Puppy Tales

Let’s see if a cute puppy gets me more comments. ;-)

My Puppy Tales

The Grand Puppy

The latest grand puppy is a Short Haired Pointer named Gibbs who belongs to my son Jeff.

The first puppy I had was a family dog named Boots. I remember going with my parents and sisters to pick out a puppy from someone who had a litter. I must have been about five. We played with them for a while and someone said it’s decided, and I remember being annoyed that no one asked my opinion. I had been interested in a different puppy. Well, such is the life of the baby in the family! And it continued. My sister Sharon really took over and Boots, while I enjoyed her, never really was MY puppy.

Later we added a dog (not a puppy) that my oldest sister Regena rescued off someone’s clothesline chain. Then a cat that Sharon rescued (after the dogs were gone.)

When I got married, I did not want a dog. Boots had turned out to be a neurotic mess in her old age during thunderstorms and the 4th of July. Boots and the rescued dog fought terribly. I just didn’t want that. We got cats.

Who’s Dog?

Later we did get a dog for our boys, and he turned out to be my dog. A sheltie named Cody who was so sweet and loyal. He’s been gone a few years now. Then we had Jeff’s dog Mia while he was in the army, but she left to move in with him when he returned. She was my husband’s dog second after Jeff. A boxer that was well trained and trailed Jeff obediently, hanging on to his every word. We all miss her.

Then our son Kyle and his wife Kelsey got two dogs. They visit and romp and play at granny’s house.

Gibbs. He's bigger now.

Gibbs. He’s bigger now.

And now Gibbs. Jeff got his dream job working for the National Park Service for the season so we have his puppy while he’s away. Gibbs loves everybody, but since I’m spending the most time with him, I think I’ve adopted him. He’s very sweet, but yeah, he’s a puppy, so there are puppy problems sometimes, but mostly he’s a great puppy to have around.

Which Got Me Thinking About Pets As Family

When people do genealogy, they rarely include pets. You don’t put them on your tree. But they are an important part of people’s lives. I wonder if there should be a secondary page in the family record for pets. What do think?

Why I Chose to Write About Ellis Island

Ellis Island, Grace's PicturesYou would be surprised how many times people ask me that question. Well, maybe you aren’t surprised. Maybe you would ask it yourself because you are curious how an author decides what to write about. Fair enough. But it surprises me because…why wouldn’t I? Ellis Island is iconic. Immigrants to the island passed by The Statue of Liberty and thought about what it would mean to live in America. It’s American pride in our heritage, in the struggles our ancestors endured to come here.

I Am Not From This Tradition

So far as I have been able to research, I have no roots coming through Ellis Island. The first line in which I was able to trace an immigrant ancestor marked his immigration from Ireland as coming in 1771. Ellis Island opened in 1892. The next line I traced back to the Massachusetts Bay Company. He came over from Wales around 1640. I’ve also been told of a possible connection to the Mayflower. There are more lines to trace but it seems pretty obvious I’m not going to find an Ellis Island ancestor.

Cindy Thomson's Ellis Island Series

So this answers another question I often get. Grace and Annie and Sofia–the main characters of my books in the Ellis Island series–are not based on my ancestors. So, why write about Ellis Island? I believe those immigrants, the ones who came over during the late 19th century and early 20th century, contributed greatly to the world we live in today and I wanted to honor their sacrifices by helping people to remember.

They Built America

Serbian ImmigrantsThe railroads, the Industrial Revolution, modern roadways, the Unions, Women’s Rights, motion pictures, subways…I could go on forever but most of these things were built and created and invented by Ellis Island immigrants or by those who came in the decades right before the immigration center was built. So, they are a part of all of America, a part of the past of all of us.

New York City History

1900s ManhattanAnother answer is the fascinating history of that era in New York. It was definitely something I was interested in. The vast divide between the poor and the rich. The corruption of the police department. The fledging publishing industry. The melting pot of first and second generation immigrants. Sofia’s Tune will end this series, and I’ll feel a little sad to let it go. I’ll probably be reading other novels set in that era and continue to think about those Hawkins House girls.

Are you interested in Ellis Island? Tell me why. :)

My Pet Peeve About Other Writers

This Embarrasses Me About Other Writers

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t ignore it. One of these days I just might say something, but so far I haven’t figured out how to say it. So for now, I’ll just explain here on my blog.

Cindy Thomson's author tableEvery time I go to an event where there are multiple authors there is at least one who hard sells his/her book by telling potential readers that theirs is “a really, really good book.” That “all the reviews have been stellar.” That “everyone who reads it absolutely loves it.” And especially embarrassing, “I guarantee that you are really going to love it.”

Reading is Subjective

Gaelic proverb

On the wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo by Beth

The truth is there is no one book EVERYONE will love. Do you love every book your friend loves? Do you share the same reading tastes as your boss? Have you ever had a hard time figuring out why a certain novel is so popular when you didn’t care for it at all?

