A Woman’s Place

Women in Church

We have a woman pastor, and for the United Methodist Church, that is not an unusual thing. It’s the first time I believe in my particular church. It has, therefore, brought up the question (so I’ve heard, I’ve not been in these discussions) about the appropriateness of women in leadership positions in the church.

woman praying

photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveclarkecb/

I Am Just a Woman, Called by God

I think it’s ridiculous to even have that discussion. A 91-year-old woman I know repeatedly says, “They are called by God just like a man is.” But still it persists. Some even say there is Biblical reason for their belief that women should not be in leadership.

Royal Anglian Regiment Parade 129: The Reverend Jacky Page Photo by Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors

Royal Anglian Regiment Parade 129: The Reverend Jacky Page
Photo by Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors

The First Woman Preacher

I don’t listen to this much, but today it came to mind because when I went to www.sacredspace.ie for my devotional, I discovered it’s the saint day for Mary Magdalene. Therefore, the scripture is about her: John 20:1-2, 11-18. As I read it, it hit me. What if Mary had not been allowed to “preach?”

 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan, Book Review

Reading Widely

That’s what I try to do, and sometimes that means reading books not yet published in this country. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of The Dress by Kate Kerrigan. If you can, order it from the UK.

My Review

The DressThe Dress by Kate Kerrigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan combines fashion and one’s search for love beautifully in a tale that spans generations. Told with an obviously deep knowledge of the world of fashion design, this novel made me root for Honor and Joy, the two main characters in the 1950s tale, and certainly for poor workaholic Lily in the modern tale whose grandfather’s past in Ireland is a mystery to her. There were a lot of characters in this novel, and at first I did not understand how their stories would connect, but wanting to know what would happen to them kept me turning pages, and the beautiful message that Honor learns late in her life gave me that satisfied sigh that I’m always looking for in a book. Recommended for those who love stories that dig to a level deeper than mere romance to explore human relationships and family legacies.

View all my reviews

I Am an American!

Family Tree. Tracing your Scots-Irish roots.

With my interest in genealogy, you might think I’d call myself Irish, or Scots-Irish, or even Welsh. But I don’t. I’m an American born to American parents. My family tree is so rooted in America no one remembers who came over (until I did the research, of course.) But we know someone did. We’re Americans, after all. Not Native Americans.

My Birthplace

Ohio Barn www.cindyswriting.comI was born in Kansas, but I don’t identify with Kansas (sorry.) I only lived there the first three months of my life. My mom packed me and my sisters up and moved us to Indiana while my dad served in the army in Korea. When he came back we went to AZ, then Alaska. Then he retired and we returned to AZ. A few years later we moved to Ohio and I’ve been an Ohioan since the second grade, which I believe makes me more of a Buckeye than anything else. Yes, I’m an American.

My Roots are in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England

High Cross www.cindyswriting.comMostly. So I tell people who ask I’m American with Irish roots. (If they want to know more, I’ll tell them about the rest of my lines.) I know some people visit Ireland and tell the Irish people that they too are Irish, when actually, they are American. This can be offensive to some people because it sounds like you are marginalizing their ethnicity and cultural pride. If you didn’t grow up eating at a chipper, don’t know what colcannon is and can’t pronounce taoiseach, stop insisting you are Irish. Instead, embrace being an American.

What Americans Understand That Others Don’t

American Flag

Lee Coursey

If you know the rules of baseball, you’ve been to at least two Great Lakes, have eaten sweet corn in July, have seen a tractor pull, eaten cotton candy, played corn hole, eat turkey on Thanksgiving but not usually on Christmas, you are an American. :)

Americans understand that states have rights. They appreciate the veterans of (too) many wars for protecting their freedom. They believe in freedom of speech. They hold to the faith that every voice should and will be heard, and that majority rules–like it or not. They are a bit “old-fashioned” at times and completely unorthodox at others. History matters to most Americans, even history that is not that old in European terms. They are as varied as a people can be, but stand together when terrorists threaten.

Be Proud!

Flag of the 89th OVI Civil War

Battle flag of the Ohio 89th, Civil War unit my ancestor served with.

I seriously feel a strong pull to Ireland. If you follow me, you know that. I always want to know more about the land, history, and its people. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m proud to be an American. I don’t want to live anywhere else. Visit? Absolutely! Move? Never.

This was my patriotic post for the year. Happy 4th of July!

 

Comment if you are proud of where you come from!

