Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Daddy's Girl" Giveaway and Author Interview with Lin Stepp!

Hey y'all!! Today we welcome Author Lin Stepp! She's giving away a copy of her latest novel, Daddy's Girl! Be sure to enter to win at the end of this post! 

 Tell us about your latest novel or writing project and any personal inspiration behind it.

Hi everyone … I’m Lin Stepp, a native Tennessean, an educator, businesswoman, hiker, married woman for over 40 years, mom of two … and now a bestselling author.  I write Southern contemporary fiction with a little romance, a dash of suspense to keep you guessing, a touch of inspiration, and a big dollop of Appalachian flavor. … 

My tenth novel DADDY’S GIRL just published this month. It is set in Bryson City, North Carolina, a charming small town on the southern side of the Great Smoky Mountains. …Main character Olivia Benton in this story owns a downtown florist and has always lived in Bryson City.  In her heart, she’s never gotten over her early love for neighbor W. T. Zachery who left Bryson City after high school, married, and made a successful new life in New York.  No one thought Weird Warner would never amount to anything in high school, but when he returns to Bryson City after ten years, famous and widowed, Olivia realizes as soon as she sees him that she still loves him … And thus begins the story of these two old friends, with a multitude of past memories and problems between them.

Besides creating Olivia and Warner’s story, I had fun bringing in the intriguing stories of several side characters, dealing with issues of school bullying, and adding in an ongoing town mystery of a vandal defacing public property and upsetting the community.  I think readers will love visiting the “real life town” of Bryson City and hiking in the Smokies with the book characters.

My husband and I have often visited Bryson City and hiked the trails in the Smokies nearby … so it was fun to set my latest novel here in this cute mountain town I’ve spent many happy days in.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

So far as an author … all my books have been set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  Each is a stand-alone novel with its own set of characters and story, taking readers to visit in a new place around the mountains each time.  My first five books were published through an imprint of John F. Blair Publishing of North Carolina and my next four with Kensington Publishing of New York—DOWN BY THE RIVER, MAKIN’ MIRACLES, SAVING LAUREL SPRINGS and WELCOME BACK.  I also wrote a novella for Kensington, set in the Smokies, too, for their Christmas anthology WHEN THE SNOW FALLS. There will be other Smokies titles to come, and my next novel in the mountains titled LOST INHERITANCE will come out next year.

My husband and I have also co-authored a bestselling Smoky Mountains hiking guidebook called THE AFTERNOON HIKER. It has 110 trail descriptions and over 300 color photos.  We had so much fun on this book that we are now working on a Tennessee state parks guidebook titled DISCOVERING TENNESSEE STATE PARKS, which will also publish next year.

For a change of pace … I’m currently working on a beach trilogy set on quiet Edisto Island, where our family has vacationed since the 1980s.  It’s been fun to “visit the beach” in my head and memory while working on this new book series, and the first title is almost two-thirds complete now. I am also trying to write a devotional book as I can, jotting down daily devotional ideas as they come to me. 

God has been good to me … and I’ve been fortunate to see book titles hit the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best seller lists … and to see many books go into large print and international editions.

Do you have a favorite time of the day to write? What about a favorite place?

When I first started writing before my first book came out in 2009, I was teaching eight to nine college classes a year at Tusculum College, where I’m still on adjunct faculty now, working part-time as the educational coordinator for Huntington Learning Center calling on schools in four counties, and helping my husband in our sales and family publications business S & S Communications. … So in those early years I wrote a lot at night when I didn’t have a class going, often from seven to eleven.  I still am a very productive evening writer … But now, with my schedule more flexible, I also write much more during the day as well. I try to write two books a year …

I do my best work in my home office at my big MAC desktop computer. To me when I come into the office and shut the door … it means: “work time.” But I often get some of my best ideas when out of the office … hiking in the mountains, working around the yard, exploring around my home area.

If you could switch genres in your writing, in which genre would you choose to write your next novel?

I’d love to write some books for kids.  It was actually my earliest writing dream to write and illustrate children’s books and I did scribble out some stories back when my children were younger but never went further with them to seek publication. … So perhaps there will be time to work on this sometime in future.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers? I know they’d love a personal note.

Although my heart always yearned to be a writer, my earlier life didn’t allow much time for it.  However, a time finally came when the children had finally left home that there seemed to be time for it. … Looking back, I wish I’d made more disciplined time for writing earlier in my life. Now that I’ve walked the walk, I see that I could have done it – even then—if I’d worked at it harder … But, on a more positive note, my time did finally come.

One of my favorite sayings is:  “it’s never too late to be what you might have been.” And I did finally settle down diligently, with purpose and determination, to write.  And my dream of being published finally came.

As a strong Christian, I think it’s important to seek to find the work that God most wants you to do … then to hold to that dream and to try to pursue it with all you have.  When you get into God’s best will and work, a great joy and peace comes into your life…. along with God’s favor. Life just finally feels right.  If you have not found that right “spot” yet in life, that true purpose and calling, then I encourage you to keep seeking for it … It’s out there waiting for you.

I love hearing faith stories from other Christian Authors. Would you share with us how you became a Christian (asked Jesus to be the boss of your life) & how your faith plays into your writing?

Seeking not only brought me, in time, into my writing … but it brought me into a genuine and true faith.  Although raised in church by strong Christian parents and always taken to church … I did not get truly saved or born again until I was grown and married.  I’m not saying I wasn’t a believer in God, I just had no personal relationship with Him.  Both my husband and I went to church in our early marriage … but found ourselves discontent with it.  The discontentment was probably more in us, looking back, but we both decided together to seek for something more real and vital, like Abraham in the Bible had with God.  The sweet thing about God is that whenever you seek after more of Him, you will find more … and when you seek to draw close to Him, He’ll draw close to you.  We both found what our hearts needed – and have been growing in God and walking with Him ever since.

