Lyn McDonald overcomes fear to live dreams

September 12, 2023

In her first book, “The Great Tree and the Ladybug,” Lyn McDonald writes about a ladybug that has to learn to overcome fears and take the next step to learn to fly.

It's a journey mirrored by the author, who spent nearly 14 years working on it in one form or another. McDonald started writing the book when she was living in North Carolina around 2009. A native of Long Island who was raised in Massachusetts, McDonald said writing is always something she wanted to do, but she was reluctant to put herself out there in that way. It’s a contrast from her current day job at Revelation Craft Brewing in Rehoboth Beach, where she tends bar and is friendly, outgoing and everyone seems to know who she is.

McDonald said she didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with the book until 2020 when COVID-19 shut down the world and there was a lot of free time. She had been hooked up with artist Joanne Scotto-Lavino who illustrated the book, and now, much like the ladybug in her story who gets encouraged to fly by the great tree, she decided to go ahead and self-publish her work. 

In November 2020, she decided to invest in her first print run of 1,000 books. She said she has just about sold out of that first run, in part because during her efforts to promote the book, she met Revelation co-owner Kyle Shaffer, who she became friends with, and then was offered the chance to work for Revelation in early 2022. The brewery helped by selling signed copies on site, of which McDonald estimates she’s sold about 150 books. She said her two favorite Revelation beers are I’m Blue blueberry sour and True Story gluten-free sour. In her spare time, McDonald enjoys yoga at Dimitra Yoga in Lewes.  

McDonald said she got the idea for the book after planting a tree with her dad. At that point, her life had gone in a few different directions. After growing up in Massachusetts, she went to school at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., where she majored in psychology. She applied for graduate school but did not get in, leading her to reevaluate whether psychology was what she wanted to do.

She decided it wasn’t, so she traveled abroad to Thailand, where she spent three months working at an orphanage, something McDonald said she never thought she’d have the opportunity to do. When she came back, she relocated to Winston-Salem, N.C., where she worked jobs within the restaurant industry and at a daycare center.

“I found my inspiration for writing there. It took a long time to find the courage to start it. This was a good book to start it with because in my life, I’ve been the ladybug and the tree. You struggle with fear but you also have to find the courage within and look for support outside yourself and within yourself to pursue your dreams,” McDonald said. 

She ended up in Delaware in 2020 after her parents retired and moved here, and she had lost her job due to COVID shutdowns. However, she said it was just the break she needed, as she threw herself into the book full time, creating a platform, Green Light Pages, and a website and newsletter.

“I love to write. I remember writing stories and poems. In my heart, I thought writing was something I always wanted to pursue, and I let other influences take me away from that. I was afraid to follow my heart. But now that the self-publishing industry is so much bigger, there are a lot more opportunities to get stories out into the world. You really have to own it. If you own your work, you can be successful with it,” McDonald said.

She plans to come back with a second print run of “The Great Tree and the Ladybug” with some redesigns and updates. McDonald has also started working on a second book called “When The Walls Come Down,” which she also plans to self-publish. She said the book will again be an illustrated picture book that will be for slightly older readers than her first book. McDonald said there isn’t a publication date yet, but illustration work has begun. 

Despite now being a published author who has already nearly sold out of her first print run, McDonald said she still has to fight the battle of nerves.

“Oh, I’m still afraid,” she said. “It’s not easy to put something that’s from your soul into the world and have it scrutinized by people. I look at it that there are some who don’t resonate with my words and that’s OK, but there are those that do, and if I can help other kids, or even other adults, to not be afraid to follow their heart and their passions, then it's worth taking that risk.” 


  • The Cape Gazette staff has been doing Saltwater Portraits weekly (mostly) for more than 20 years. Reporters, on a rotating basis, prepare written and photographic portraits of a wide variety of characters peopling Delaware's Cape Region. Saltwater Portraits typically appear in the Cape Gazette's Tuesday edition as the lead story in the Cape Life section.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter