Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Downsizing by Lin Stepp, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Series: Mountain Home Books #2
Author: Lin Stepp
Publisher: Mountain Hill Press
Release Date: April 1, 2021
Genre: Clean/Sweet Contemporary Romance
Forced to suddenly downsize her life, and not by choice, pushes Mary Pat Latham to give up all that is familiar, to reexamine her life in every area, and to eventually open her heart to new beauty and purpose, instead of only looking back in regret.
At midlife, Mary Pat Latham has an almost perfect life—a successful husband, a beautiful home, four fine grown children, and a wealth of meaningful activities and social clubs to fill her days—so it’s a total shock when her husband walks in one day and says he wants a divorce. As if hearing a stranger talking in her own kitchen, Mary Pat listens to Russell’s reasons for wanting to abandon their long marriage and to his plans, already in place, to sell their home and move on. What will she do? Where will she go? She hasn’t worked since the children were born, her life wrapped up in home and family. Stunned, Mary Pat heads to the small mountain home she and Russell bought from her parents years ago, too shocked and humiliated to face her friends or anyone she knows right now. Owen McCarter knew he’d need to stop by the old Jennings place, on some pretense or other, after Wheeler told him he’d seen a woman up there acting sick. After all, the house was next door to his at the end of Highland Drive. When he knocked on the front door later, it took him a minute to recognize Mary Pat, weeping and so different from the girl he’d known in childhood and fallen in love with. Owen reached out in friendship, of course, seeing Mary Pat so upset, but he felt surprised at the old memories that touched him, too. Hearing her problems and learning why she’d come to the mountains, Owen knew it unlikely she’d stay for long after the more lavish life she’d known. But he couldn’t help wishing she would. Another Lin Stepp novel set in the Smoky Mountains … with a special “Downsizing Diet” available free to readers as a book supplement.
MORE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES
Thank you Lin for joining me on my blog so we can get to know you better!
Which of your Published or Unpublished books is your favorite, and why?
Asking an author which of their books they like best is like asking them to pick a favorite child. Who can do that? You love them all and each is special with their own unique personalities.
A cherished memory for every author, though, is always their first book published. For me that was The Foster Girls in 2009. As that book begins, you’re not sure what has brought Vivian Delaney 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 between her and 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.
How do you pick your character’s personalities or looks?
I’m not sure that I ever “pick” character personalities or looks. Instead I “see” them in my mind, “envision them” as the idea for a new book comes to me. As I visualize those first main book characters for a new story I see them so vividly in my mind as I begin to plan their story, that I go looking for “photos” from old magazines or on the internet that “look like” how I’m seeing them in my mind. I’ve been known to run into the perfect photo flipping through magazines at the dentist’s office. And I don’t mind at all asking if I might “tear out” that one picture, even if the staff think me a little odd for asking!
I “see” the personalities of the characters as I imagine how they will look and then as I work on developing the plot and storyline, and as I research the book, their personalities, backgrounds, mannerisms, and ways flesh out.
Not until all my characters, the main character and the side characters, are fully developed, and my story fully developed, am I ready to begin my book. And on a fun side note, I always create a big “collage picture” bulletin board to hang on the wall behind my work desk … so I can see the pictures of my characters, houses, places, pets, and various scenes while I write every day.
What is your favorite genre to read? What is your favorite genre to write? And why are they your favorites?
Romances are my favorite “go-to” reads … and I love rich, warm-hearted contemporary romances and historicals best. I also like elements of mystery and suspense tucked into my romance novels. For that reason I love to read mystery books, too, and especially those with a touch of romance layered in.
Not surprisingly, I write contemporary romances with a touch of suspense and a little inspiration—exactly the kinds of books I most like to read.
What inspires you the most?
Many creative people carry more than one artistic talent … and I am also an artist, not professionally, but I have a background in art. Being an artist makes me more “visually conscious” than many authors and my story ideas often are inspired visually. One book idea, HAPPY VALLEY, was inspired while hiking a Smoky Mountains trail, another, DOWN BY THE RIVER, developed from seeing an old bed and breakfast for sale on the Little Pigeon River in Townsend. My Edisto Trilogy, set on the coast of South Carolina, was inspired by the many vacations we took on a quiet island called Edisto Beach.
Once a story idea comes to me, I also pray at length about what spiritual seeds God wants to tuck into each book. In that sense, God inspires those ideas, maybe showing the importance of forgiveness , that God answers prayer if we’ll seek His answers, or that God can bring good times out of bad.