I’m guessing you said yes, you have experienced that. So who would actually believe what that author is saying about her own book? Probably no one. She is making herself look foolish or at best, completely ignorant. You might say she was boastful or even arrogant. In any case, as a fellow author sitting nearby, I feel embarrassed.

But it Works!

Read books!If your goal is simply to sell books and bring  home some cash, then yes, it does seem to work. I see authors that run after readers and give their own works high praise sell more books than those of us who don’t do that. I don’t know why people buy. Maybe they believe her, or maybe they are trying to be nice. After all that small talk they feel like they can’t walk away. I don’t know.

Maybe this is the reason that bookstore signings don’t work. The reason people see an author at a table and refuse to make eye contact.

I’d Rather Reach the RIGHT Readership

I’ve worked hard on my books. I want the people I wrote them for to actually read them. I was once at a book festival where an author seated next to me told my husband, “I don’t care if people read my books or not. I just want them to buy them.” Ack! Why bother writing the thing then? I guess I just won’t understand some people. EVER!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy ThomsonTwo young girls stopped at my table last Saturday. They picked up Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories and read the back covers. They said, “This sounds interesting. I don’t think I’d read it but it sounds like something my grandma would like.” Did I argue with them? Did I tell them, “I guarantee that if you buy this you will absolutely love it!” No. I think they are probably right. They said they enjoy fast faced, adventure-like stories. I suggested Brigid of Ireland, but I did not press them. One took a picture of the book cover with her phone. We talked a bit about reading preferences. Why force a book on someone if that person is not your target audience?

Every Writer is in Love With Their Book

It’s true. We all want the whole world to love our stories. But it’s not going to happen. If an author says everyone who has read their book has loved it (and I’ve heard that claim more times than I can count!) it’s a lie. Maybe the author believes it, but it’s still a lie. If every Amazon review is five stars, something is wrong. It’s not honest. There have been people who have hated my books. I’m not sure why they had a such strong reaction, but they did. Thankfully, many more loved them, but reading is subjective. We like different things. It’s how God made us!

Let the Readers Speak

5 star review for Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

Annie’s Stories

That’s what I prefer to do. I may not sell a ton of books at multi-author events, but I will not pressure anyone into buying a copy. I just won’t. That’s not who I am. Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening!

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth–a stranger, and not your own lips. –Proverbs 27:2 NRSV

 

Still Here!

Yes, I am.

writerthinkingThe Life of a Writer

I like blogging. I know some writers dread it, but for me, it’s a way to communicate directly with readers. It takes a looooong time to publish a book. A blog lets me publish something sooner. And I get to write about anything, although on this blog I mostly keep to writing projects, history, and genealogy. But, if I decided to write about baseball, I just might!

However, I don’t end up posting as often as I’d like. Other things take priority, including getting Sofia’s Tune finished (I’m close!) and then when I get a head cold (haven’t had one in two years so I’m pouting!) things slow down.

I Still Chat on Facebook

You can find me at www.facebook.com/cindyswriting and I’d love for you to “like” and “follow” that page so we can keep in touch. Facebook is different, of course, and you never know what I’ll be prompted to post there: pictures, videos, thoughts on writing, links to other blog posts…

Never Fear, I AM Still Here!

All that to say that I’m still around, even when I have to get my head down and keep on writing. Are you around??? Let me know!  :)

Our Ancestors’ Memories

This Book Made Me Think

contentI just finished The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Actually, I listened to an audiobook that was titled Sophia’s Secret, because it was later retitled. It’s the same book.

A novelist gets caught up in her fictional world. That’s not unusual, believe me. But in this story these are her ancestors and she begins to realize their memories have been passed down to her. There is some mention of “genetic memory” and the possibility that DNA, something we don’t completely understand, could also pass down memories.

Genetic Memory

I don’t know anything about Assassins Creed. It’s a video game and apparently uses this concept as well, but here is a fun summary of what this genetic memory in our DNA is about.

We talk all the time about inheriting traits, saying certain things are in our blood. But this goes a bit further, suggesting that genes might have more influence than we thought. Sure, we will learn skills and have opinions and phobias based on how we were raised, but what if a memory was impressed into our DNA that has nothing to do with our experience? It’s fascinating to think about.3103598269_b377f5d4f4_m

Ancestors’ Memories

Cindy Thomson's grandparents

My grandparents

One of the things I really enjoy about the series Who Do You Think You Are is when the subject of the show realizes that something they know about themselves was evident in previous generations. If they have leadership qualities, it is gratifying to find out an ancestor was a senator or led a woman’s suffrage movement. If someone likes music, how cool to find out an ancestor was the church organist or started a music school. Perhaps, if they are a strong believer in social justice, they find out something about an ancestor that helps explain that strong belief.

