Author Archives: cthomson

Writing Your Genealogy

My Library Presentation

on Unsplash.com Roman Kraft
@romankraft

I was asked to make presentations at four branch libraries in Belmont County, OH. It was so fun to do this because the topic requested was how to write your family’s story after you’ve done the research.

Beyond Facts, Dates, and Sources

What genealogy enthusiast hasn’t tried to tell his or her family the genealogy story and been disappointed with the response. Eye rolling, blank stares…

Well, what is needed here is a story! If you are not a writer that could seem daunting, so I’ve made up a little outline to help. (Click to enlarge picture)

Timelines Are Essential

The main thing I want to point out here, the best way to get started, is to use a historical timeline. There are many online. Once you decide what ancestor you are going to use in your story, look at the times he/she lived in. Some of what happened may not have effected him/her, some may have, and some things certainly will have. Look at local history along with political events and natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. Once you see what was happening at the time, a story may surface.

Of course we are always looking at wars: Civil War, WWII… but there are other things that happened: inventions, discoveries, industrial advances, labor strikes, mine disasters, train wrecks, protests, crop failures. Sometimes you will need to look for lesser known events.

For instance, I looked at the period of time in which my maternal grandfather was in the army, 1904-1906. It was not wartime, and yet it was an interesting time in history.  I’ll share the story I wrote about him, the one I shared with the library groups.

William Taylor Brown

WT Brown

William Taylor Brown (referred to as Taylor or WT) traveled from his home in the rural, rolling hills of Kentucky to the big city of Lexington to embark on a journey that would ensure he would never again be an isolated country boy unfamiliar with the ways of the world.

Born in 1880, during the time of violent family feuds in Kentucky, Taylor grew up in a family of eleven children. The industrial revolution passed rural Kentucky by. Nearly every family farmed for a living, most raised tobacco. Opportunities were few. Not many children continued their education beyond elementary school because they were needed to work the farm. Taylor had many scars on his body, as noted when at the age of 22, in April of 1904, he enlisted in the United States Army. Those scars may have been the result of farming injuries or perhaps he obtained them from fights. It is not known if his family participated in the feuds taking place all around them. His enlisting officer noted him as having good character.

He was sent to report to the Presidio in San Francisco, California. One can only imagine the train ride across the country. Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona were not yet admitted to the Union. Utah had only become a state eight years earlier. He would have marveled at bison on the plains, cattle drives, dust storms, and mountains much loftier than those he was used to in the east and snowcapped. He may have ridden the rails with folks ill with tuberculous who were bound for Colorado since the trend was to recuperate there at the time.

Photo by 223 223 on Unsplash

The Presidio had been a military establishment since it was founded by Spain in 1776. The U.S. Army took residence there beginning in 1848. It was the departure site for troops deploying to the Philippines when Taylor Brown was sent there. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the year before. It was a bustling military base near the city of San Francisco decades before the Golden Gate Bridge was built but 55 years after the Gold Rush ballooned the population.

Photo from the California State Archives online

Taylor Brown shipped off to the Philippines on June 1, 1904. It took 25 days to sail there, yet another adventure for the Kentucky boy. Six years earlier Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. Not wishing to be ruled by yet another nation, the people rebelled, and war broke out until the insurrection ended in 1902 and a provisional government was set up.

Clashes and guerilla warfare still broke out, however, over the next decade, thus the need for an American military presence and the reason Taylor Brown ended up there for eight months. A law was passed stating the island country would become independent eventually. It’s possible Taylor was involved in construction while in the Philippines. (Military history of Pasay Garrison during his stay is available in NARA but I have not yet explored it.)

He returned to San Francisco in March of 1905. His enlistment was for three years so he remained at his station and was there when on April 18, 1906, the great earthquake hit just after 5:00 in the morning.

Army troops provided security, fought fires, and provided all kinds of aid including building shelters. Later Taylor Brown would speak of fighting fires after the ’06 earthquake to his children.

WT with wife Lola and some of their children.

Almost exactly a year later Taylor was discharged from the army and returned to Kentucky. He worked as a laborer hauling logs and farmed. He stayed single for nine years. (edit: I believe he was married before marrying my grandmother, but it looks like relationships were difficult for him.) Perhaps he was not ready for family life after all he’d seen and done in the army. Or perhaps it was his childhood that influenced his choices. While he loved his children, his marriage was filled with strife and separation followed.

Family lore says that he was a hard man, although he loved his children. He stayed in the hills where he had been raised until his death at age 65. Perhaps the hardships he’d seen while serving affected him. Perhaps his upbringing poorly prepared him for family life. While these are only speculations, understanding his military service may help explain some of his future difficulties. He did raise a child who loved him, my mother. And that may be his greatest legacy after all.

