Appalachian Thursday–Fresh Peaches

Peaches!Peaches are at their peak here in Western North Carolina. A neighbor brought us some from the farmer’s market earlier this week and I’ve been enjoying them every day.

You may have noticed that peaches are prominent on the cover of Miracle in a Dry Season. I’ll tell you a secret. I wasn’t all that keen on the peaches when I first saw the cover. They’re gorgeous, but when I see peaches I think of Georgia not West Virginia. I would’ve pictured apples or maybe brown eggs in that apron.

But now I LOVE the peaches. They’re so lush and they almost seem to glow. Plus, Perla makes a peach cobbler. And we did have a peach tree on the farm in WV. Yes, Appalachian peaches!

My friend and chef Dale Hawkins of Fish Hawk Acres in Rock Cave, WV, supplied me with a recipe for Perla’s Peach Cobbler. If you, too, have an abundance of the fruit, I highly recommend trying it this weekend. Preferably with some freshly churned ice cream on top.

Perla’s Peach Cobbler
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup milk
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 cups sliced fresh peaches

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in a 9×9 baking dish. Blend flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk. Pour batter in baking dish over melted butter. Sprinkle peaches on top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Serve warm with freshly whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream.

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The Fear of Success–Book #2

fawn at pondTomorrow, the e-version of Miracle in a Dry Season will release. By the following Tuesday, the print version should be available just about everywhere books are sold.

Eep.

This is both wonderful and terrifying. I’ve already seen a handful of reviews from early readers that have been very gratifying. It’s SO satisfying to hear readers talk about the very themes I hoped were somewhere on those pages between the pretty covers. Because in story telling, there comes a point when I’ve written, edited, re-edited, and combed through those words to the point that I’m not sure what’s in there anymore.

Which is where I am with the sequel–Until the Harvest. I’ve written it, completed the major edits, and now it’s time to send it back to my editor for another thorough going over. And I don’t want to let go of it.

I keep wondering if this story communicates what I hope it does. Did I get the message in there? If a reader loved Casewell, will she also love Henry? What about Margaret? She’s nothing like Perla. Having gotten some feedback on book #1, I now have an idea about what’s appealing to readers. Do I still have that in book #2?

I had not anticipated these doubts. It makes me really, really glad that I’ve already written Until the Harvest. If I were just jumping in now, I’d be much too heavily influenced by what I think readers want instead of what God has called me to write.

And there’s the hard part. It’s not about me. I’ve grown the best book I can from the seed God planted in my heart the day Henry and Margaret’s story began forming in my mind. I’ve nurtured and watered and pruned (oh, how I’ve pruned!). And those glorious lines that might capture people’s hearts? If there are any, they’re the ones God whispered in my ear. At this point, trying to come up with anything else on my own would be foolish.

So, as Miracle in a Dry Season goes out into the world to do whatever God plans to do with it, I’ll pry my fingers off the digital pages of Until the Harvest and hit send. I’d say I’m giving it to God except that it’s always been His. He’s just been letting me hold it for a while. And that is more than good enough for me.

Posted in Appalachian, Miracles, Nature, Reading, Waiting, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Appalachian Thursday–Aprons & a Contest

Jenni in her apron

Author Jenni Brummett in her apron–click on the photo to visit her website.

My grandmother had quite a collection of aprons–full aprons and half aprons. Terry cloth aprons for everyday and frilly aprons for company. I personally own four aprons–a quilted one from my friend Judy, a flowered one that was a prize in a contest, an adorable rick-racked half apron my friend Delores made for me, and my favorite–the white, ruffled apron that belonged to my mother.

And yes, I do wear them from time to time.

These days, I think aprons tend to be for fun. They’re a sort of designer clothing item for the kitchen in gorgeous patterns and elaborate styles. But once upon a time aprons were entirely practical. When you didn’t have many clothes they kept the ones you did have clean. They served as wearable dish/hand towels. You could grab a handful of apron to take a hot pan from the oven. You could even wipe a child’s tears.

Sanitary? Probably not, but those were the days before leaving food out would kill us and when eating dirt was a rite of childhood. Germy aprons probably kept everyone’s immune system in tip-top shape.

Perla wears an apron in Miracle in a Dry Season. The cover of the novel shows her with an apron full of peaches. It’s a very, very plain apron, as it should be in West Virginia in 1954.

When a friend and early reader sent me a photo of herself wearing an apron with my book cradled in it, she gave me an idea: Go to my Facebook page and post a photo of yourself in an apron filled with fruit or anything else you want to share and I’ll randomly select one entrant to win a signed copy of the novel along with an apron. You have until release day–August 5–to send your photo. Can’t wait to see you!

 

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FAQS–When People Hear You’re an Author

QuestionsQ- The #1 question has long been: “How’s your book coming?”
A- The problem with this question is that, most of the time, the answer isn’t very interesting. “Well, I just finished chapter nineteen.” Or, “I’m in the middle of edits.” Often, it’s an in-between time and there really isn’t anything going on. I suspect this question is a lot like asking how someone’s family is. The questioner isn’t really looking for an in-depth analysis, they’re just being nice.

