Look Out the Window

Advice From Fellow Authors About Life

Photo by Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

About five years ago the Christian writing community lost a novelist named Diann Hunt to cancer. She bravely wrote about her struggle in her last years, and I followed her on Facebook. In her last few months (she passed away in late November) she gave advice freely, not just on writing, but on life and the things that matter. I’ll never forget reading her words when she said, “Stop whatever you are doing right now and look out your window.” I was reading Facebook, so I looked away from my computer to my window and saw the most dazzling sight. It was autumn and the sun was striking the gold leaves outside my window at such an angle that they actually glowed. It was an amazing sight and I would have missed it if Diann hadn’t told me to look.

Another author, Liz Curtis Higgs, can always be depended on to shine God’s light and encouragement into our lives. She is also a cancer patient, but doing well right now. My goodness she has 30 appearances scheduled this fall! She was speaking at conference I attended recently and she was talking about humor. She said there is plenty to write about. “Just look out the window!” She’s right. Life gives us plenty to write about if we will just look. It also gives us plenty to reflect on.  When Liz said that, and repeated it a few more times, I was instantly taken back to that day I did look because of what Diann advised. I could have missed it. I could be missing plenty right now. So might you.

Photo by Kaye Hanson on Unsplash

Beauty All Around

We get so busy, don’t we? We forget. All it takes is a moment to refresh ourselves and to remember that there is a Creator who is constantly creating beauty whether we remember to look or not.

So, look out your window (or look up from your phone) and tell me what you see right now.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

September 2018 New Releases

 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

A Baby for the Minister by Laurel Blount — Jilted at the altar, Natalie Davis has no one she can turn to—until Jacob Stone steps in. The single minister’s drawn to the beautiful mommy-to-be and wants to help…even if it goes against his congregation’s wishes and could cost him his job. But when she refuses to accept charity, can he convince her she’s more than a ministry project? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Her Secret Heart by Mary Davis — Deborah Miller lives a double life as an Amish woman—and a fashion model! All photography is forbidden in her Plain community, so she must keep her job a secret. But when Amos Burkholder starts helping at her family’s farm, hiding the truth from him is impossible. And soon she must choose between the Englischer world of modeling and the Amish man she’s come to love. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

12 Gifts of Christmas by Lena Nelson Dooley — Can Malcolm MacGregor, a contemporary descendant of Scottish lairds, capture the heart of Brazilian-Italian beauty, Alanza Cantalamessa, in 12 days? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

All Made Up by Kara Isaac — Katriona McLeod has never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she’s ever loved. When she accepts a job as a make up artist on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she’s cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Holiday Wedding by Carrie Lighte — On the brink of losing her bakery, the last thing Faith Yoder’s interested in is courting—until Hunter Schwartz returns to Willow Creek. After hiring him to deliver her treats to a Christmas festival, Faith’s determined their relationship will stay strictly professional. But despite a secret that’s kept her single, Faith can’t help but wish she and Hunter could become husband and wife. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Holiday by Marissa Shrock — The Christmas season greets Georgia Winston with a new boyfriend (maybe), a Christmas program to run, and a man dying at her feet. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction

From the Lake to the River by JPC Allen, Bettie Boswell, Carole Brown, Sandra Merville Hart, Tamera Lynn Kraft, Sharyn Kopf, Michelle Levigne, Cindy Thomson, and Rebecca Waters — Set in Ohio, in the past and present, these nine short stories and novellas by Ohio authors cover a wide range of genres, topics and locations. From Troy in the west to the North Coast and south-central Ohio. From Lake Erie to the Ohio River. From romance to YA adventure, with touches of mystery and humor. Dealing with historical events and situations, such as floods and the lasting effects of the Civil War. With characters involved in square dancing, theater, and music. Dealing with loss and danger, a second chance at love and taking a chance on love for the first time. Chances are good, no matter what you have a taste for reading, you’ll find something to like. Welcome to a taste of the Buckeye State! (General Contemporary from Mt Zion Ridge Press)

