Appalachian Thursday – Keeping Cool


On the porch waiting for a breeze.

It’s hot.

Oh, I know, it’s a lot hotter other places, but when you opt to live in the Appalachian Mountains it isn’t because you love toasty summers. We’ve been in the 90s every day for too long now. At least it cools down at night!

The heat has me reminiscing about hot summer days from childhood and all the ways we found to keep cool in those pre-air-conditioning days. Here are the top ten ways I remember keeping cool:

  1. Aunt Bess’ swimming hole. Icy cold water sliding down a coal-lined creek was absolute heaven. There was a rock to jump off of and another to sit on in the sun before slipping back into that welcoming water.
  2. Mason jars of ice water. The best plan was to not work out in that beating down sun, but when it was time to put up hay, there was little choice. I remember carrying many a sloshing jar clinking with ice to the men in the field. Water beaded on the outside of the jar and somehow water tasted better with chaff in your hair and the sun on your back.
  3. Grandma’s fan. There was often a fan whirring near Grandma’s back door, blowing air into the overheated kitchen. We could crouch in front of the fan and speak into it to hear how the blades distorted our voices.
  4. Rock hopping. Behind Grandma’s house we could wade in Laurel Fork, hopping from rock to rock along the creek. Water is nature’s air conditioning and it was always cooler under the canopy of trees where water whispered past.
  5. The bed of a pick-up truck. I know, I know, it’s not safe to stand with your feet planted firmly on the metal bed, hands on the cab of the truck, and face full in the wind. But it was surely cooler there.
  6. Flat on your back under a maple tree. The tree offered shade, the sky offered a breeze, and there were clouds to watch as they changed shape and rolled on into tomorrow.
  7. Playing in the rain. Give us a nice downpour with water to be collected from the drainpipes and nothing on but our underwear and we were practically shivering with the cool.
  8. The cellar. Bins of potatoes gave it an earthy smell while rows of canned produce gleamed in the light from the open door. And it was cool, cool, cool down there.
  9. Eating homemade ice cream. It was hard work to make, but we were distracted by tasting the salt water as it dripped from the drain spout. And forget curing the end product, we just pulled the paddle out and dug in. Cool all the way down.
  10. A hammock under a towering pine. Something about being suspended in air by a giant large spiderweb is automatically cooler. And if you swing, there’s surely a breeze.

What’s your favorite way to keep cool these days?

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Worrying About Giants

rails-253134_640When I was little, we often slept with the windows open in our un-air-conditioned house. At night, I could sometimes hear a train off in the distance. To me, the thrumming, throbbing pulse of the train sounded like a giant stomping across the hills. And, of course, anything you imagine is ten times more real when you imagine it in bed, after dark, when you’re supposed to be asleep.

I was so afraid of that giant and I just knew he was going to stride right over the hilltop outside my window at any moment. Which placed me in a quandary. Did I open the curtains, so I could see him coming? Or did I leave the curtains closed, so he couldn’t see me?

Seriously, I lost some childhood sleep pondering this question. Throw the curtain back so my view is clear? Or cower behind the fluttery, white fabric? Well, guess what. It didn’t matter in the least. There was no giant. There was no seeing in or seeing out. There was nothing to worry about.

Will my next book do well? Or will it be a flop?
Will I meet my goals at work? Or will I come up short?
Will I meet people’s expectations? Or will they discover I’m faking it?
Will I ever learn to trust God? Or will He keep having to grab my attention?

OR does God have a wonderful, amazing, heaven-shaking plan to use me for his glory that I can’t even begin to imagine?

How much of my life have I wasted worrying? How much sleep have I lost pondering two equally foolish options? The train as a giant story is a fine example of the folly of childhood. But have I really grown up? Or am I still worrying about the coming calamity that’s really just a train headed in another direction altogether?

Matthew 6:27 & 34 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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Countdown to a Barn Party!

This is a re-post from early June–it’s almost time for my book launch and I’m getting excited!

ThicketIn less than two WEEKS the third and final (for now!) installment in the Appalachian Blessings series will be in my hands and, hopefully, in some of yours! To celebrate, we’re holding a book launch party Appalachian-style. It’ll be in a barn, there will be at least one banjo in attendance, and we’ll feast on a covered dish supper. If you’re in the Asheville area on August 11, I hope I’ll see you there!

Thursday, August 11, 2016
The Thicket Farm
323 Dillingham Circle, Asheville, NC

Tapestry CoverYou’re invited to join me for a reading, sale, and signing of the final novel in my Appalachian Blessings series. Then stick around for a covered dish dinner and bluegrass jam in the prettiest little country barn you ever saw! Fried chicken and a wedding cake described in A Tapestry of Secrets will be provided. Bring your favorite dish to share.

6 p.m.              Reading, sale, and signing
6:30 p.m.         Covered dish dinner
7 p.m.              Bluegrass jam (typically held at Riceville Valley Community Church)

The Thicket Farm is in East Asheville off Riceville Road.

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Writing the book is only half the battle . . .

3 booksWhen I started writing, I thought finishing a book would be the hardest thing. And then once I finished a couple, I thought getting a book published would be the hardest thing. And then once I found a publisher I realized what the hardest thing really is.