Q- When can I get a copy?
A- This is a great question when there’s an actual answer. I’ve known the date for Miracle in a Dry Season–August 5–for a while now. But there were many months when all I knew was “Summer 2014.” And when you tell someone they can get your book in a year or so it’s a little bit of a let-down. Of course, it turns out that even the release date is fuzzy. The e-book releases July 29 and apparently the physical book might ship early. So you can get a copy, “soon!”

Q- Are you doing lots of traveling and book signings?
A- It’s funny how folks have this idea that authors travel around to lots of events and book signings. But few authors do these anymore and when they do the signings can be downright discouraging. I’ve heard from quite a few authors about signings where no one but a handful of friends and family members showed up. Maybe it’s because authors are so accessible via social media. At any rate, my travel calendar isn’t exactly filling up.

Q- Are you going to quit your job?
A- Well, first, I love my job. And second, while it’s nice to earn some money from my writing it probably works out to something like $5/hour in a really good year. Good thing I love writing, too.

Q- Are you writing the next book?
A- By the time the first book is out, the second book had better be written, and the third should be more than just a concept. The publishing world moves slowly which means work needs to be completed way in advance. Yes, the next book is written and I’m almost finished with the big picture edits. My editor will have the first draft of book #3 in his hands before the year is out.

Q- Are you excited?
A- This one’s easy. “Oh, yes!”

Q4U- What else do you wonder about the glamorous life of the debut author? I’ll be glad to answer!

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Appalachian Thursday–Playing in the Creek

Laurel Fork

Laurel Fork

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the wonders of playing in the front yard when I was a kid. This week we’re headed for the creek!

How many times did my mother tell us either NOT to play in the creek or NOT to get wet. Seriously Mom, what were you thinking? Water running over rocks and through pools is utterly irresistible to kids and staying dry is unthinkable.

First, we rock-hopped up and down the creek. Intrepid explorers seeing the world from a new vantage point. Everything looks different from the creek bed.

Then we would skip rocks–I still do on occasion. How many skips can you get? Of course, mountain streams offer limited surface area, but it’s still great fun.

Next came building dams. Oh to create a pool deep enough for swimming. That was the goal no matter how shallow the creek. I don’t think we ever even got up to our knees. Well, not standing, anyway.

And finally, there were crawdads to catch. And sometimes newts. And maybe even wee, little fish that we never quite pinned down.

We stayed cool. We had fun. We got wet and sometimes even dirty. Once I slipped on a rock and came home with a big ole goose egg on the back  of my head. I’m pretty sure there was blood on occasion.

Oh, the joys of a creek in summer. I think I may go dip my toes now!

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Fear Fast: Post-Lent Update

injectionIf you were following my blog back before Easter, you may remember that I gave up fear for Lent this year. In the past, I’ve given up things like candy and French fries, which, the day after Easter, I went right back to enjoying. But fear, I hoped, would be something I could continue to live without.

Of course, I can’t. But I have become more conscious of how it crops up in my life. I try not to say things like, “I’m afraid this cake is going to stick to the pan.” Or “I’m afraid we haven’t saved enough for retirement.” And I’m working on identifying what frightens me so I can tackle it head on.

So, when I went in for my annual check-up, I knew my doctor would probably for the umpteenth time, suggest I get a T-DAP shot. I had politely declined over and over, which she apparently failed to note in my file. Or maybe she did note it with a big red circle to indicate that she needed to keep after me.

Now, it’s not the needle that scares me. It’s the stuff that squirts through the needle to lodge somewhere under my flesh and have who knows what effect on me. I mean, it’s viruses. Dead or no, this just seems like asking for trouble.

But honestly, a shot that can protect me from tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping-cough is probably I good thing. Which is scarier: getting a shot that almost certainly won’t hurt me or walking around in a world where diseases are making a resurgence? Sigh. So when she asked me, I said, “sure,” all light-hearted like it was no big deal.

I got the shot. And other than feeling like I’d done a few extra reps with some hand weights the next day nothing happened. I didn’t have some weird reaction. I didn’t get whooping-cough. I didn’t even think about it much.

Did God want me to get a T-DAP shot? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure he didn’t want me to agonize over whether or not to get one every time I went in for a check-up. I’m pretty sure there are other places he can use all that energy I waste being afraid.

Posted in Miracles, Waiting | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Appalachian Blessings–Wow, a news release!

PromoI’ve been in marketing and public relations since I graduated college which was, um, 20 years ago. In that time, I have written more than a few news releases. But I don’t think I’ve ever been the subject of a news release.

So check this out!

Debut novel from Bethany House featured in both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal
Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas has received national attention with reviews in two prestigious review publications. Library Journal’s starred review stated, “Once in a while a new author comes along with a work that makes you sit up and take notice. Thomas has crafted a tale of this proportion.” Publishers Weekly’s reviewer concluded, “Thomas’s fiction debut offers sympathetic, wholesome protagonists seeking to live faithful, prayerful lives and engaging supporting characters in subplots that explore the overarching themes of forgiveness, redemption, and the wideness of God’s love.” Sarah Loudin Thomas writes books of faith, hope, and miracles, set in Appalachia, the region where she grew up. Her debut novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, is set in small town West Virginia, 1954, where one newcomer’s special gift with food produces both gratitude and censure. For more information, contact Amy Green (agreen@bethanyhouse.com), or visit Sarah’s website, sarahloudinthomas.com.

Seriously. How cool is that?!?

Posted in Appalachian, Food, Miracles, Reading, Waiting, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments