The drawing is over. Robyn was the winner. Thanks for your entries!Why 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
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 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.
Doctors said even if the girl lived she probably would never be able to sit up. Despite the grim outlook, Christa and Burdette went ahead with their plans for marriage.
Today young Mrs. Burdette Thomson gets around her home in a motorized wheelchair. Although she cannot dress herself or do houswork, she has found that she can paint by holding the brush in her teeth. Says she:
“My desire to paint began when I looked at pictures of the old home in Germany and the mountains where I used to ski. In my hospital room I thought of these things. The walls of my room suddenly became a movie screen and I could project my whole life in detail on the ceiling.
“I wanted very much to create something. Then, a year ago, I began detail painting by number portraits. Gradually I started adding a flourish of my own, or changing a color.”
Now Christa is painting solo, with numbers for guides. There are difficulties, but she is overcoming them. Says she:
“I see beautiful pictures in my mind. I want to translate them on canvas – perhaps someday sell them.”
April 18, 1960.
The Rest of the Story
Despite this devastating injury, they went through with the wedding! That alone is touchingly romantic. But we also know Burdette never remarried after she died. We found him in a high school yearbook. He was handsome and played every sport available. I can just imagine them that fateful day enjoying the summer at Indian Lake (a place we’ve been to.)
And then I found this picture that must have accompanied the article.
I can’t make it any larger, but perhaps you can zoom in. I believe that must be Burdette smiling down on her. He must have loved her very much. After all, he made sure he’d return to Ohio to buried next to her 40 years later.
Christa escaped Germany after WWII, quite possibly all alone but with hope of making a better life in America. We don’t know yet how they met or what she had been doing before the accident, but that day must have felt like the end of her dreams. However, despite living as a paraplegic, Christa found a way to express the beauty she still saw in the world through her painting. I would love to find some of them someday.
We still don’t know if somehow the Thomson family history research survived by being kept by another family member or donated to a library. We’ll keep looking. But finding this unexpected love story while looking for something else shows how important uncovering the stories of our ancestors is, so we can let them live again to inspire future generations.
How I Research
People often ask me how I do my research. I’m currently finishing my third novel set in ancient Ireland, so I’ll talk a little about that. There are many resources and books that people have written over the years. I have several bookshelves full of them. But today, I thought I’d share just three and also give one of them away!
In Search of Ancient Ireland: The Origins of the Irish from Neolithic Times to the Coming of the English
Both the book and the accompanying DVD are excellent. It spans 9000BC to the twelfth century when the Norman Invasions occurred. For my novels I was most interested in the middle part, but it’s so engaging and well written that I enjoyed it all. Here is why (copied from Amazon)
In Search of Ancient Ireland is not simply the story of events from long ago. Across Ireland today are festivals, places, and folk customs that provide a tangible link to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places and festivals, talking to a wide variety of historians, scholars, poets, and storytellers in the very settings where history happened.
A Social History of Ancient Ireland by P.W. Joyce
You can read this free online. Click here. But I enjoy having the two volumes of these in print. I also have A Smaller Social History, which is an abbreviated edition. That book is the first printing in 1908. Patrick Weston Joyce was a nineteenth-century Irish historian. According to Wikipedia In 1856 he was one of fifteen teachers selected to re-organize the national school system in Ireland. He published several books, but these are my favorites because they tell me most of what I needed to know about how the people dressed, what their laws and education were like, what rights women had, what their religions were like and much more!
If you’ve read my Daughters of Ireland Series, particularly Pages of Ireland, you know how important the ancient books were. This book, with photos of pages of the actual historical books, was helpful in helping me understand which books held what information and what the history of each one (throughout the ages) was. It’s not widely available now, but copies can be found.
Only the Tip of the Iceberg
Of course there were many other sources I studied, but these three were by far my favorites and the most helpful. If you want to know more about this time period, check them out. If you want a short synopsis of the early Christian time period of Ireland, see my book The Roots of Irish Wisdom. Only 8.99 in print and 2.99 on Kindle.
Now the Giveaway!
I thought you’d enjoy the DVD mentioned above, so I’m running this contest for a copy. US residents only.
Everyone Has a Favorite
And of my books it tends to be Brigid of Ireland. Here’s one readers who want a wee bit of history should like.
I get it. Many of you are curious about what I’m writing. You want to get a feel for what the next novel will be like. You’ve probably already heard the title, Enya’s Son. You might even know it’s based on legends and mentions in ancient Irish manuscripts about St. Columba (Columcille) and his mother.
So I thought I might give you a sneak peek. Here it is, beginning with a partial sentence. (Sorry, it’s a screenshot, and besides, I don’t want to reveal too much.) 🙂
Pausing to Research
Quite often as I’m writing, I realize that to describe something I need to better understand it, or even see it. I know some writers do not pause. They just make a note to come back to it later. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I must pause. And so I did today.
Of course, I’d rather be in Ireland, but since I can’t be today, many times YouTube is the next best thing. I thought you might like to experience it with me, so below is the video that I hope will inspire a good description. I’m on Chapter 23!
Some of you may remember me talking about the Annie Moore statue at Ellis Island, and that I was asked to write a monologue for her.
Now you can look at this map to find the other 34 statues in NYC that are also talking. If you’re planning a trip or know someone who is, please take a selfie with the statue and send it to me!
The Statue From My Novel
And if you’ve read Grace’s Pictures, you might remember the statue of John Ericsson in Battery Park. Grace pondered the meaning of this statue. If she was there today, the statue itself could tell her that meaning! Now this statue is talking too!
How It Began
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 #writinginspiration 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
Writing 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.