Marketing that dratted written, published book!

Having written and been deemed worthy of publication, you’d think people would just line up to read the story. Right? I mean, it’s probably pretty good if it made it all this way–right??

Oh right, good is only half the battle. The other half is getting people to 1) know the book exists, and 2) want to spend money on it.

One way my publisher helps me do that is by putting the books on sale. So today, I thought I’d share a bit about how that works (since there’s currently a sale on!).

  1. First, there’s my novella, Appalachian Serenade. It’s permanently free via e-book (or maybe not, but for now I think of it as permanent). The idea there is that we give away a taste of the series and hopefully whet readers’ appetites. Like the cheese samples at Costco.
  2. Then there’s book #1–Miracle in a Dry Season. It’s periodically offered at a deep discount like right now when it’s available for $1.99 (e-version). Again, the idea is to tempt readers to jump into the series.
  3. Then there’s book #2–Until the Harvest. Initially, I thought it would be deeply discounted now and again as well. Nope. When it goes on sale it’s offered for something more like $8.99 (like now).
  4. Book #3–A Tapestry of Secrets–is a brand new release, so it won’t go on sale any time soon.

HOWEVER. Some stores offer sales that . . . just . . . happen. always seems to have my books for a little bit less than anyone else. Print AND digital. Lifeway does periodic $5 sales of print copies. And even though Until the Harvest is meant to be $8.99 right now, Amazon has it at $5.99.

Which is to say . . . although I understand some of the marketing theory behind offering books at a reduced price, it all feels a bit scattered most of the time.

I can tell you that the current planned sales are as follows:
Miracle in a Dry Season – $1.99 through 7/21, then $3.99 through 8/31
Until the Harvest – $8.99 through 8/31

And if you buy ANY of my books by August 31, I’ll e-mail you a set of devotions written from the point-of-view of some of my favorite characters. Because that’s MY stab at this marketing game. Just drop me a line at–I’m always happy to chat with readers.




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Buy a Book, Get a Blessing


The final book in the Appalachian Blessings series is about to release! I’m s0 excited and so grateful to everyone who has invested in purchasing my stories. I know there are plenty of ways to spend dollars and when someone decides to dedicate hard-earned funds to one of my stories, I’m honored and touched. So, as book #3 is about to launch, I wanted to do something to say, “thank you.”

If you e-mail a copy of a receipt (digital or scanned paper) for one of my full-length novels (pictured above) to, I’ll send you a blessing. I have a series of five devotions written from the point-of-view of some of my favorite characters that I would love to e-mail to you. I hope they bless you as much as writing them did me!

  1. Casewell Phillips – The Carpenter
  2. Frank Post – The Doubting Game
  3. Mayfair Hoffman – Mary in a Martha World
  4. Margaret Hoffman Phillips – Wonderfully Made
  5. Sadie Phillips – Never Grow Weary

Thank you for reading my books. Thank you for sharing in my journey.

Sarah Loudin Thomas

P.S. As an added bonus, Miracle in a Dry Season and Until the Harvest will be on sale via most major retailers from July 15-August 31. A Tapestry of Secrets is available for pre-order as well. This promotion will run until Aug. 31, 2016.

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Appalachian Thursday–Nothing but a Tease!

Tapestry CoverIt’s less than a month until the final book in the Appalachian Blessings series releases. Which means I’m in the midst of promotions! Tomorrow my publisher is launching some great sales of books #1 and #2 and I’m going to have a special surprise for anyone who sends me a copy of their receipt from purchasing one of my books.

Sooooo. There will be an EXTRA post tomorrow with the details of our “Buy a Book, Get a Blessing” promotion. And today’s post is nothing but a tease. Stay tuned!

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The Least of These – A (not quite) Book Review

Jesse WoodsI’m predisposed to like anything Chris Fabry writes. 1) He’s a West Virginian, and 2) He’s a fantastic writer. But putting my predilection aside, The Promise of Jesse Woods is a fantastic book.

I knew kids like Jesse when I was growing up–the kids so poor the poor kids looked down on them. Fabry’s book makes me want to travel back in time so I can befriend one girl in particular. She wasn’t always clean. Her clothes weren’t in style. Her family had a reputation for being the very least of these.

Recently, my second grade teacher posted a picture of our class on Facebook. There she is–smiling, looking ready to take on the world. That’s not how I remember her and it makes me realize I didn’t know a thing about her. And I certainly didn’t try to learn.

I did a little research and found that girl on Facebook. My initial thought was to reach out to her and tell her I’m sorry I wasn’t nicer when we were in second grade. But as I learned a little bit about her, I realized it probably wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I now know she was one of ten children. I know she’s married and appears to have children and maybe even grandchildren of her own. She looks good. She looks happy. Her clothes are in style.

Why in the world would I get in touch with her to say I was guilty of harboring prejudice toward her in second grade? Because a story by Chris Fabry reminded me that maybe I wasn’t quite as sweet as I like to remember?

The things is, I don’t have to look into my past to find people I’ve judged. Maybe what I should be focusing on is the people I encounter each day. The people I consciously or unconsciously label as the least. Maybe I should focus on how each and every one of them has a story and challenges and plans and dreams and disappointments.

Just like that girl in second grade.

And just like me.

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