Passing it Forward

I’m not sure what science will reveal about DNA and genetic memory in the future, but I think it’s clear today–to those who pay attention–that important traits, strengths, beliefs, are passed down. What do you think?

The Journey to Bring Readers Sofia’s Tune

Cindy Thomson's novel Sofia's Tune is coming!A Canceled Book Contract

It happens far more often in the publishing industry than you might think. At first I was crushed, but it happened a few years ago and I’ve recovered. ;-)

It was a business decision, but one that I felt was unfair to readers who liked the series and wanted to see it wrapped up. Grace’s Pictures was hailed by Library Journal as,

GracePicforweb“…a delightful story of overcoming obstacles. Lynn N. Austin fans will savor this historical fiction series debut.”

Grace’s Pictures at this writing has received 143 customer reviews on Amazon, nearly half 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Stories was a 2014 Lime Award Nominee from the Christian Manifesto and Romantic Times gave it a 4-star review. And on Amazon 88% of reviewers gave it four or five stars.

Diane on Amazon wrote:

If you enjoy historical fiction and Christian fiction, Annie’s Stories is a must-read for you. I felt like I was catching up with old friends, and made some new ones that I hope to meet up with again the near future.”

I think readers should be able to catch up with what’s happening in 1903 with these characters and to meet new ones as well.Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

So Why Was the Book Canceled?

Low sales. That is the bottom line. And in this market it is hard to get noticed. I don’t blame my publisher at all for the low sales. They marketed and got it reviewed all over. In fact, I received the most publisher support with these two books than I’ve ever had in my publishing career. Besides low sales, Christian publishers are publishing fewer historical titles these days, and bigger selling authors have become available when their publishers shut down or cut back.

I don’t blame myself either. I worked really hard to get the word out there. In fact, I don’t blame anyone! It’s just the way it is.

Why This is Not as Bad as it Sounds!

Authors have many more options these days. I’m going to publish Sofia’s Tune myself. BUT, having experienced superior editing and outstanding cover design, I will not be content to do a quick and inferior job. And it takes money to publish a great quality book. So I decided to see if readers would like to help with this effort, and I got a great response on Pubslush. I’m continuing the campaign here on my web site until I send the book off to an editor and a cover designer. Here is how you can be a part for as little as $5.

10 Irish Books: Reading Your Way Through St. Patrick’s Day

About St. Patrick

There are many history books and some fiction choices. If you really want to know the man, start with his writings. Two exist: St. Patrick’s Confession

Book of Armagh page

A facsimile page from the Book of Armagh where St. Patrick’s Confession is found. Held at Trinity College in Dublin

and his Letters to the Soldiers of Coroticus. The letter is shorter and meant as an excommunication for Coroticus whose men struck down new converts. The Confession is much longer and is a bit of a biography where we learn about the man.

“I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts.”

But of course his story does not end there. Here are some reading suggestions, in no particular order.

Fiction About St. Patrick

I read this many years ago.

1. Patrick, Son of Ireland by Stephen R. LawheadPatrick by Stephen Lawed

 

I haven’t found much out there. If you know of any St. Patrick’s novels, please leave them in the comments.

2. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola

Patrick post by Cindy Thomson

Learn About Ireland

Of course you can read many books about leprechauns, if you choose. But if you are like me and want more history, here some suggestions.

3. Celtic Wisdom, Treasures From Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Even though it’s short, I’m still proud of the early history squeezed into these page with color photographs. If you’d like an autographed copy, let me know. Click on the picture.

 

About Ireland in General

4. Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookDid you know there are three patron saints of Ireland? (If you’ve read Celtic Wisdom, you do know that!) I still have print copies of Brigid of Ireland, or you can get one on your Kindle (or the Kindle app on your computer) for just a few bucks.

But there are plenty more choices than just my books!

5. How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

 

How the Irish Saved Civilization, top Irish books Cindy Thomson

 

A condensed, but still useful, overview of Irish history according to the influence of the Christian monks.

6. Ireland, a Novel, by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Featuring a seanchai, said to be the last of the itinerant storytellers, I really enjoyed this one.

7. Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford

 Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Rutherford writes Sagas, spanning generations of characters. No one offers so much history in a  500 or so pages like he does.

8. The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House by Sharon Owens, Irish Books Cindy Thomson

For a different pace and a great glimpse into modern Ireland. Funny and entertaining. Owens has others as well.

9. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Barry is a gifted writer so you should check out all his books. I enjoy these types of stories where an elderly character tells about her past.

10. In Search of Ancient Ireland by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton, companion to the PBS Series

In Search of Ancient Ireland by McCaffrey and Eaton/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Truly, if you want to know about Ancient Ireland, read this book. Excellent!

