The Reading Habits of Sarah Loudin Thomas and a giveaway

Sarah Loudin Thomas1

Are you a re-reader? Why, or why not? And if you are, what are some of the books you have read over and over?

I’m a selective re-reader simply because there are SO MANY new books I want to read! I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s books several times. I re-read from Jan Karon’s Mitford series when I want something soothing and comfortable. And I like to go back and read books from childhood that I adored—the Little House series, Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, and Narnia. It’s fun to circle back with an adult perspective.

When is your optimal time to read – do you prefer to read in one long block, or do you also read for five minutes here or there when you can?

My two favourite places to read are bed and the bathtub. I almost always wind down the day with a few chapters under the covers. It’s sort of a reward for finishing another day. And I read in the tub until I get pruny at least weekly. I used to read in snatches just about anywhere, but my ability to focus isn’t what it used to be, so I usually read in the evenings or while traveling when I have a chunk of time.

I’d love your thoughts on novellas. Are you thumbs up or down? Or does it depend?!

I’ll have to be honest here. I didn’t much care for novellas until my editor asked me to write one to introduce the Appalachian Blessings series. I read several to get my head in the game and then wrote Appalachian Serenade. Now I kind of like them, but I think it’s because I understand what they are—samples or teasers to hook readers on a story world. I think readers who don’t like them are looking for a full-blown, wide-ranging, deeply developed story that’s somehow boiled down. Which, trust me, is HARD. So if you look at them as fun, little tit-bits to whet your appetite, I think they can actually be quite nice.

Are you faithful to a genre, an author, or simply quality writing?

Pretty much the only genres I’m not wild about are fantasy and, hard-core romance or erotica. I love Ray Bradbury’s science fiction. Lisa Bergren writes great YA. My husband and I often listen to authors like John Grisham, James Patterson, or David Baldacci on long trips. Wendell Berry is probably my favourite author and he writes a bit of everything!

Which factors most influence your selection of a book?

The blurb is the main thing for me, although a snazzy cover can grab me, too. I want to read a book that has heart—not romance necessarily, but a story that makes me think and leaves me changed at least a little bit when I finish.

Your fiction pet peeve?

Promotional hyperbole. It used to mean something to say an author was “best-selling” or “award-winning,” but the terms have been so overused and even misused that they’re kind of meaningless now. I wish I could just use my five-year-old niece’s review for all my promotions. She flipped through a copy of Until the Harvest, saw my picture on the back and announced, “Aunt Sarah writes good books.” Now THAT’S an endorsement.

What book have you read this year that you could not put down, and why?

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell. I fell in love with her books when I read The Widow of Larkspur Inn and then she sort of disappeared. But she’s back and her books appeal to me in much the same way Jane Austen’s do. They aren’t what I’d call action-packed or hugely dramatic. But they transport me to the time and place of the story and it’s utterly delightful to just sink into another world like that.

How do you mark your spot – folded page corner, bookmark, dollar bill, whatever is at hand?

I have folded corners and I’m so ashamed! Now I mostly use my own bookmarks because I have a bunch of them! My mom also sends me pretty or funny bookmarks, so I really have no excuse to deface a book.

TBR pile (1)

Sarah’s TBR

Whose debut novel impressed you more than you anticipated?

Sondra Kraak’s One Plus One Equals Trouble was delightful! I’m in a writing group with Sondra and read her book because I wanted to support her with reviews and feedback. Who knew I was going to enjoy it so much?? It’s a really fun, western romance with duelling one-room schoolteachers. A great, romantic story without being cliché.

When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?

I read a story where a character got ink on her hands in the opening pages and then went on to touch other things without the author either explaining how she got cleaned up or mentioning the mess she continued to make. That was hard for me to get past because I was so worried about the ink! I get terribly distracted when little details like that go awry. The colour of something shifts . . . a timeline is off . . . when I’m writing I can’t move past a detail until I nail it down. Even if it’s just a matter of whether a book a character is reading is leather bound or paper—minutiae matters!

What are some of your favourite CF reads from around 10 years ago, or further back?

Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series is what hooked me on Christian fiction. I thought it was all preachy and pious until I read A Voice in the Wind. Wow. The story was deeply compelling and left me changed. And then I discovered Rivers’ The Last Sin Eater set in my beloved Appalachian Mountains. I’m just sorry that story line isn’t still available for me to write.

Snack/drink of choice while reading?

A cup of tea and that’s it. Snacking requires me to use my hands too much and I’m typing here! Okay, a glass of wine once in a while, but like tea, I can snatch a sip quickly.

What book cover has really caught your eye?

