Author Archives: cthomson

Festival Recap

How It Began

DIF 2017. Missing: Brenna Briggs, Therese Gilardi, Ben Anderson

First, let me say the people at the Dayton Celtic Festival were very good to me. They stopped by to talk about Ireland and genealogy, and which books of mine they’ve read. They bought a lot of books, and it was my privilege to be able to sign them for folks. They were also good at making St. Brigid’s crosses! Excellent students. 🙂 Heather has worked hard to grow the Cultural Area, and she is a delight.

But the week brought some tough news for no less than five people in various walks of my life: cousins, prayer partners, my son’s National Guard unit (there was a fatal car accident), and one of the festival authors who normally would have been at the Dublin Festival. Really, really tough stuff.

So when I got to the Dublin Festival, I admit I was not in the best of moods. And then our tent looked backwards to us. We were convinced no one would find us this year, and Friday sales were slim.

But, there are some fantastic authors in that tent. Add in some Irish humor from a couple of the new authors, and things got better. As a whole the festival was very good for me, and I hear it was for the other authors as well. The fantastic weather on Saturday brought a ton of people to the festival and at times our tent filled up with book browsers.

I just found out what happens when a writer leaves her computer for a weekend. #connecting… Click To Tweet

The Readers Show Up

Oh, my goodness. I talked to so many interesting people. I can’t begin to describe all the conversations I had, so I’ll just share a few.

This young woman, Rebecca, has become a big fan. She’s read the entire Ellis Island Series, and is currently reading Brigid of Ireland. She picked up Pages of Ireland at the festival. She makes me think I better get a move on with the next novel! She’s so faithful to email me, read my newsletter, and show up at my appearances. It’s for readers like Rebecca that I’ve written these stories.

This is Jessica Krcal. She stopped by because her boss sent her. You see her boss, Lexi, is my friend from my youth group days. And she doesn’t live in Ohio. Neither does Jessica. They are in Virginia. Jessica was visiting family and planned to come to the festival. When Lexi heard that, she said go see my friend Cindy. So she got this photo to show her boss she followed up. 🙂

And I met a young woman named Autumn, who had bought a book last year. I had a nice chat with her and her friend. Turns out Autumn works for a book printer and they do work for Tyndale, one of my publishers!

Another woman popped in to tell me she bought Brigid of Ireland the weekend before in Dayton. She said she enjoyed it and read it in two days!

A few readers who get my newsletter and/or follow me on Facebook stopped by to tell me that. A young woman who was named after St. Brigid decided she must get Brigid of Ireland. I talked to several people about places in Ireland and about their genealogy. I signed a copy of Brigid for a young girl whose mother a few months ago gave birth prematurely. Her dad told us a bit of the struggle that family is having but things are improving and they are coping. Several people told us how very much they love books!

And then these folks stopped by.

Can you see what is on the leash?

Yes, I Did Talk

I had a talk on Saturday titled, Turning Novels Into Novels. I read excerpts from my books. There was a decent size audience and they were attentive, which is always nice. 🙂 On Sunday the group was smaller, but still attentive and even asked some good questions. That topic was The Ancient Books of Ireland, a bit of the research I enjoyed doing that didn’t make it into my novels.

So, Pretty Good!

Even with the bad hair days I had.

I also enjoyed catching up with some vendors I know. I met a new lady too. She makes embroidered designs copied from grave markers in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and frames them. She told me how she got this inspiration, and how she kept dreaming about these designs until she landed on the idea to make them into wall hangings and then the dreams stopped. She doesn’t want them on clothing. She wants to respect the original intent of the families who erected these markers. She lives here in Ohio.

And Tom and I enjoyed the festival finale before we went home and fell exhausted into our bed. I have since received some emails and Facebook messages from readers, and fun chatter with the authors and Barb, our author’s corner coordinator who is so good to us. Oh, and one more thing I want to mention: The Book Loft!  Julie, Sean, Josh, and Ross, are such nice people not to mention knowledgable about all kinds of books. If you are in Columbus don’t miss visiting the unique book shop, The Book Loft.