 

Of course there are many more. What Irish books would you recommend for St. Patrick’s Day reading?

You Can Have a Say in What Gets Published

It’s a new world in publishing!

No longer must readers complain that the books they’d like to read aren’t being published. Or music, for that matter. You can help bring the creative works you are interested in to life through crowd funding.

Publishing Involves Financial Risks

Some people blame traditional publishers, thinking they have tons of money and power. But truly publishing a book costs a great deal of money. That’s why I can’t do it myself for low cost–not do it well anyway. Did you know the vast majority of books never earn out the advance against royalties the publisher gives the author? Publishers make money, of course, but most of their profits come from just a few best selling authors.

BUT, readers can still have a say if they want to support “less than best-selling” authors.

Two Things You Can Do Right Now

1. If you are eager to see the publication of the third book of the Ellis Island series come to market, you can help with as little as five dollars. https://pubslush.com/project/5010

2. Share this photo below and more you’ll see from time to time if you like my Facebook Page.

https://pubslush.com/project/5010

https://pubslush.com/project/5010

Keep Telling Your Friends That Everyone Can Have a Say in What Gets Published!

I Need Your Help

Cindy Thomson's novel Sofia's Tune is coming!Bringing You Sofia’s Tune

As many of you know, I’ve been working on book 3 of the Ellis Island series and I’m going to be publishing it myself. I haven’t given up on traditional publishing but I am becoming what is referred to as a “hybrid” author–some of each. I like the way Sofia’s Tune is taking shape. If you are a fan of the series, I think you are going to like it. But the question was, how to bring it to you. It’s not as simple as typing it up and sending it to Kindle Publishing. A good book must have good editing, and a good cover. Those things cost money, and so, that is why when people ask me when it will come out I’ve had no answer. Until now.

Crowd Funding

You may have heard of it. Lots of musicians are using crowd funding to get their music published. I heard of a site called Pubslush that is focused on books and magazines. It made sense to me that readers who are anxiously waiting for a book could have a say in when it gets published. While you donate money, you do get a reward, which depending on the level can be a copy of the finished product, some gifts, even the ability to have a say in the cover and name characters.

Funding Sofia’s Tune

So I’m all set up on Pubslush! Click here! I’ve sent my goal to deliver my the end of this year. I’m hoping I can get on a really good editor’s schedule in time to make that happen. I write books for readers, so this made perfect sense to me. I hope you’ll support my campaign!

 

Support Sofia’s Tune! Click Here!

Ireland’s Connection to Valentine’s Day

The Irish St. Valentine Connection

This post originally appeared on my blog, Celtic Voices.
A Victorian ValentineHappy St. Valentine’s Day!You’ve probably read on other blogs that there were at least three martyred saints named Valentine, one of which is said to have died on February 14, thus the date of this observance. You may have read that just like other church observances, this one was set to coincide with a pagan festival, to draw attention away from it, in this case a fertility feast. You’ve probably also read that the exchange of valentine cards originated during Victorian times.

But did you know about the Irish connection? In the nineteenth century there was a Carmelite priest who was well known for his preaching and his service to the poor. Fr. John Spratt helped establish the Irish Carmelite order and was responsible for acquiring for the church the property that had once housed a 13th century Carmelite monastery on Whitefriar Street in Dublin in 1825. He visited Rome in 1835 and was invited to speak to the Jesuits the following February and was transported there in the carriage of the Cardinal who was the Pope’s advisor on affairs in England and Ireland. He visited more cities but somehow on that journey he was awarded with the relics of a 3rd century martyr, Saint Valentine.

Whitefriar Street Church
Photo by William Murphy

That is how St. Valentine’s remains (at least in part) came to be held at Whitefrair Street Church in Dublin, one of the city’s largest churches. They were forgotten for a time because the shrine was built in modern times.

Here is a photo of the outside of Whitefriar Street Church. I haven’t been there, but it looks like you could walk right past it without realizing the history it contains. Update: I can now say I have been there!

It seems to me that since so little is known about St. Valentine, Fr. Spratt might be the more interesting figure. He certainly gets lost in the story. He was charitable and showed the love of Jesus to the starving, the orphans, the homeless on the streets of the city where he was born and lived most of his years and died. He was so loved by the people that his death was mourned greatly. His example for the rest of us is something to strive for. I love my sweetheart, truly, but romantic love was not what the feast day was originally focused on. Just something to think about. I still think you should enjoy your chocolate today!
:-)

Box of Chocolates
Photo by
By Svadilfari


References:
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/92645667/FATHER-JOHN-SPRATT-BELOVED-OF-DUBLINS-POOR

http://attractions.uptake.com/blog/st-valentine-dublin-ireland-9215.html

http://www.carmelites.ie/ireland/Whitefriar%20St/valentine.htm