Read with a cuppa tea
Hi, friends! This month starts our new “Meet the Author” Series, and I’m really excited about it! I love introducing people to new books, and thought it might be fun to also introduce everyone to the authors of a handful of books that I’ve enjoyed. During the series, I’ll still be talking about the things I’m reading and consuming this month (because that’s what we’re all here for!), but definitely stick around -- or even just scroll straight down to the end -- for the good stuff.
What I’m Reading...
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates popped up on my radar last month when a lot of people started sharing books about race and injustice, and titles by Black authors. Between the Worldand Me is a memoir written as letters by Coates to his son, about his experience growing up in Baltimore and as a young adult. He’s an excellent writer, gifted at painting a picture with words and drawing the reader into his experiences.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota, J. Ryan Stradel was just as delightful as Stradel’s first book (which I mentioned in the last newsletter). Lager Queen had a more straightforward narrative, but still told through multiple points of view and with the vivid Midwestern setting. It’s a story about family, ambition, and persevering through difficult situations.
On the Come Up, Angie Thomas is a young adult novel about a girl whose passion for becoming a rapper is challenged by the challenges and struggles of her everyday life. It was a completely engrossing story, with a few cheer-worthy moments that made me want to stand up and fist pump. I’m also a sucker for great characters in my stories, and all the characters in On the Come Up were so real and compelling.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me post about the Summer at the Garden Cafe, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, and my comment that it’s like taking a holiday to the Western coast of Ireland. Rather than have a single narrative, the novel is more like a peek into the lives of people who are connected by their town, and so the reader is treated to stories of friendship, new love, grief, and family secrets. It was a slower-paced book, but sometimes that’s just what I’m in the mood for.
What I’m listening to...
A couple of years ago I discovered the Irish band Beoga when they were on tour with one of my favorite bands (Needtobreathe). They came out with a new album last month-- Carousel-- and I am OBSESSED. There are songs that are bright and cheerful, and a few that are more thoughtful and melancholy, and overall it’s a fantastic mix, and has definitely been on repeat for the past few weeks. The littlest munchkin even asks to listen to one of the songs off the album all the time.
Something I’m grateful for...
Armed with masks and soap and cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, we were able to visit my family in Missouri this summer like we’ve been doing for the past few years. Getting to spend time with my siblings and parents, and watching my kids get to play and have fun with their grandparents and cousins is such a treat and I’m really thankful for it. I’m also grateful that Jeremy and I got to spend a week with some dear friends in Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota (socially distant from anyone else, and once again safely armed with masks and soap and cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer). God’s creation is amazing, the mountains are even more breathtaking than I remember, and I am thankful not only to have shared the experience with people I care about, but to have been reminded how much nature feeds my soul.
Meet author Laura Thomas
I discovered Laura through the Hope Writers community. She put out a call for people who might want to be on the launch team for her newest novel, and I’d never been part of a launch team, so it sounded fun (spoiler: it was!). Laura exudes warmth and generosity, and that definitely comes through in her writing as well as her online presence.
What's your favorite part of the writing process, and least favorite part of the writing process?
With book writing, I especially like the exhilaration and relief in completing that first draft of a manuscript—even if it’s terrible (which it always is!) I know I can then go back and do the hard work of revision until I deem it good enough to submit.
And that leads me to my least favorite part of writing: deeming it good enough to submit! Knowing when to finally stop with the edits and let that baby go. It’s incredibly hard for those of us with perfectionist tendencies. Argh.
Where is someplace you feel most at home?
By the ocean. Any ocean. Preferably with a book in hand, under a palm tree.
I have lived inland for the past couple of decades, where we have gorgeous lakes—but I still miss the salt and sounds of the sea. It reminds me of my childhood. It brings me home.
What is a fictional place you would enjoy visiting?
As I’m so fond of the ocean, why not visit Orphan Beach from my latest novel? I set it in Colima, Mexico, and have actually been to that area on a couple of mission trips years ago, but this particular beach is fictional. It’s not only stunning with its white sand and turquoise waters, it holds both spine-chilling and spectacular memories for my beloved characters. It would be so fun to visit!
Tell us about someone who has inspired you creatively?
At a writing conference several years ago, the keynote speaker was prolific author, Angela Hunt. At that time, I was second-guessing writing in more than one genre and had been quite discouraged by a literary agent. I managed to find Angela Hunt between sessions and knowing she wrote in several genres, I asked for some advice.
She suggested that if God had truly stirred my heart to write a particular story or book in whatever genre—who was I to question Him? That encouraged me so much. I decided at that moment to listen more to God’s voice and worry less about the voice of other people. As a result, my creativity has blossomed and I enjoy writing “heartwarming encouragement for your soul” in several different genres!
What kind of books do you gravitate towards in your own reading life?
I try to mix it up and add variety but I’m rather a mood reader. Definitely more fiction when I’m in relaxation mode and non-fiction when I am more focused on learning in “work-time”.
In fiction, I especially enjoy the drama and tension in Christian romantic suspense (one of the reasons why I decided to write that genre), but I also have a soft spot for historical fiction in the WWII era. I take many book recommendations from the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast by Anne Bogel—it’s such a wonderful resource.
What is your super power?
Baking. Baking is my jam and I can tempt the strongest will with my sugary delights!
I also simply love to bring joy by feeding people a little sweetness.
Hmm you may have given me inspiration for a children’s book here…
One of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?
Something that stands out and has nothing to do with writing per se was given to my husband and I when we came home from our honeymoon (32 years ago!) We were at a huge Christian conference in Wales listening to apologist, author, and speaker, Josh McDowell, and happened to get an opportunity to meet him afterwards. (I realize I may sound like I stalk speakers at conferences, but I promise I do not!) He commented on our very un-Welsh tans, and we explained that we just returned home from our honeymoon in Cyprus. He said,
“Never come off your honeymoon, kids. My wife and I have been married many years, and we never came off our honeymoon. It’s the best advice I can give you.”
Brilliant advice. Those words of wisdom have served us well as we have navigated married life, always remembering the love that drew us to one another in the first place, making date nights a priority, and keeping the “honeymoon” alive! And I happen to believe this little piece of advice may have been instrumental in me writing romance into my novels. I would never have imagined that 32 years ago!
Thanks for talking with us, Laura!
Laura writes heartwarming encouragement for your soul. She has three Christian romantic suspense novels published as well as a Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, and middle-grade novel. She is published in several anthologies and writes devotionals for Union Gospel Press. Her articles and stories are published in magazines and online, and she shares musings on her blog. She is represented by literary agent Clye Young with her children’s books.
Laura is a chocoholic mom of three, married to her high school sweetheart. Originally from the UK, they live in Kelowna, British Columbia as audacious empty-nesters.
Find her books, blog, and coaching atwww.laurathomasauthor.com
FACEBOOK PAGE: @LauraThomasAuthor