Once an idea takes root, how long does it take you to write it down? Do you use outlines?
Generally I spend three months researching, planning, and plotting a book and about three months writing a book. With this schedule, I write two books a year. I fill manila file folders full of character, setting, and plot ideas, with all sorts of other related notes tucked in. I draw out houseplans, sketch setting maps, and get saturated in the growing story line and characters I’m developing for any book. At a certain point, like a woman preganant with a new child, I just “feel” it’s time to deliver and start writing. … Then I create a chapter-by-chapter outline to follow. This is always blocked out in a storyboard form and done in pencil, so I can make changes as needed as I begin to write. But I always know where the story is going from beginning to end … and all the major happenings that will occur in the book before I begin. I am definitely a Planner versus a Panster in writing.
Do you have a favorite author? Or someone whom you would say has influenced your writing style?
As an avid, lifelong reader, I have more “favorite” authors than time to list them. But several authors did impact me from an early age and made me hunger to write. The first was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books. They sang to my heart and made me wish I could create books like those. Later when I read Catherine Marshall’s novel Christy and then Jan Karon’s Mitford books, those titles made me think again: “I so wish I could write books like these.” I identified, too, with John Boy Walton’s heart and his hunger to be a writer in Earl Hamner’s book Spencer’s Mountain, which I read years before the television series debuted.
As for writing style, perhaps all these books and other like them deeply influenced me … I love for my readers to “visually see” my book settings, wishing they could be there, and to be able to “listen in” to a lot of dialogue, so they feel like they’re a “fly-on-the-wall”, seeing and hearing all the ongoing story.
What are your hobbies other than writing?
I draw and paint a little when I have time and I especially like to paint in watercolor. My paintings are always richly detailed and usually of the kinds of scenes that might be in my books … old country homes, flowers, mountain scenes, butterflies, or birds.
Both my husband and I love the outdoors. We hike often in the Smoky Mountains and love exploring. This joint love has led us to write three regional guidebooks together of our explorations … The Afternoon Hiker, a guidebook to trails in the Smoky Mountains, and two state parks guidebooks Discovering Tennessee State Parks and Exploring South Carolina State Parks. All have directions to get to each site, the best things to see in the parks or on the trails, and all include over five-hundred color photos we’ve taken in illustraion.
Additionally, I love to speak and share about my books, about writing, and about our outdoor travels with civic, library, church, or other groups, at literary festivals and events. I also enjoy doing workshops for writers’ groups and conferences.
Do you have a genre that you would never write?
Dolly Parton once wrote: “God is in everything I do and all my work glorifies Him.” I feel like that about my writing, and because I want my work to glorify God … I could never write anything dirty or pornographic, full of foul language or violence, or hateful and celebratory of evil. So writing steamy romance novels, horror books, stories layered with blood and violence, pananormal books, or any other kind of book God would frown over … could never be genres I would write.
What is one thing you would say has had the greatest impact on your writing?
When I was a young woman, about nineteen, I had a sort of ephipany or vision in which I saw a row of books across a shelf. I’d been praying a lot at that time, trying to see what God wanted me to do with my life. In that vision, as I walked over to look at those books more closely, I saw my name on the book spines. And I felt the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “One day you will write a row of books to fill a shelf, just like you see here.” … I’m almost there. As of April first, I have twenty-one published books….. I’m working for God every day now, and He’s still working on me.
Lastly, what was your favorite book growing up?
Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie’s book was in an early storybook in our home and my mother often read it to me. Later I read it myself. Many times. I loved the fanciful concept of being able to fly off to another land and the charming idea of never growing old. Later, when older I watched the Peter Pan and Hook movies. I enjoyed both and still enjoy the Peter Pan story. And, of course, as Tinkerbell said, You have to believe to make it happen and make it so,.’ Isn’t that a little bit true with everything in life?
Here are some of my favorite Peter Pan quotes by J.M. Barrie:
(1) “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
(2) “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
(3) “Dreams do come true. If only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
(4) “It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness.”
(5) “To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image credit Katie Riley
(1) winner will receive a Tennesee gift pack including a print copy of Downsizing by Lin Stepp, The Afternoon Hiker and Discovering Tennessee State Parks by J.L. & Lin Stepp, and a Great Smoky Mountains National Park pocket guide!
Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight April 5, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on April 12, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.