Because I Don’t Get Out Much

SharingWriting is by necessity a solitary endeavor. So it’s great to get out and meet the people who will read your books. And connect with friends and family who came to the festival. I’ve heard it said that to write a novel people will want to read, you have to have experiences, which means you can’t stay behind your desk all the time! This time of the summer and fall is my time to do that. Make sure you get my newsletter to find out what else is in store.

Been to any good festivals lately? Tell me about it in the comments.

Today’s Research: Humorous Scribes

What Your Teacher Wasn’t Suppose to Read

I’ve read some of these before, little notes written in margins or on scraps found inside book bindings. I can relate right now to these medieval scribes. See if you can figure out why.

photo by Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts

Complaints by Medieval Scribes

  • New parchment, bad ink; I say nothing more.

  • This page has not been very slowly written.

  • The parchment is hairy. The ink is thin.

  • Thank God it will soon be dark.

  • Oh, my hand.

  • Now I’ve written the whole thing. For Christ’s sake, give me a drink.

  • Writing is excessive drudgery. It crooks your back, it dims your sight, it twists your stomach and your sides.

  • St. Patrick from Armagh, deliver me from writing.

And my favorite:

  • As the harbor is welcome to the sailor, so is the last line to the scribe.

I’m a long way from the last line right now.

How I Would Rewrite These Scribe Complaints

  • New version of Word crashing. I say nothing more.

  • This page HAS been very slowly written.

  • Laptop battery is dead. The charge is slow.

  • Oh God, why did you create electricity?

  • Oh, my hand. (And wrists, and shoulders, and elbows.)

  • I can’t seem to write the whole thing. Give me a drink!

  • Writing is excessive drudgery. It crooks your back, it dims your sight, it twists your stomach and your sides. (I couldn’t improve on this one!)

  • Oh shopping girlfriend, save me from writing.

  • As the hot tub is welcome to sore muscles, so is the typing of The End to the novelist.

I feel a kinship to these ancient scribes, although my complaints are nearly as charming.

Today’s Research Brought Music!

Enya’s Son Update

I was searching a place where my character Enya is from. She has escaped a painful childhood, and just got some sad news about that place. And I find this. I hope you enjoying listening as much as I did. I don’t know what the Irish means, but I do know the song mentions this place.

 

Archaeology and Historical Novels

photo by Tim Regan

Exciting New Discoveries!

Those of us who read historical novels like there to be some accuracy in them. The story needs to be true to its setting. Since I having been writing stories set in ancient Ireland, in the 5th and 6th centuries, much of what I write about is based, necessarily, on legends. The setting is the best I can make it with what is known, thanks in great part to archaeological discoveries. And as technology gets better, more is proven and discovered, which I think is really exciting.

The Discovery of St. Columcille’s Cell on Iona

photo by Tim Regan

When I read this, I was really excited because I’m currently writing about St. Columcille! The end of the story will put him in this cell, that was discovered about sixty years ago but only recently dated to his lifetime. Where I’m at now in writing the novel, he’s not on Iona yet, but I’m following the stories of his life and will get there. Proving that a figure from so long ago actually was in the place where historical accounts put him, and that the whole story is not a fantasy, is really incredible if you think about it.

Read the article from the BBC by clicking here.

The Truth of Old Celtic Stories…

…are often not the point of telling them.

The Storyteller
photo by Hans Splinter

The spiritual significance of these historical figures lies in what we can apply to our lives and how we might carry on the legacy of faith. That’s why I write my novels. But sometimes I do get critics who insist these people never really lived, never really carried on the way the legends say they did, never could have accomplished the feats that made them into saints.

