March 29, 2021

If Life Gets Sour, Sweeten It Up!


Dr. Lin Stepp

An old John Wooden quote says: “Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” There’s a lot of truth in that—and for many of us who work as authors or in the publication field this has been a trying year, with covid and all the national unrest. How have you handled this past year? I tried to remember one of my mom’s favorite pieces of advice when new problems hit last March … “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

As a psychologist, and a woman of faith, I knew the first victory in facing hard times is to hold fast to faith, hope, and to keep a good attitude—to speak positive words and to expect new ideas and routes around life’s problems. William James said: “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” Keeping a positive attitude wasn’t easy with so many people falling into fear, worry, stress, and anxiety over the unexpected problems arising in their lives. Many of my author friends let the negatives simply swamp them. They quit writing, quit working, quit marketing—feeling the adversities too hard to overcome.

I was certainly not immune from problems. In March 2020 when covid hit I had two new titles publishing at the first of April – HAPPY VALLEY, my latest Mountain Home book, and RETURN TO EDISTO, the second book in my Edisto beach trilogy. An extensive series of Book Tour signing events had already been scheduled for the months of April, May, June and beyond. I usually do about fifty in-person signing and speaking events a year … and all of these events quickly began to cancel. We had to cancel our big book launch event with food, entertainment and fun, that usually draws about 250 of our fans —an immediate hit—and every day another email came with another cancellation or postponement.

Obviously I was going to have to find some new ways to reach my fans. The first thing my husband and business partner J.L. and I did was to offer to directly mail autographed books to our fan base. We notified readers through Facebook, Twitter, my blog and newsletter that they could order books from us with all our events cancelling. Fortunately we already had an order form, listing all our eighteen titles, on my author website []. The orders began to roll in and we found ourselves packaging and shipping out books all over the U.S and abroad at least once a week for months to come. We were so grateful for the support of our readers in this way!

One day a fan on Facebook asked if she could drive by our home office to pick up our new books here in Knoxville, TN, since she was planning a trip to this area and the Smoky Mountains nearby. I said of course and messaged her my phone number and directions to the office. Soon others were asking to do the same and the Little Bookshop on the Cul-de-Sac was born! I quickly created cute graphics for social media, my newsletter and blog to offer this “pick-up” option. Our “pick-up” adventure turned out to be a lot of fun for us and for our fans. Between mailings, pick-ups, and fans continuing to order books from their local bookstores or online sites like Barnes & Noble and Amazon, we amazingly, saw little diminishment in sales or income. This year, readers are already asking if they can order books again or come by the Little Bookshop on the Cul-de-Sac to get our new titles!

I write two books every year, so I had to also think about how to handle ongoing writing demands to keep meeting these goals. The first challenge to consider was to think out how to complete the ongoing guidebook my husband J.L. were working on. We had been traveling around South Carolina to create a second state parks guidebook to follow up on our TN parks book that proved so successful. Making a multitude of small trips to South Carolina, staying in random motels and eating meals out, didn’t sound like a good idea with covid problems. Instead we scheduled a two-week trip to a beach house at Edisto, SC, and used the house as our base for travels to about fifteen more Lowcountry parks we needed to visit. We could stay in safely, take picnics with us for on the road, come back to our rental house every night—and enjoy a break and beach days, too. This worked so well that we returned to the Midlands area of South Caroline later on for a week at a Wyndham resort condo and visited all the remaining Midland and Pee Dee parks to finish our book. Happily, EXPLORING SOUTH CAROLINA STATE PARKS is completed, edited, and publishes on April first right on schedule.

With so much more time at the home office in 2020, I completed another book over the winter and finished all the final edits and proofs for my other two new books publishing on April first… my new Mountain Home book DOWNSIZING, set near Gatlinburg, and my third coastal novel EDISTO SONG. So I happily have three new books publishing on Thursday, April 1st … and new signing events already scheduled at a Gatlinburg Festival and in Townsend. Even though major bookstores are not yet doing in-store signings, we’re purposed to find new, innovative places to market and sign this year, just as we did last year! J.L. said with a grin that we really proved in this last year that “when life gets tough the tough get going.” I agree and am really happy we found so many ways to make a difficult year sweeter and more joyous.

Lin Stepp is a New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best-selling international author, A native Tennessean, businesswoman, and former faculty member at Tusculum College, Lin has twenty-one published books, including her beloved Smoky Mountain and Mountain Home novels, all set in different Tennessee and North Carolina locations, plus a novella A Smoky Mountain Gift in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies. Stepp’s latest novels, set around the Smoky Mountains, are Downsizing (2021) and Happy Valley (2019). Lin also has three novels set on the South Carolina coast in her Edisto Trilogy: Claire at Edisto (2019), Return to Edisto (2020) and Edisto Song (2021). Lin and her husband J.L. also write regional guidebooks, including a Smoky Mountain hiking guide and two state parks guidebooks for Tennessee and South Carolina. Lin’s title Claire At Edisto was the 2019 Best Books Award Winner in Fiction: Romance, sponsored by American Book Fest, her novel Welcome Back a finalist in the 2017 Selah Awards, and Lin and her husband’s guidebook Discovering Tennessee State Parks a 2019 Best Books Award Finalist in Nonfiction: Travel Guides with American Book Fest. Lin enjoys hiking and exploring out of doors and she loves speaking for events, festivals, libraries, and book clubs and sharing about her work and interests through her monthly blog and newsletter, both on her website at:

New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling International author
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