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz. I’ve been a fan of hers for years and really like all her covers, but this latest is spectacularly gorgeous. The way the heroine’s face appears to be illuminated takes my breath away.

Which author makes it easy to turn off your internal editor?

Charles Martin. He almost makes me want to turn off my internal writer and just give it up, but his books are so different from mine I can usually rally and carry on.

What book do you wish you had written? Why?

There really isn’t a book I wished I’d written—I’m content to have written the ones I have. But just to play along I guess I’d say The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because it’s introduced generations of children to faith in such an inviting way.

A Tapestry of Secrets

This Decade-Spanning Novel of Family and Faith Will Delight

Now in her eighties, Perla Phillips has carried a secret since she was eighteen years old. When she sees her granddaughter, Ella, struggling for perfection, she decides to share her secret to show that God can use even the biggest mistakes for good. But before she can reveal what happened during that summer sixty years ago, she has a debilitating stroke.

Carrying a secret of her own, Ella arrives back in Wise, West Virgina, to help her aunt Sadie care for Perla. Both know the woman wanted to tell them something, but she’s now locked in silence. Together they begin looking into the past, but they may learn more than they expected.

Will they have the courage to share their hearts? Or will the truth remain buried forever?

Thank you Sarah!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character Spotlights on Perla (Miracle in a Dry Season) & Margaret & Henry (Until the Harvest)
Visit Sarah’s website
Discover Sarah’s free e-novella Appalachian Serenade
Buy at Amazon: A Tapestry of Secrets or Koorong

A Tapestry of Secrets

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40 Responses to The Reading Habits of Sarah Loudin Thomas and a giveaway

  1. What a tough question! I would think The Frontiersman Daughter was Laura Frantz’s debut and I was hooked on her since.

  2. I love your writing, Sarah. I loved Sondra’s book, too. Thank you for sharing these fun facts about you. Thank you, Rel.

  3. Great interview! I can relate to Lawanna Blackwell’s writing – it’s just so good :) And I agree about A Voice in the Wind. It wasn’t the first Christian novel I read, but it was the one that had me stalking the bookshop waiting for the sequel to arrive.

    Looking forward to reading A Tapestry of Secrets – it’s next on the to-read pile.

  4. I’m not sure I have known when I was reading a debut novel. So not sure I can answer which impressed me more.
    I have read The Widow of Larkspur Inn, and loved it. I recommended it to my book club, and they liked it as well.
    I also think the ladies will like A Tapestry of Secrets.

  5. Sarah, Like you, I’m a re-reader, even though there are good current books out there I want to read as well. But I’ve never turned down a page rather than use a bookmark–maybe, again like you, because I’ve now got a bunch of them. Thanks for letting us get to know you more.
    (And Rel, thanks for this post.)

  6. Not sure which is debut novel, but just love to read!

  7. The Languages of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer blew me away – it’s still one of my favorite all time books; I keep hoping she’ll write something else!!

  8. I absolutely loved Sally Bradley’s debut novel, Kept. The story held me captive from the first page and is still something I think about.

  9. Angela Harris Caplinger

    Okay, I can’t see it very well, but is that Uncle Rex in the picture with you?

  10. Susan Anne Mason.

  11. There are so many books I enjoy but just to name one debut in the last decade – the debut of Karen Witemeyer with A Tailor Made Bride.

  12. Nicholas Sparks first novel kept me reading everything else he wrote.

  13. I bet the story inside is as good as the quilt is beautiful on the cover. Caugh my eye and made mw curious.

  14. It’s kind of hard to choose one debut author that impressed me, but I’ll say Jocelyn Green’s WEDDED TO WAR. I really liked her whole Civil War series.

  15. I just read recently read Gabrielle Meyer’s debut Love Inspired Historical “A Mother in the Making”. I really was impressed with it!

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  16. I’ve mentioned this before, but Varina Denman’s debut, Jaded, was/is amazing. I think it’s a very important novel with a great deal of relevance to today’s believer and the church, as well as non-believer.

  17. I loved W. Dale Cramer’s books Levi’s Will and Summer of Light

  18. Sarah Sundin’s first book A Distant Melody is one of my favorites because of the details and memorable characters, and her writing continues to get better with each book.

  19. Brittany Keating

    I would have to say “The Frontiersman’s Daughter” by Laura Frantz. I have adored her novels ever since that very first one.

  20. I would say Kelli Gwyn’s debut novel impressed me. She was so kind to send two copies, one for the Church Library and one for myself to enjoy.

  21. I’m pretty sure Burning Sky was Lori Benton’s debut novel. Loved that book! I’m reading her newest right now, but I think her first is my favorite.

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