Often, in reading Christian novels, they have not felt “real” to me … so I made a conscious effort, with God’s help and counsel, to write books that anyone could read and enjoy about real people living real lives … but with seeds of faith tucked into the stories. If people love the Lord, it shows in their lives and actions…. And that’s what I try to show through the characters of my books. 

What is your favorite scripture and why?

Two of my favorite scriptures are:

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” [II Tim 2:15] and “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” [Ps 119:105]

God has left us His Word … so we can read it and grow from it, so we can find the truth we need in it to guide and lead our lives from day to day.

And one of my favorite quotes, to close, is:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’” – Erma Bombeck

You can read more about all my books on my website, see lots of great pictures of the Smokies , and read my monthly blog about my writing at: … I also post on Facebook and Twitter every day.

If you live in the Middle Tennessee area … you can meet Lin this Saturday, April 29th, at BARNES & NOBLE on Mallory Drive, Cool Springs, in Brentwood, Tennessee. … She will be signing her latest book DADDY’S GIRL and the store will also have several of her past Smoky Mountain titles.




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Friday, March 31, 2017

Author Interview with Lauren Brandenburg & Book Giveaway!

Hey y'all! Today we're getting to know fellow author, speaker, and educator, Lauren Brandenburg! 

Lauren will be giving a copy of her latest release "Orlo the Created". Be sure to enter to win below!

Welcome Lauren!

Lauren is a speaker and advocate for home education, as well as author of the middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener and creative writing curriculum, The Engaged Writer. Her novels are recognized as a “Top Safe Read” and “Top Read Aloud” for young readers in the homeschool community. She is active in ACFW and Masterpiece Ministries. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their two children.

Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration behind it.

Oh, how I would love to give you all the details! But as it is currently being shopped, I think it wise to hold off a bit. I will say that it is an adult contemporary and probably my most favorite piece I have ever written. There are glimpses of my own story in the midst of massive financial loss, sprinkled with some larger than life characters, a lovely town, and a flea market . . . and macaroons. Yes, macaroons are very important!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Happy to share! I am currently cleaning up my fifth children’s novel—Orlo: The Burdened, outlining the sixth in the series—Orlo: The Chosen, and brainstorming the follow-up to my adult contemporary (it’s my happy place).

What is your favorite scripture and why?

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

When I am afraid or worried, the Father reminds me to think on what is true—it has helped me through many dark moments. Recently, the idea of dwelling on things that are lovely has consumed me in such a fun, calming way. I have found peace in thinking on the lovely, finding the joy in simplicity, and looking beyond that which is not glorifying to our Father. Think lovely thoughts!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? (ie I can’t stand to fold socks. Torture!)

Folding! I am 100% guilty of leaving clothes in the dryer and running it multiple times until I finally feel like folding them. I’ve also been known to stuff said clean dry clothes in a laundry basket then three days later-ish have to put them back in the dryer for fluffing and wrinkle releasing. Oh, and the words “Have you checked in the dryer?” have come out of my mouth on multiple occasions as my kiddos search for martial arts uniforms, socks, undies, etc. (The dryer just now buzzed as I am typing this! LOL It’s a first round dry, but since there are wet items in the washer, into the basket the dry clothes will go!)

Are you a veteran or do you have someone in your family that served in the Military? Tell us a little bit about your service or their service; it’s our way of honoring you/them. 

I’ve always told people that I grew up I a military family even though my dad was unable to directly serve. My brother currently serves in the Navy, my grandfather served in the Army during WWII, my uncle is a retired Army Ranger, and my other uncle serves in the National Guard. As a young child my dad contracted hystoplasmosis  (my entire childhood I was forbidden to pick up a feather or play in our attic because of it). The illness left my dad’s lungs so scarred that on an x-ray it appeared that he once had tuberculosis. Because of the scarring, my dad was not permitted to actively serve our country in the armed forces. However, he raised me to honor our leaders, respect our military, and respect our country’s flag—I’d say he served his country well.

If you could switch genres in your writing, in which genre would you choose to write your next novel?
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I thought that I would always write for children. I had accepted it as my identity and envisioned many book signings chatting with young fans. Not once did I see myself writing for adults, but then . . . But then I shared a wild idea with my agent. She encouraged me to get it on paper and test-drive it before several publishing houses. Along the way, I think I found myself. I had many real conversations with the Father about who I was trying to be and the design he actually had in mind. So a genre switch . . . how about Children’s Speculative to Adult Humorous Duel Timeline! I’ll finish my children’s series, but I have a feeling I will land somewhere else.

Let’s play a game of favorites! Feel free to elaborate.

Favorite Dessert: Chocolate. Oh wait, I should be more specific . . . Chocolate Cake (unless it is winter and then a cozy cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate will do the trick). But if it is my birthday, Red Velvet Cake (It’s really chocolate cake dyed red with a unique cream cheese icing, so it counts as chocolate, right?)

Favorite Restaurant: Banana Leaf Modern Thai in Cincinnati! (BEST CURRY EVER!)

Favorite Branch of the Military (I won’t judge you if say anything other than Army) : Navy (Shout out to my baby brother!)

Favorite Genre of Music: Alternative (Is that still a genre?) My daughter and I are on a Twenty-One Pilots kick right now! Rumors that make it okay to listen to this band: One of them was homeschooled. One was a youth pastor. Their music has Christian overtones.

Favorite Subject in School: English (I have no fun comments on this, just English.)

Connect with Lauren:

Email –

Amazon (Orlo: The Created) -

 We've had such a great time getting to know Lauren! Enter to win a copy of "Orlo the Created" below!

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