Books by Cindy Thomson

Writing Globally

Recently on Twitter I saw this picture:

On Twitter

American Politics Abroad

And it immediately reminded me how many people we met while in Ireland who asked about how we felt about the Clintons or about Obama or Bush. They wanted to know how Americans felt, and I quite honestly said that I didn’t feel right speaking for all Americans. Perhaps it’s the size difference in countries or how they view politics. I just didn’t understand it. So, when I saw this, I posted a response saying how I didn’t understand why other countries jump into our politics.

Maybe I should have worded it differently. Maybe it sounded snooty. I meant it literally. I didn’t say this but looking at that tweet I wondered… “their” candidate? As I said, I don’t get it. And for me, I dread the upcoming election. I’m tired of politicians and their games. Why would you want to get into this when you didn’t have to? (I know lots of people are politically active. No criticism intended.)

And then I got this:

On Twitter

 

Woo. I tried to keep the conversation going, saying, no, I am puzzled. But David, it seemed, was finished. I’d been judged.

To Whom Does a Country Belong?

And of course, this got me thinking some more. I have never claimed to be anything but American. We know because of a current ethnic denial that the public looks down on this sort of thing, for the most part. I know I’m American. My research has shown my family has been in America long before we were even a country, about 150 years before in one line. Sometimes at book signings people ask me if I’m Irish and I reply that I have Irish roots way back.

af90c-dunluce-meme

So why write about a country that you personally are not from? Well, if I wrote about Kansas, where I was born, I wouldn’t know much about it. I only lived there the first three months of my life. I haven’t done the research. But I have researched Ireland because of my genealogy search and just because it interests me, greatly. Is that wrong? I never thought so. I still don’t. David on Twitter was just spouting off. I’ve met plenty of people from Ireland who seem to appreciate my work. My first two Irish books were published by a British publisher. They didn’t mind I was American. If you research, you can write about any country in the world, and in fact, by doing so you help enlighten the people in your own country, who will be primarily the ones who read your stuff anyway.

I have a friend who lives in Northern Ireland. Most of his writing is about Americans with Irish roots. He has traced their history here, and he knows a lot about it, more than most Americans know. He is writing often about his kin, those who left Ireland and came here, and I am doing just the opposite when I trace my line from here back there.

America is a Melting Pot That Some Want to Deny

Students at Ellis IslandA few months ago I was scolded by a Scottish man for claiming a connection to Scotland (He might have had too much whiskey because his posts consisted of scattered thoughts.) Well, it’s a historical fact that at least one of my ancestors was born in Scotland, moved to Ireland, and then on to America. I do have a Scottish connection, whether he liked it or not. (You can search for his comments here on this blog if you’re interested. I’m not going to link to it because….well, it was just silly.)

Here is where I think the misunderstanding comes from. The United States is by and large a country of immigrants. And as such, we identify with many other countries. In contrast, those whose families have lived in an area for many generations, as far back as can be remembered, identify themselves as wholly that–Irish, Scottish, French, German or wherever they’re from…and some of them have a strong dislike for Americans who seem to want to say they are one of them. They aren’t at all, in their minds. I’m all for pride in one’s heritage, but I think that’s taking it a bit too far.

Tom&Cindy Thomson, Ireland 2010

Our 2010 trip to Ireland, taking at Inch Abbey, County Down, Northern Ireland.

To be fair these people who pop up on Twitter or Facebook or even this blog are few compared to those who are welcoming, helpful, and interested in the stories from Americans about those who immigrated. I’m thankful for that. It helps lead to understanding and peace, no matter their political preference.

What do you think?

Birth Order and Fictional Characters

My Ellis Island Characters

So far I’ve avoided birth order with my series, pretty much anyway. Grace McCaffery was an only child until she was an adult. Of course, she did work as a nanny for four children, so there was some sibling rivalry there that she had to work to understand, but basically she was an only child.Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

And then Annie Gallagher. She was only child. Her mother died after Annie was born and her father never remarried. She had a special relationship with her father, very different than Grace’s experience.

Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

And now Sofia’s Tune. She is the oldest of five children, plus their entire neighborhood consists of people who lived near each other back in Italy. She feels protective, impatient, and sometimes ignored–all within her family unit. Is she a typical oldest child? Yes and no.

Friends as Family

You may have noticed if you’ve read these books, but friends become family as these immigrants have to redefine their lives. Historically, the people who came through Ellis Island often left their families on the other side of the Atlantic. They built new family units.

This idea intrigues me. I want to know, do you count some friends as family?

1934Siblings in Fiction

227571Countless novels have featured siblings or explored birth order and relationships. Little Women, for instance or Peace Like a River, just to name two. Which are your favorites?

 

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.

Whose 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?