But I say, not so fast. To believe that is to deprive ourselves of the privilege, and the responsibility, of striving to do the same. If we don’t live lives worthy of having tall tales told about us one day, we’ve failed to carry the torch and give our lives real meaning. So I say be inspired by the tales of old, and realize that you too can make a difference.

 

Reenactments For the Novelist

Since I write historical fiction, I’m really interested in reenactments. There are plenty of Civil War and pioneer reenactments around here, but that’s not the era I’m currently writing in. So you can imagine how excited I was to find this video. It may not completely describe my setting—this one claims to be pre-historic to early Christian, which is a huge range—but overall it gives you a very good feel of the word of Columcille and his mother Eithne (Enya.)

 

 

 

Book Review: Second Guessing God

Second Guessing God: Hanging On When You Can’t See His Plan by Brian Jones

From Amazon:

“Why does God allow bad things to happen?” This book is Jones’s response to that question. Like a good friend, Brian comes alongside those seeking help in trials of life to help them find meaning and strength.

 

While there is nothing shockingly new in this book, it’s a wonderful testimony of what Brian Jones has learned in his life. He writes in a relatable voice that feels as though you are having a conversation in his study.

There were a couple of places that really spoke to me. The chapter on Doubt is honest and impactful. Jones says, “At the heart of a life filled with unanswered questions lies the very nature of Christianity. Our faith is about a relationship with Jesus, not an adherence to a set of intellectual ideas we can memorize and master. Doubt reminds us of this.”

Another part that stood out to me was the chapter on Church. “We’ve become a nation of church shoppers…If the preaching gets boring at our church, we pull out the yellow pages. If the worship style changes, we go to First Church’s early service. If our Sunday School class starts to get too impersonal, we don’t sweat it; we try the hot new church in town..I can’t help but think this must make God sad….If you jump ship when things get tough, you’ll condemn yourself to one long journey of spiritual superficiality.” He goes on to give the example of his parents who have attended the same church for decades. He says, “…they’ll look back and savor the memories a lifetime of faithful participation in one congregation brings. They’ll look back and relish the dangerous conversations they didn’t avoid, sins they were encouraged to confront, and authentic Christian friendships it took a lifetime to develop.”

Just a few examples of the kind of personal, heartfelt conversations that this book makes you feel like you are having.

Response to “Get Rid of Your Guns”

This is a departure from my usual blogging. We read to escape reality sometimes, but the truth is, we do have to live in the present. I promise after this I’ll go back to my usual topics.

America Gets Advice From Europe

I read a tweet this morning that prompted me to write this. It wasn’t from someone I follow, but was a RT from someone I follow. This person is probably European, I would guess, because I have read similar things from non Americans in Europe. The writer was referring to the shooting on a baseball field in Alexandria, VA, and a shooting at a UPS facility in San Francisco that happened on the same day.

This is basically what it said:

Dear America, Shooting elected officials. Shooting co-workers. Always shooting. Get rid of your guns. There is a better way.

via Flickr jiejun tan

Dear Europeans, Learn the Truth

Via Flickr Michael Dougherty

People who don’t live in America and haven’t traveled here have been misled to think that Americans are all armed, walking around with rifles and hand guns, engaging in gun fights like the old Wild West. But think about that. If that were true dozens of people yesterday would not have had to run for shelter. Those there that day would not have reason to say what Representative Rand Paul said: “Our lives were saved by Capitol Police. Had they
not been there, I think it would have been a massacre.”

Get rid of our guns? Who exactly are you addressing with that statement?

Better Advice

Dear America, improve your justice system. Improve your mental health programs. Report suspicious behavior. Be vigilant. Pray for peace.

But whatever you believe, know that Americans are not always shooting each other. We don’t condone this stuff.

Of course we agree there is a better way. There is no need to tell us that. Of course we don’t believe the way to influence politics is to shoot those who disagree. (That country does exist, but it’s not us!) These shootings are the work of mentally unstable people who got their hands on guns. That is what needs to be addressed. That is not America. If you believe that, you’ve been misled.

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