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Friday, April 16, 2021

The Edisto Trilogy by Lin Stepp 💕 Guest Post, Series Tour & Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Christian Contemporary Romance)




Standing in grief and shock at the grave of her young husband, Claire Avery wonders what she and her young daughters will do now. They live in the church parsonage they need to vacate. She hasn't worked since her marriage twelve years ago. Old issues and complications hinder relationships with her family. Struggling for answers, Claire accepts her brother-in-law's offer to stay at his beach house at Edisto to give her a season to heal and think. But even the peace and beauty of the coastal island bring new problems along with unexpected joys as Claire seeks to find her way.

Parker Avery always promised his brother Charles he would look after Claire if anything happened to him. Charles stood by him three years ago when his wife Ann died and Parker is determined now to be a help to Claire and the girls. As time passes, instead of feeling like a hero, he feels like a heel instead as he realizes he's developing feelings for his own brother's widow. To make things worse, he watches with pain and jealousy as Miles Lawrence waltzes into Claire's life. What can he expect though? It hardly seems right that Claire, even after a season of mourning, would ever fall in love with her own brother-in-law.

  

Return to Edisto Island in the rich, Lowcountry story of a young woman's difficult decision to run from threat and danger, changing the course of her well-ordered life and, in turn, the life of the young man who loved and lost her.

It was a long trip back to Edisto Island, South Carolina, and the beach house that shaped so much of Mary Helen Avery’s early life. Now her mind flashed between anger and hurt over the difficult situation she’d left behind at the job she loved. Was she doing the right thing to leave? Should she have stayed to fight? She hoped at the quiet, beloved island she knew so well, she’d find the answers she needed and peace from all this turmoil.

J.T.’s heart took a familiar lurch when he saw the car with New Jersey plates parked at the Avery’s beach house. Even after ten years, the memory of Mary Helen Avery still tormented him. Finding her on the porch weeping lit old fires he thought long dead. Was he a fool to hope for something more between them with all their problems of the past? Probably so, but if she stayed long enough, he’d find one more chance to try.

  

In EDISTO SONG a young woman, at the pinnacle of success, is forced to reexamine her dreams as she finds her life as a concert pianist not what she envisioned and those her life is entwined with far from what she believed of them.

Sarah Katherine Avery, becoming internationally known as a young concert pianist of great promise, finds herself at a difficult moment in her career-home in New York, getting ready for a concert with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra but feverish and ill. After pushing on for weeks through illness, her neighbor and friend encourages her to talk to her agent about taking a break for healing after this concert. Worn and disillusioned, Sarah heads over to the concert hall to talk to Jonah but the shock of what she encounters at that meeting spirals her life in a new direction.

Andrew Cavanaugh has traveled to New York from Beaufort to be a support to his boss's daughter, Sarah Katherine Avery-Suki to him-for her concert performance. A friend of Suki's since childhood years at Edisto, and always a supporter of her gift and her music, Andrew is shocked when Suki collapses on stage. He learns as he sits with her at the hospital that her life holds unhappiness none of them knew of but her answers for how to resolve her current problems threaten to send his well-ordered life right out the window.

  

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? 

I am blessed to have had a mother who read to me and loved books. And I have always been an avid, eager reader myself since I discovered the nearby public library as a girl. When I found I could get a library card, check out books, put them in my bike basket, and bring them home to read … I was thrilled! Like the old saying, ‘I’ve lived a thousand lives in books I’d never have known otherwise’. Additionally, I know of a surety that reading all those books then – and now – impacted and shaped my writing and developed my “eye” and “ear” for the beauty of words. I have never met a successful author of multiple titles who was not first an avid reader. It’s the way you learn and absorb the understanding of what a good book is.


Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? 

I can’t write with noise or distractions. I write in silence and quiet in my home office. No music. No noise. Just me working away at the keyboard, lost in the world I’m creating as I write my stories. When I hear music, my mind is pulled away from the focus of my book. When there is a lot of noise going on around me, it blocks me creatively, stopping the flow of my work. Noise is like interruptive clutter to me; it gets in the way of my work, puts too many voices and sounds into my mind—distracts me from what I need to do. For writing: Silence is golden.


Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I usually only have one novel ongoing at a time … but because my husband and I also write regional travel books, I often am working on non-fiction write-ups at the same time about places we’ve been exploring and visiting for our guidebooks. For example, over the last two years J.L. and I visited all the state parks in South Carolina for our new EXPLORING SOUTH CAROLINA STATE PARKS book, that published April first. It’s loaded with descriptions of every park in the state plus over seven hundred color photos in illustration. It is primarily my job to do the descriptive write-ups of each park we visit.