Place Called Home by Brenda S. Anderson — While building his graphic design company, Nate Brooks is focused on the future he’s dreamed of: traveling around the country from the comfort of his renovated school bus. But when he picks up a wounded, mysterious hitchhiker, those well-laid plans take a backseat to protecting her. Hobbled by her injury, and unable to keep running from her controlling ex, Tessa fears she’ll never find freedom. Or has she found it with the family who graciously opens their home to her? And will Nate’s protection put his family–and his heart–at risk? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann Nelson — Jillian Connors has big expectations for her teenage daughter, Gabby, an Olympic hopeful—until Gabby becomes pregnant with her boyfriend Travis’s child. Meanwhile, Margaret Owens is furious that Gabby’s condition jeopardizes her son’s baseball scholarship. In the midst of the family drama lies the fate of the unborn baby. What does the future hold for him? (General Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Historical:

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson — A gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted the evils of the Hitler regime in their own extraordinary way. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick — A Victorian woman who traveled 15,000 miles by stage between 1870-98 decides to tell the story behind her memoir believing her husband will never see it. (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Enya’s Son by Cindy Thomson — This retelling of the early life of St. Columcille and his mother will usher readers on a fateful journey through ancient Ireland’s monastic centers, her wild coastline islands, and the land Columcille believed was filled with holy angels, a place where he felt safe … yet was destined to abandon. (Historical, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:

Victorian Christmas Brides by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstads, and Erica Vetsch — Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Esther’s Temptation by Lena Nelson Dooley — Saddle weary, former deputy US Marshal Jac Andrews rides into Denton, Texas hunting a swindler-and-daughter criminal team and finally feels he’s caught up to them. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted by the lovely redhead, Esther Brians. Esther, feeling like an old maid surrounded by all her close friends who are happy married couples, is drawn to the intense gaze, blue as the Texas sky, of an unknown cowboy. But several things cause her to become wary of his intentions—and his spiritual well-being. Has this unsaved lawman captured Esther’s heart or will the Lord deliver her from the temptation of Jac’s presence? What will it take for Jac to win this lovely lady and become Esther’s husband? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler — Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents’ insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother’s name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother’s place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Romantic Suspense:

Loving the Texas Negotiator by Mary Connealy — Beth Garrison is the top hostage negotiator in Rocky Ridge Texas. She’s called in to a task force to investigate a killing that is a copy cat of her first bust as a rookie cop. The Valentine Killer.
Tate McCade, with the best arrest record on the force and a reputation for steamrolling anyone who gets in his way, heads the task force. He’s had a run-in with Beth and her oversized ego. He’s got a bruise on his face to prove it. Rather than have the pleasure of busting her back to walking a beat, he has to work with her. And the clock is ticking because there’s a woman and child missing and nothing about the crime adds up. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Speculative:

Guardian of Ajalon by Joan Campbell — The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, her only respite is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock. Unwilling to sit idly by as her kingdom is destroyed, Queen Nyla leaves her hiding place to recruit a most unlikely army—the Charab. But how can she win over the infamous assassins who have been oppressed by her family for generations? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)

Stories About Ohio!

Available now for pre-order. Releases Sept 1! It was a lot of fun to be part of this anthology. I believe readers are really going to enjoy it. The stories are uplifting and varied, something for everyone! My story, Evie’s Letter, is set in Cardington, Ohio.

A group of ladies in Cardington, Ohio, are answering letters to Santa. One letter from the daughter of a Confederate soldier asks for something more difficult than giving toys and candy. The women must decide if they can put aside their sorrow for the sake of a child.

The book (also available in ebook format) would make a great gift. If you read it, let me know what you think!

 

 

The Best Laid Schemes or How Not to Publish a Book

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

~From To A Mouse by Robert Burns, 1785

Robert Burns wrote that poem after ploughing up a mouse nest, accidentally. If I’ve learned anything this summer-of-trying-to-get-Enya’s-Son-to-readers, it’s that despite my best efforts, my plans may fail. Well, this didn’t fail, just didn’t unfold the way I had pictured.

