Friday, March 3, 2017

On the Rails, Harvey Girls, and Linda Matchett #Freebie

Howdy y'all! Crystal here, and today I'm chatting with fellow STT author Linda Matchett. She's got a hopping new release that's FREE for a limited time, and she's giving us an interesting peek behind the curtain, plus a few interesting tidbits about her and her writing.

For those of us who don't have the privilege of knowing you, tell us a bit about yourself. 

I was born in Maryland, but my dad worked for IBM, which among employees means "I've Been Moved," so we moved quite a few times during my childhood. My junior year in high school we landed back in Maryland near Washington, DC. I stayed in that area until 2002 when my husband and I moved to NH to open a Bed and Breakfast. We operated that until 2012. I now work for a boarding prep school as the dining hall and catering manager.

Well, even I learned something new about you today. :) And speaking of new... Congratulations on your newest release! What is your story about?

Thank you! On the Rails is set in 1910 and is about a young woman, Katherine Newman, who thinks her boyfriend is going to propose marriage when he arranges for them to go to the town's most elegant restaurant. Instead he breaks up with her. She lives in a small town and the break-up becomes fodder for gossip. Mortified, she decides to leave town to start over. She travels to Arizona to become a Harvey Girl.

Whoa! Now, that's a shocker, and a great motivation to spur your character out of town. Where did you get the inspiration for your story? 

I visited Arizona quite a few years ago and learned about Fred Harvey and "his girls."

Image from Crystal's Arizona trip to the Grand Canyon

Apparently back then you took your life in your hands (literally) when you ate at the restaurants along the railroad. Mr. Harvey had worked in the food service business and decided he could do better. He made an agreement with the Santa Fe Railroad to provide the food at their restaurants. He was very successful, except the employees were all men and would get drunk on payday and not show up for work on the following day(s), so he ran ads in the East Coast newspapers for women. I read a lot of interviews and memoirs of these women, some of whom chose to work for him as an "escape." I started thinking about why women would want to escape their home life, and came up with Katherine's story.

The Harvey Girl Uniform
(Image from Crystal's Arizona trip to the Grand Canyon)

Oh, I love hearing tales about the Harvey Girls. (Even watching movies like the one with Judy Garland.) When I visited the Grand Canyon, I got to see some of the history from the Harvey House restaurant there. Such an interesting history.

Where did you get your love of history? 

My dad is a huge history buff and voracious reader. He would share stories at the dinner table. I also had some very good teachers who made history come alive, we made lots of field trips to some fascinating museums. There are four museums in the small town where I live, and I never get tired of visiting them.

Oh, I love museums too.  Tell us, what do you hope folks will take away from your story? 

Our God is a God of second chances. No mistake is too big for him to forgive.

Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it? 

Katherine is a schoolteacher in a one-room school house. In the opening scene she is daydreaming about her upcoming date while the students are taking a test. She is interrupted by the kids in a most unfortunate way.

"Unfortunate"--Ooo. That sounds scary. LOL. Makes me want to read the book though. :) Speaking of which, where can readers buy your book(s)? Where can readers connect with you? 

My website is, and I'm also on Facebook: and Pinterest: My books are available through independent bookstores as well as Amazon.

The eBook version of On the Rails is FREE until Sunday, March 5th: Click here to buy it now!

What do you plan to work on next? 

I was working on a new mystery series, but I just got another contract with Celebrate Lit Publishing (a wonderful company!) to write a Christmas romance, so I'll be starting on that shortly. The book will be part of a collection published in December of this year.

So exiting! Congratulations! Looking forward to hearing more about it. 

Tell us, what does your writing space look like? 

I am very blessed in having a room devoted to my writing, and it is very eclectic. My desk is a six foot butcher block table, so I have room to spread out with papers, books, and computer. There are several bookshelves that hold my research books, magazines, writing craft books, etc. I'm a basket collector so there are a lot of those in the room. I use them to organize my things. I also have a rocker in one corner where I read. The room has two windows that allow lots of sunlight in the room.

Sounds so picturesque. Care to share if you're a plotter or a pantster? 

I'm definitely a plotter, although as I've matured as a writer, I don't fight the characters anymore when they wander off the page! For each book, I create biographies for my characters so I don't make them do anything they wouldn't normally do, then I create a scene-by-scene outline.

Oh, hon, we are on opposite ends of that spectrum. I did a bunch of stuff like once and didn't use half of it. LOL. 

Last but not least, what is the quirkiest thing you've ever done?

Some people might say leaving a lucrative career in the Washington, DC area to operate a Bed & Breakfast, but it was a great change for us, one that we have never regretted. As a result of the move, we have met people we never would have otherwise and had some wonderful experiences.

I think it sounds like fun. Even though I've never stayed in a B&B. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Linda. 

I just downloaded On the Rails. Y'all go out and snag your copy too while it's still FREE. Then come back and tell us---Have you ever ridden on a train or maybe even a Harvey House restaurant? We'd love to hear about it!


  1. Thanks for sitting down with me Crystal and for including some of your photos from your Arizona trip. A great addition to the post!

    1. Sure thing!
      I couldn't resist sharing. :) Glad you enjoyed them.

  2. I used to ride the train from Elgin to Chicago. Sometimes to museums. Once I met my fiancé at Union Station and we spent the day downtown. He was coming from Great Lakes Naval Station. It's scary to think I did that by myself and didn't come to any harm. God was watching over me! It was 1968! We've been married 48 years now!

    1. Oh, wow! Glad God watched over you. Forty-eight years--Congrats! Apparently your fella was worth the risk. :) Thanks so much for sharing.

      I've ridden a train from Palestine to Rusk, TX. If I remember right, it was an old steam engine (I think they've also got diesel engines) and an old train car. It was like stepping into the past. I loved it!

  3. Thank you so much for the free book! Have a great day!

    1. Hope you enjoy it, Melanie! Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Yes, I've taken the train to and from Chicago. Also, I've visited a couple other Union stations while traveling. Thank you for sharing this post and the pictures. Linda, thank you for the free e-book, which sounds like an intriguing read.

    1. Hi, Marilyn! So glad you could drop in.

  5. Thank you for the free book! I rode a trail from my home in Kentucky to Cincinnati and back on a school trip but I would love to take a scenic trip by train. I also enjoyed the Harvey Girls movies!

    1. I'm with you on that scenic trip, Connie. I'm thinking transcontinental train trip. What do you think? ;-)