mysteries. I’ve always loved a good mystery and thought it would be fun to try to write one. I didn’t get around to it until just a few years ago. Our family had been through some difficult times, and I felt a yearning to share what God had taught me in that season through the medium of a mystery novel. Once I had the idea, the characters and story slowly followed.
CSC: What’s it about?
LC: Sleeping Dogs is the story of sixty-two year old Matty Amoruso, who is still reeling from the sudden death of her husband when she discovers a hidden notebook in his file cabinet. If the message it contains is true, the man convicted of a local murder thirty-six years ago is innocent, and the real murderer is walking free. Matty must decide if she is willing to uncover the truth, whatever the cost to herself and those around her. There’s also trouble afoot in Matty’s little country church where her friend, Willa-Mae, is leading the charge to get things back to the way they were before the new pastor arrived with his new ideas.
CSC: How long did it take you to write?
LC: It took me about a year to write Sleeping Dogs. When I was about halfway through, I decided to work with a writing coach. It turned out to be a good decision. Working with Ann Kroeker helped so much. She not only gave excellent advice, she encouraged me whenever I wanted to give up.
CSC: How did you decide to hire an editor and self publish? What factors influenced your decision?
LC: When I completed Sleeping Dogs, I decided to ask Ann to edit it. I had edited it myself but felt I needed another set of knowledgeable eyes to look it over. I’m glad I did. With her help, it became a much better book. We asked a few readers to critique it as well, and their input was invaluable. We then sent it off to a couple of agents and two publishing houses, but no one was interested. Truthfully, I got discouraged and set the manuscript aside for months before I decided to self-publish. I just felt I wanted to get the book out there and this seemed the best way to do it.
CSC: What is your goal with self-publishing? How’s it going so far?
LC: My goal has always been to share some truths the Lord has taught me in the hope it will encourage someone else. I put them in story form because that’s the way I tend to see and learn things myself. It may sound a bit corny, but I see this book as an offering to the Lord and trust Him to use it as He will. It’s only been out for a few weeks, so I don’t know how it will all work out. I’ve had a great response from family and friends. Now I will have to work on doing some promotional work myself.
CSC: What is your next writing project?
LC: If Sleeping Dogs does well, I’d like to write a sequel. I’m hoping others will want to know what happens to the people of Miller’s Crossing.