Here are some highlights:

My editor, God love her, had some unexpected things to deal with and so she was a few months later than we expected in getting my manuscript back to me.

Then once we finished that process, the formatter I’ve used many times before was unavailable. I discovered templates and folks saying it’s easy to format your own. Easy is a relative term…something I will always remind myself of from here on out. It took MUCH longer for me to do this than I anticipated. Page numbers kept disappearing, among other things. Husband helped. He enjoyed this. I…well, did not.

Once I had the files, and the files from my cover designer (one for print, one for ebook) I uploaded them. Error to one of the cover files. Fixed, but that put me back a day. Then error to my content file (print). I had to learn about something I had to do to the file in Adobe Pro, which I had to upload, a free trial. All set, good.

Rush order one copy because the summer festivals are fast approaching. Paid a ton for that one copy, got it…uh, nope. Learned that you can’t use just any font in a book. Teeny words! Free Adobe trial ended so purchased it for one month, reworked the file. Cover designer had to resize his file because now there are a ton more pages, thus changed the spine size. Ok, all set. Maybe I can still make the festival order. After review I was told the cover image wasn’t the right size. This took much back and forth but finally the acceptable file was had and we were ready. But with weekends and the time taken for review, I could only get the books in time for the festivals if it cost me to sell them, in other words if I took a big loss. That did not make sense. So some folks pre-ordered copies from me.

A week later I get my sample copy. The story itself is readable now, yeah! But…there was a printing error on a couple of the front matter pages. My fault? The printer’s fault? Back to live chat. Sent copies of the bad pages. Waiting…

In addition, it appears the map will be difficult to read in the book, no matter what I do. So I’ve put it online where readers can enlarge it if needed. You can find it here.

The book will be published! Hang in there, everybody! The ebook is available and the print should (I repeat, should!) be available Sept. 4. Do me a favor if you like it. Tell everyone. I can use some help. Thanks! 🙂

Enya's Son by Cindy Thomson

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St. Patrick and Easter

A Light in the Darkness

One of my favorite stories about St. Patrick revolves around Easter. In ancient Ireland feast days were launched the night before with a massive fire. In a world without electricity, an outdoor fire must have been visible for miles, a call to the gathering.

The story says that on the eve of the festival of Beltane, the king ordered all fires to be extinguished so that only his ceremonial fire burned on the Hill of Slane.

On the Hill of Slane
From My Visit photo©Cindy Thomson

However, it was also Easter and Patrick and his followers lit their Easter fire. As dark as the night was, that fire could easily be spotted, so the king sent his men to punish these lawbreakers. But God was on Patrick’s side, and he and his followers turned into a herd of deer (shapeshifting was a talent for powerful druids, thus the tale gave a nod to the influence Patrick had.) Thus concealed, Patrick and his followers passed by the army without harm.

This story is beautifully told by John Doan. Watch it below and enjoy his music.

 

Cooking for St. Patrick’s Day

Photo by Maryade

What To Do

For people like me who aren’t interested in going to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day (despite the fact that we’ll surely miss some great music) cooking something traditionally Irish is what we do to celebrate.

I will probably make Irish stew. Since we’re gluten-free and mostly dairy-free here at our house, my options are limited. But I found a great recipe on IrishAmericanMom.com, which is the place you should look if you’re interested in authentic Irish dishes.

Here’s My Stew Recipe

https://www.irishamericanmom.com/2018/01/04/farmhouse-beef-stew/

This is what I’ll be making, thanks to Mairéad, a woman I met briefly when she stopped by my table at the Dublin Irish Festival one year. Her site is definitely worth following.