A Story Is Better

Don’t you think? I could have said my grandfather was married twice and had served in the army and was in San Fransisco during the Great Earthquake. But for me, those facts only bring questions. With a little thought and a little historical research, you can help your relatives become just as interested in genealogy as you are. Every life has a story…or two.

Festival Recap

Dayton Celtic Festival

This festival is held every year on the last weekend of July. The cultural area is only open Saturday and Sunday, although that could change in the future because it’s influenced by whether or not the Dayton Dragon baseball team has a game or not. The cultural area is in the concourse in front of the stadium.

I did this festival many years ago when it was in another location. When the festival expanded to use Riverscape, Heather Schieman, the Cultural Area Director, contacted me. For a few years, I was the only author. Last year I was joined by Terrence O’Leary and this year David McDonnell joined us. It was HOT! The crowd seemed slim, especially on Sunday. But I sold a decent number of books and met a lot of cool people. I love going because it’s the area my husband and I grew up in and we usually have old friends stop by.

 

I spoke twice. Once on tips to find your Celtic ancestors and once on the topic of my new book Celtic Song. Small, but enthusiastic audiences!

And this year I also got to visit with the Irish wolfhounds!

My biggest seller at this festival:

And a close second:

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Dublin Irish Festival

Held the first weekend in August, this is one of the largest Irish festivals in the world. Here authors have their own tent: The Authors’ Corner.

We are cared for by The Book Loft of German Village staff headed by the awesome Julie Burgess. This year 17 authors were present. Many of us have been together for several years now, sometimes meeting up at multiple festivals, resulting in friendships.

With author Jim McVeigh.

One year there were four Irish authors from the north of Ireland, and since that time it’s become one great party. Last year J.P. Sexton had to cancel at the last minute because of an injury that rendered him physically unable to come. This year he was also physically unable to attend but this time it was because he was turned away from boarding a plane due to a VISA issue or maybe it was a passport issue. He was in Ireland and was trying to get back. It’s all very mysterious, however, because he is a natural born US citizen, although he spent most of his childhood in Donegal. (A story for another time.) The year he was here, he taunted author Greg McVicker for leaving his Schmidt’s Cream Puff (forever after referred to in the Authors’ Corner as the Dublin Cream Bun) unattended while he visited with potential readers. Below you see JP taking advantage of that. Was this photo staged? I’ll never tell!

Well, JP’s situation this year would not go unnoticed. Authors Jim McVeigh and Greg McVicker (two of the Irish lads) penned an ode to JP and got some of the other authors to join in recording the song. I wasn’t there because they did this at the hotel where they all stayed and I’m local and don’t stay there. I knew you’d ask! (Check out Greg’s Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/ThroughtheEyesofaBelfastChild/) And Jim’s Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/fartymcfee/

There is some mild language in the song, but Americans might not notice because it’s Greg’s Belfast-talk. But you’ve been warned in case that matters to you. It is hilarious, for sure.

Creative people, aye?

Back to the festival.

There was a good crowd this year. The weather was fantastic. Not as many as I would have thought found their way to the Authors’ Corner. I sold a couple more books in Dayton than I did here, and this was Friday-Sunday. Positive thoughts for next year, though. And several people did go home with signed copies. No complaints about that!

 

Best seller in Dublin this year:

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

But only one more than second place:

At this festival I spoke to a bit larger group about Celtic Women. They were a fun crowd, despite it being nearly the end of the festival on Sunday before my assigned time came around. This festival draws good crowds for all the talks by authors, storytellers, musicians, and historians.

A Deal for You!

Not able to attend this year? Until the end of the month, you can get any (or all) of my books shipped free in the US. Well, one exception. I sold so many Celtic Song titles that I don’t have those. But I have all the rest. And if you’re near the Book Loft, you can pick up signed copies there. They have two copies of Celtic Song.

Here’s the run down:

Brigid of Ireland: $5 (very limited number left)

Pages of ireland: $12

Enya’s Son: $16 (very limited number left)

The Roots of Irish Wisdom: $9

If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, use the contact form below. Thanks!

 

Writing is Easy, Life is Hard

The Hard Part

As I hinted in my newsletter this month (July 2019), life has been challenging lately. I know I’m not alone in this. We all experience the valley from time to time, right?

I’m inspired by the title of a book. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins has several biographies or autobiographies published. One of them, the one that I read, is titled, “The Game is Easy, Life is Hard.” It’s common knowledge that getting into the professional level of baseball is quite difficult. Continuing to play at that level is hard as well. Excelling at the Big League level long enough to be elected into the Hall of Fame happens only for a select few. But for Jenkins, all that was easy compared to the challenges and heartache he experienced in his life.

Similarly, getting published, selling enough to continue to get published…very difficult in this day and age. But easy compared to some life situations. I do not mean to make light of anyone’s challenges. Compared to a lot of people’s, mine pale. Yes, my mother passed away recently, June 25, just three days after her 90th birthday.

