Introducing…Lin Stepp!

Welcome to Weavers of Words (WOW), Lin. I know readers are excited to get to know you, so let’s jump right in.

1. Tell us a little bit about where you live.

I live in Knoxville in east Tennessee not far from the Smoky Mountains. I am a native Tennessean and have lived most all my life here. My early relatives trekked down the Appalachian Trail to settle this area and I have heard stories related to these relatives and this region all my life. Very much a Southern girl and an Appalachian girl, I find my heart always lifts when I see the mountains come into view again after traveling.

2. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Inspiration for my books comes first from my love of the Smoky Mountains. All my novels are stand-alone books that take the reader to visit in different locations around the Smokies, with a new story and new characters each time. I write contemporary romance with a touch of suspense, a dash of inspiration, and a big dollop Appalachian flavor. … Other factors that inspire or shape my books are my rich family background and my own memories of growing up in Tennessee, my faith, and my academic and work background in education and psychology. … You might be interested to know that the idea for the novels in my Smoky Mountain series were inspired while my husband and I were working on our hiking guide THE AFTERNOON HIKER,Afternoon_Hiker_TBc published last year. While traveling around the mountains hiking the trails and exploring the different regions of the Smokies we often stopped at small stores and bookshops. There I’d look for books set in the mountains but could never find any contemporary novels. When I asked one of the booksellers one day to help me find some, he said: “We don’t have any. This is the most visited national park in America and people come in here all the time looking for contemporary novels set in the mountains. I wish someone would write some.” … So I did.

3. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book MAKIN’ MIRACLES is set amid the charm of Gatlinburg. Its main characters are a shopkeeper Zola Devon and a nature photographer Spencer Jackson. Both are unique, creative individuals—Zola part Tahitian with a seer’s gift of knowledge through which God allows her to sometimes see aspects about people to help them while Spencer is a man with a dark past which keeps him from being fully happy, even through he has a rich God-given gift as a photographer. The story follows how their lives connect and intertwine amid the beauty of the mountains, loving friends and family, and unexpected twists of plot. MAKIN’ MIRACLES, like all my Smokies-set novels, is a rich, heart-warming story – that captures the goodness of the mountain region and its people.

4. Can you share what you’re working on now and what’s coming next?

Like most career authors I am working on editing for an upcoming book and marketing my current book while also writing on a new title. … I just completed first edits on the next novel Kensington will release in the fall of

Makin'_Miracles_TRD2015 titled SAVING LAUREL SPRINGS. This is a great story set in the Cosby area of the Smoky Mountains about a young couple who grew up on an old assembly grounds and campground and yearned to bring the old property back to its former glory someday. However, time has separated the two in many ways and created hurt and bitterness between them – so returning to old dreams proves hard – and provides a fun story for readers.

There are several finished titles to be published after SAVING LAUREL SPRINGS, before the book I’m writing now will come out – one in Maggie Valley, NC, one in Bryson Çity, NC, and then another returning to Gatlinburg, TN The title I am working on now is called THE BREAKDOWN and it is set in the Greenbrier area of the Smokies. I like to work well ahead of my publisher. This gives me time to put a finished book aside and to return to it later to edit with fresh eyes … and it also keeps deadline stress away.

5. Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

As an author, your book is your business. If you are serious about growing a business, you will work to market and promote it. One of the major ongoing parts of an author’s job—between writing more good books—is marketing and promotion. The first legs to that are setting up a good website, getting involved in social media like Facebook and Twitter, and then getting out to make your books more visible through marketing efforts and book signings. I have a strong background in sales, marketing, and public relations—and as an educator and professor am used to public speaking—so none of this has been an unexpected aspect of being an author to me. In fact, I love to do book signings, presentations, festivals, and workshops where I get to meet and talk with my fans and meet potential new readers. The writing life is by nature a somewhat introverted one between you and your computer—and I am an extrovert. So promotion is fun for me. I love to meet and greet.
However, that said, let me not diminish the fact that promotion is hard work. It takes diligent ongoing effort, planning, research, phone calls, emails, personal marketing visits to bookstores, and hours of travel and signing time to promote your book effectively. But if you want to be successful you have to do what all successful people do—work long and hard.
Since my books went national with Kensington, I have picked up a wonderful publicist and benefited from the broader distribution a large publishing house provides. This has been a big help and as someone who used to be “their own publicist” I am truly grateful. This publishing change has taken my books to the next level, putting me in the best-seller ranks with USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon – and brought me my first international contract.

6. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

I have always loved books and always been a reader. When I started to write, I wrote the kinds of books I loved—and hoped readers would love them, too. To my great and joyous surprise they did. My readers write me wonderful fan letters and they look forward eagerly for my next title. This is the most wonderful feeling and, to me, the most satisfying aspect of being a writer—to write what I love and to know others love my writing, too. … As long as readers keep loving my books, I will keep writing them.

7. Describe your writing process once you sit down to write – or the preliminaries and preparation that are a part of writing for you.

It takes me about three months to research, plan, and outline a new book and then about three months to write it—so usually I can write two books in a year around my other teaching at Tusculum College and as a co-owner in my husband’s business S & S Communications.
With every book, I start with a general concept of what the book will be about and then plan the general plot line from start to finish. With my concept fully formed, I work on fleshing out the plot, developing all the characters who will people the book and creating and researching the setting. I am a very thorough and detailed planner, creating a multitude of folders about every aspect of my books, including creating maps, house plans, and character sketches. I see my characters so clearly in my mind as I envision them that I soon search in magazines or online for photos of them and of the places that will be in my books. After my research is finished, I develop a rough outline and then a more detailed chapter-by-chapter outline before I ever begin to write. … Then I settle in, usually writing a part of – or all of – a chapter a day until the book is completed. Although I don’t write every day … I write most every day or I find the flow of the story and it takes me more time to get back into it before I can complete it.

8. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice: “write what you know.”

When I hear “write what you know” I think of three important things for any aspiring writer to think about.
(1) Write the kind of books you love to read.
The first thing I ask potential authors is: What do you read? What kind of books do you like? What types of books do you know the best because you read so many of them? …. When any potential author tells me they don’t read much or don’t read at all, I am shocked. You need to read the type of book you plan to write and lots of them. How can write what you don’t know?
(2) Write about the kinds of people and places you know.
It is easier to envision and to picture to others places you know well. This gives you the inside vision of what that place is like, things to see, and what the people who live there are like. It’s often difficult to write about places you don’t know or types of people very different from yourself culturally or philosophically unless you do careful research. Most of the time, you can write better and more believably when you write what you know more about.
(3) Write true to yourself and your beliefs.
No matter what is “hot” on the book market, if you don’t read that type of book, love it and relate to it, you won’t be able to successfully write that type of genre. Think about who you are and what you believe when you consider what type of books you should write. Readers expect an author’s books to reflect who they are. So write who you are.
I think you should let who you are, what you are, and what you know shine through your work – and your books.
That’s what I try to do.

Thanks for visiting with us, Lin. We’ve enjoyed getting to know you better and look forward to reading your books!
If any of my readers would like to attend Lin’s book launch January 25th, 2-3 pm, as a part of Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is more than welcome. You can find more information about the launch on her website under Book Tour. She will be speaking about “Writing Smoky Mountain Books” in Meeting Room #2 North in the LeConte Center where Wilderness Wildlife Week is being held. There are hundreds of other activities to attend and enjoy at this fun-filled annual event in the Smokies. So mark your calendar!




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