Irish Soda Bread

https://www.irishamericanmom.com/2012/03/08/irish-raisin-soda-bread/

I’ve made this in the past. Easy, and worth trying, although not as good as what you’ll get in Ireland. I’m told our flour in America is not the same, and who am I to argue? I’ve been to Ireland. Their bread is better.

Here’s What I Want to Make

http://www.grouprecipes.com/112491/irish-northern-irish-potato-bread.html

I’ve had this potato bread in Northern Ireland. I’ve truly never gotten it out of my mind since. I will have to try to a gluten-free version. Wish me luck!

And Speaking of Potatoes

photo by Diane Duane

In Ireland we saw bags of potatoes stacked outside businesses. They had unique names. I had no idea what that meant…that is, until I read Mairéad’s post about the different varieties of potatoes in Ireland that we don’t have here in the U.S. Next time I visit I will definitely try some. Here is a link to her post.

Are you cooking for St. Patrick’s Day? Let me know in the comments and we’d all love links too!

 

 

 

Happy St. Brigid’s Day! (and a giveaway!)

The drawing is over. Robyn was the winner. Thanks for your entries!St. Brigid Stained Glass in IrelandWhy St. Brigid?

I got interested in her long ago. That’s why I wrote my first published novel about her. Wow, it’s been 12 years this March! Today is St. Brigid’s Day!

How I’m Celebrating

I decided to post on Facebook seven of my favorite things about St. Brigid, one of three patron saints of Ireland. I hope you’ll follow. You can find the posts on my Facebook author page here: www.facebook.com/cindyswriting I’ll be posting links to blog articles I’ve written in past years on things like her special cross, her incredible generosity, her connection to spring, and more!

Her Legends Live On

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

Ebook, Book One, Daughters of Ireland

The fact is, there are a lot of people like me who are fascinated by the stories of St. Brigid. Brigid of Ireland is still finding an audience even 12 years later. That fact blesses me beyond belief. I hope you’ll want to learn more. She’s had an influence on all my books in one way or another. Have you noticed? If so, please comment and tell me how. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a wee St. Brigid’s charm! (If you live beyond the U.S., you can still win but will have to pay for postage.) Drawing will be held Feb. 8 and winner must contact me in 24 hours.

Blessings to you!

A Sad But Romantic Story From My Genealogy Research

A True Story

This weekend I uncovered such a touching story and I mentioned I’d found something on Facebook. Many of you are wondering what it was. So now, I’ll tell you. It’s a story from the Thomson family about one of my husband’s distant cousins.

First, How We Found It

It’s true, I got Tom hooked on family research. His long-ago cousins helped, though. One, Clement Rutter Thomson, recorded some family history and put it in a book. Over 200 hand written pages recorded in 1888. And he found it in the State of Ohio Library right here in Ohio. I mean, who has that kind of luck! (I  might be a little jealous.)

However, most of it is not about his direct line. It’s still a fascinating history, though. He’s been trying to connect some dots. When his grandpa was living he wrote down some family history that he’d been told. It goes back to the 16th century in Scotland, but we haven’t so far been able to verify it. In Grandpa’s notes, he said his uncle had found this Scottish information in the library and gave his research to his eldest nephew. So, we thought we’d try to trace this nephew who by now had to be deceased, but maybe he had kids and grandkids and they had it. We discovered he only had one son, who was named after him, both them being Burdette Thomson. Fortunately not a common first name. And then we discovered that Burdette Jr. had also passed away leaving no children. He is buried in Ohio, but had died in Florida in 2003. His wife, Christa, died in 1963.

Christa Made the Newspaper

Someone on Ancestry typed out the newspaper story that appeared in April 1960. I discovered that several papers across the country carried it. It explained why there were no children. Here it is:

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Christa Thomson holds her breath each time she strokes a canvas with her brush. She paints with her teeth.

Paralyzed from the shoulders down, the pretty 34-year-old German refugee has solved the problem of enforced idleness.

Four years ago she and her fiance, Burdette Thomson Jr., went swimming at nearby Indian Lake. Christa dived into shallow water and broke her neck.

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