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!

Posted in Waiting, Writing | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

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!

Posted in Appalachian, Family, Nature | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

Four Weeks ‘Til the Launch

Miracle in a Dry SeasonMiracle in a Dry Season officially launches four weeks from tomorrow. When I first got the release date all those months ago, I imagined a sort of mass “unveiling” on Tuesday, August 5. Turns out that’s not quite how it works.

I already have a copy of my novel since the printing was moved up so we’d have copies to hand out at the International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta last month. I’ve not only held my book, but have signed and given away 240 copies. Copies people could very well be reading even now.

And, of course, the e-version releases July 29. And even the print copies releasing August 5 may be mailed a little early. So, Release Day is less of an official holiday than I had envisioned.

Which, I think, is just fine. I like to make a big deal of things. Sometimes to the point that the deal is bigger than the thing. And sometimes I end up disappointed because my big deal isn’t all that big to everyone else. God knows this about me.

So a release that’s kind of spread out, happening a bit here and a bit there, takes the pressure off. I can be excited about my novel entering the world from now until, well, I get tired of being excited about it. I can be excited handing out books in Atlanta and then take a break. I can be excited when my parents get the copies I sent them and then relax. I can be excited when my friends and family come to my launch party on August 3 and then just get on with life. I can be excited every time a new reader finds my book and lets me know something inside spoke to her heart.

I thought I wanted a BIG DAY when the book would be unveiled. But I like this better. It’s like getting little treats one after another rather than a single feast. And if one treat isn’t quite what I hoped? Hang on a minute, the next one could be utterly delicious.

Posted in Appalachian, Family, Food, Miracles, Waiting, Writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Appalachian Thursday–the Fourth at Lucille’s

CornbreadBack home in West Virginia there was always a bean supper at Lucille’s for the Fourth of July. George and Lucille were first cousins to my dad and they had a little, white house up on the ridge above the church.

Each year, Lucille would organize the event with a big kettle of beans bubbling out in the yard, cakes of cornbread, chilled watermelons, and every kind of dessert you could imagine prepared by the ladies of the community. It was a potluck of sorts, although you knew the ham and beans would be there, having cooked for hours and hours in the open air.

Men played horse shoes and told tales. Women fussed over the food and talked the day away. Children ran wild, looking for trouble to get into and usually finding it. Some years we’d have a few fireworks that set Lucille to worrying we might start a fire in the pasture.

And as evening fell we’d gather–bellies sated, stories wound down, and children wore down–for music. They’d gather in the little front room of the little house and play and sing. Folks would sit wherever they could on the floor or the front porch, and listen or maybe join in.

And I would curl in Dad’s lap, dried sweat prickling my arms, equal parts exhausted and contented, and fall asleep to the sounds of music, crickets, and the voices of the people of my country. The people of my particular slice of this amazing country.

God bless America. God bless Appalachia. God bless the people who loved me so well when I was young and didn’t know how precious it was.

Posted in Appalachian, Church, Family, Food, Friends, Love | Tagged , | 6 Comments

What I learned at ICRS

book signing

At the book signing table with Nora St. Laurent of Book Fun Magazine.

I spent last Sunday-Tuesday in Atlanta at the International Christian Retail show. I’ve been to quite a few writers’ conferences, but this was my first event where the focus was on selling books rather than writing them. And it was a hoot.

I went to hopefully connect with retailers who might stock my novel. I did a book signing, some interviews with on-line magazines, joined a panel talking about trends in Christian fiction, and just generally talked to everyone I met. Folks who know me will tell you I’m not shy, but by Tuesday mid-morning my social super-power was beginning to flag.

I also had a chance to meet/see lots of authors whom I admire. I even snagged some of their books during the signings (they give the books away–it’s a marketing thing). I saw Phil & Kay Robertson from Duck Dynasty, but didn’t get to meet them because I had an interview (I’m sure they’d understand). I enjoyed wonderful meals with colleagues and got to attend the Christy Awards and cheer on friends old and new.

And here’s what I took away from the experience:

  • Christian authors are WONDERFUL. It would be easy to get competitive over limited shelf space, awards, and attention, but everyone I met was generous, kind, thoughtful, encouraging, and just generally supportive.
  • Christian retailers are WONDERFUL. They wanted to know about my book, they wanted to know about me, they invited me to sit with them, talk with them, and hoped they’d have a chance to sell my books.
  • Book signings are FUN. Okay, we were giving the books away so it wasn’t a tough sell, but still, everyone was so nice and they could have skipped my book to make room in their suitcases for someone else’s. Made me feel like the real deal.
  • My publisher is AWESOME. From the marketing and sales folks to my editor to the president of Baker Publishing, they all made me feel like part of something bigger than me. Actually, something bigger than all of us since the focus is on God.
  • My agent and agency are AMAZING. I always love seeing Wendy and this time I also got to hang out with Janet and Mary. Such lovely, sweet-spirited ladies who can also lower the boom if needed. Seeing them cheer on agency-mates up for awards was a treat.
  • But most of all, I learned that if I’m willing to leave it all in God’s hands, this being an author business will ENRICH me. I was tempted to stress over things like late shuttles and distant hotels and not knowing what I was doing half the time. I was tempted to try to leverage everything into book sales and attention for my book. But seriously, it would be laughable to think I’ve come this far on my own, so why would it be up to me now? Apparently, God has a plan and I’m just happy he included me.
Posted in Food, Friends, Love, Reading, Writing | Tagged , | 10 Comments