If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

The point in being an author is to give voice to your own individuality, your own voice, and to create your own stories in your own unique way.  An artist is someone who uses their creative gifts, mind, skills, and imagination to create something that has never existed before. Authors might learn about writing by reading the works of others and by reading craft books to learn more about the art of writing … but the books they create should be uniquely their own. I can’t imagine stepping into the shoes of any other author. Their shoes—and style--simply wouldn’t fit me at all, nor would mine fit them.


Pen or typewriter or computer?

I write on a big Mac desktop computer at a desk area spanning around two sides of my home office.  The computer screen is one of those 21-inch screens I can keep two documents open on at once if needed. A printer sits to one side, with book notes, materials, folders, reference books and other office paraphernalia all around. When I come in my office, it’s a signal to me that its time to seriously work and write… On a side note, I do sometimes “think out” plot ideas and character sketches on paper, and occasionally I write part of the first chapter for a new book on paper, playing around with how I want the story to begin. I’ve also been known to write down book ideas as they come to me on napkins or receipts in order not to lose them!


Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

I’m very fond of Vivian Delaney, the main character in my first book published, called THE FOSTER GIRLS. As that book begins, you’re not sure what has brought Vivian fleeing from California to the rural mountains of Wears Valley, Tennessee, but you wonder right away. You know she’s escaping from something, that something has happened to bring her so far from home. And every time you think you’ve got the answer about why she’s here, something else unfolds. I liked those elements of mystery about Vivian and I simply liked Vivian for who she was. She was “relatable” to me. I loved the friendships she made in the mountains, the old farmhouse she rented, the wonderful mountain characters she met, the sweet relationship that developed with a child and with the owner of a summer camp next door, and I especially liked the new life that unfolded for her. Vivian’s story also set the tone for all the books in the future I would write. 

 

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

From the time I was a young girl I always wanted to write or illustrate books. I created wonderful play dramas for all myself and my childhood friends to act out, imagined lives and stories for my big family of dolls, and loved every creative writing assignment I got in school. But writing was only a dream tucked away in my heart and mind until after my children were grown and gone. … Then suddenly, in midlife, those old dreams rose up again. One of my favorite quotes is: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been….”So true for me, and I’m a great example for anyone to never give up on their dreams.


A day in the life of the author? 

I work at least six to eight hours a day as a full-time career author, and many days those hours grow much longer.  I usually think of Mondays as “marketing day” to get office work done, signings and events finalized, needed emails answered, materials sent out, and promotional work done.  Other days I’m involved in planning stages for a book or in writing a book. When my husband J.L. and I are working on a guidebook, as well, we might also be traveling on some days to visit parks or places that are the focus of those works. Between all the writing and marketing are all the stages of editing, proofing, and production needed to get books ready for press—far more extensive and time consuming than anyone knows who isn’t in the business. On many weekdays and weekends J.L. and I also at scheduled book signing events, literary festivals, local events, or out speaking for civic groups, libraries, book clubs, or church groups. I doubt I’ve ever worked as many dedicated hours in any other job I ever held as I do as an author … but I love every minute of this writing life.


Advice they would give new authors? 

Think ahead: what do you want as an author? …Just to write a small memoir or subject book? To write a few books as you feel like it now and then? Or to become a career author?  … The demands for each are different…. When I give workshops I always honestly explain how much work is involved in writing and how much work is involved in the marketing, public relations, and promotional work that expected of all authors—even those with major publishers. So often new authors think all they’ll do is “write the book,” and that the publisher will do all the rest. They expect to get “the Miss Piggy Rich-and-Famous Contract” to a life of ease and comfort by becoming an author.  The biggest wake-up call for new authors is when they learn all the extensive work that is expected of them and when they realize that the remuneration for most authors is far less than they’d hoped.

 

What makes a good story? 

So many things make a “good story” … and different people like to read different types of stories, too … But common threads in all the Good Books we read is that they quickly immerse us into the story and drama, holding our interest. The characters are memorable, believable, and likeable and, even with their flaws and problems, we quickly come to care about them. A good book also has a rich setting, so we’re transported by the author’s words, feeing like we’re there in that place, culture, and time. The story doesn’t slow down or drag in a good book, either, and it has realistic conflict, tension, and a little suspense that holds our interest throughout. The best books offer rich dialogue throughout, too, that make us feel like a fly-on-the-wall listening in, always absorbed in the mood and action. And finally, a good story always seems to have the sort of ending that makes us hate to say goodbye at the end.


What are you currently reading? 

While doing this interview, I had just finished several good books:  The Indigo Girls by Natasha Boyd about Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s remarkable life, a Sarah Dessen novel set at the lake, a fun Jenny Colgan book set in Scotland, a new Susan Wittig Albert mystery about China Bayles, and Laurie King’s Riviera Gold. Now I’m reading and loving Marie Bostwick’s book The Promise Girls. For pleasure, I mostly read romance books, mysteries, historicals, and subject books on topics that interest me.

  

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Kryptonite is that fictional green substance that weakened Superman of his strength. If anything takes me down it is people. They can be so discouraging when they are meant to be the very people to lift you up and spur you on to your best. Family can do this. Friends can do this. Other writers often fall into this group, too, telling you all too often what can’t be done, what you shouldn’t expect, how to change your book, what you’re doing wrong as an author, and discouraging your walk, your dreams and your plans. One of my editors told me that novice writers and “wanna-be-authors” in critique and writing groups often do more damage than good to a writer’s books, style and natural gifts, aspirations, and career. I have, unfortunately, seen this to be true for myself and true for far too many other writers. Be watchful about Kryptonite advice. And if you’re an author, keep in mind that blowing out someone else’s candle will never make yours shine brighter.


Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I don’t write “to the market” as many authors try to do. I write what I love, what is in my heart to share.  The best writers, the ones we love the most, are true to themselves in their writing.  They’re unique and original and have their own distinctive style. Brown wrote: “How you work is a portrait of yourself.” And I believe your writing work should be a reflection of “you” … not something contrived to try to please others.


Do you believe in writer’s block?

No, I do not. I believe in “Writer’s Stop” versus “Writer’s Block.” … If you’re watching a movie and you turn it off and walk away for a week or two and then try to come back to it, you’ll forget what you’ve already viewed. You might even lose interest in it. Like being blocked, you’ll need to go back and watch the whole thing again to get back into the movie at all. Some people try to write like that, in fits and starts, with no consistency, and then they wonder why they get “blocked.” Others start writing with no clear plot, little pre-research and virtually no preliminary work on story or character development. Then they fizzle out … like a car not fueled with enough gas. For others there is simply not enough desire, determination, and grit to work and write consistently … so they say “I’ve Got Writer’s Block.” The way past “writer’s block” is always to sit down, work, and write.  “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no short cut”… Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” [Stephen King] 


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Dear Younger Self … That “singing in your heart,” that hunger to express yourself and write is your God-Given destiny. Don’t deny it. Don’t squelch it. Believe in it and believe in yourself. Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you should be a writer. Don’t wait for some outward approval or permission, for someone to encourage you to write. You go after it because it calls to you.  Seek it out for yourself, following your own heart. People will never understand your call to write, until you become a writer. That’s the way gifts and talents work. They are not usually recognized and applauded until some success is achieved. So believe in yourself and your gifts now. Use them and develop them. Give yourself permission to follow your own star.”



“Now tell me what you’re doing heading to Edisto? Is everything all right?”

“Why should something be wrong? Don’t you think even a workaholic like me needs a vacation now and then? Aren’t you always telling me that?” Mary Helen had no intention of dumping problems on Suki before a show. 

“Well, yeah, but…”

“So I’m taking a break. It seemed like a good time.”

There was a small silence. “I wish I could be there with you. Edisto is our happy place.” …

That’s where Mary Helen headed now, to Edisto Beach, where her family had vacationed since her earliest memories, and where she, her mother, and sister lived after her father’s death seventeen years ago. … The beach helped to sooth their hurt and sorrow then, and Mary Helen hoped it would do the same for her now.




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, a novella in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies, and three novels in her Edisto Trilogy, set on the South Carolina coast: 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. Stepp’s latest novels set around the Smoky Mountains are Downsizing (2021) centered near Gatlinburg and Happy Valley (2020) set near Townsend. 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 speaking for events, festivals, libraries, and book clubs, reading, hiking, exploring out of doors, and keeping up with her readers on Facebook, Twitter, and through her monthly blog and newsletter which you will find on her website at: www.linstepp.com


   

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9 comments :

  1. Thank you so much for spotlighting my new Edisto Trilogy on your Romance Novel Giveaways page!! I hope you and your readers will love traveling to Edisto on the South Carolina coast in three novels. It's been our favorite vacation spot since the 1980s ... and most all the places in the book at Edisto and nearby Charleston and Beaufort are real places readers can later visit. ... Happy Spring to all....
    Lin Stepp, Author

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  2. Liked the description and excerpt. Looking forward to reading.

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  3. Beautiful covers! Can't hardly wait to read them! Love your other books!

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  4. I love Lin Stepp's The Edisto Trilogy. I go there a few times a summer.

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  5. The covers look atmospheric in pretty pastel colors.

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