Left to right: Sharon, my mother, my paternal grandmother. Me in front.

I had my mother longer than many people have theirs. I have wonderful memories. She shared a lot of love. However, late in her life we experienced a long road of health and memory issues, about ten years when I think back on it. Combined with some family strife (extended family, not my immediate family) it has been quite challenging. My writing and my publishing success were undoubtedly adversely affected. I shared the care of my mom with my sister Sharon (in the photograph when we were growing up) and I’m grateful for the late nights she spent with my mom, her continual checking up on her care, and so much more.

Why I Bring it Up

Like I said, many people struggle with life issues. As I mentioned, Fergie Jenkins dealt with losing many people in his life, some to suicide. Life is short. Take nothing for granted. That was his advice. He admitted to me in person (I interviewed him when I was working on the book Three Finger) that he never felt strong enough to endure what life hurled at him. He just had to press on.

Joy Abounds

We are not guaranteed happiness, But joy? Look for it in all situations.

I have been receiving a lot of cards and they have blessed me. In one, I found the following comforting words: “Those we love who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, have not been separated from us. They are really much closer to us because they now live in the fullness of God’s love…”

The Great Circle of Life

So, yes, life can be challenging. But we do not grieve as those without faith. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

While my mother was declining, a miracle came forth. Emree Jayne was not due until this month, but was delivered early and healthy. Just 12 days before my mother passed.

Grandbaby #3 has arrived!

What we do for an occupation may be difficult and challenging, whether playing professional ball, writing a novel, fighting fires, serving in the military, pastoring a church, or just working long hours to provide an adequate living. But what matters is who we are to the people around us. My youngest son said this in a Facebook post after his grandmother (my mom) passed away.

“I wanted my kids to know my grandmas. I am thankful that Maelee was able to experience the same joy you had every day that I experienced when I was a kid. …You set the standard for what it meant to love your family. Thank you for all the memories. You will be missed by the many lives you’ve touched.”

That. That is a legacy. Hard to achieve? Yeah, probably so. But so worth trying!

Researching the 1920s

Bits and Pieces

The 1920s will only be a small part of the novel I’m working on, but as we all know, we are made up of past events, and for my character WWI, the 1920s, the ’30s, all build to bring him where is in 1946. So, I have to go there with him.

Prohibition

When my character arrives in America in 1920, Prohibition is first set into law. He ends up in New Jersey where there are lots of rum runners, so…have to learn about that.

Guess what else was huge in New Jersey in the 1920s? The KKK. I’m discovering this is news to a lot of people. We know about the KKK in the south right after the Civil War. We know about the 1960s Civil Rights and the KKK. But what is lesser known is the reemergence in the north in the 1920s. Besides being anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, they were pro-Prohibition, meaning they supported it. They were all about the Constitution so they had to.

Rabbit Holes

Praying I don’t go down one. It’s fascinating stuff!

The Pause

photo: Cindy Thomson

Forced Rest

I took this photo during a time author Shelly Miller calls “Forced Sabbath.” That’s a time when we take a rest we hadn’t planned. The worse example of this is when we are sick. We are forced to rest, and can sometimes use that time for reflection and a time to seek God.

But on this day, it wasn’t anything like that. It was a snow day! That means I was not babysitting my granddaughter. I miss her, of course, but this was a bonus kind of day where I was up early anyway. So I sat in my office, prayed, reflected, and enjoyed the morning light coming through the window.

Everyone Needs Time to Rest

For most people, it’s hard to find time for this. Some people even avoid taking time to pause. They like to stay busy. I’m not talking about sleep, but intentional times to chill, goof off, read, relax.

We all need to rest, if only for a few moments. It’s amazing how slowing down improves your mood and your ability to focus. Jesus offered us rest when he said,  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) And he followed his own advice many times: “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark 1:35 NLT)

If you’d like to read more about Jesus and rest, I found this article.

Practice the Pause

In Shelly’s book, she doesn’t play the blame game. Start off giving yourself permission for just a few minutes if you can’t find time. You can expand as you get used to the idea. Like any spiritual discipline, pausing takes practice. If you forget or get distracted, or if something you must do comes up, just begin again later.

If you’re interested in Shelly’s book, you can find it here.

Do You Practice Pausing? Let me know in the comments. Share your own inspirational photo here or on my Readers Facebook Group.

Introducing Enya’s Son

True, it’s been out a few months. But time got away from me and I haven’t promoted it as much as I should. Better late than never, here is the book trailer for Enya’s Son, Book Three of the Daughters of Ireland Series. I’d love to hear what you think. If you’d read the novel, I would very much appreciate a review on Amazon, Goodreads or wherever you go for books on the web.

And be sure to visit Andy Rogers to hear more of his music.

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!