OH October!

O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
~From October by Robert Frost

Photo by Kaye Hanson on Unsplash

Slow Down, October

I get Robert Frost’s wish expressed in the poem above, don’t you? Well, I mean if you live where the leaves change, but even if you don’t there are surely things in life you wish would not fly by so fast. We only have autumn color for a few weeks and it changes daily. Just when you are used to admiring the reds, golds, and oranges of autumn, you look out the window one day and they’ve fallen to the ground. The show is finished and will not return for a whole year. And even then there is no guarantee next year’s show will be as vibrant. Oh, slow down, October!

And Yet, There is a Lesson

And I’m not talking about “take time to smell the roses,”  although that’s a good lesson.The lesson I’m learning is life will not slow down, no matter how much I wish it would. And it shouldn’t. We need autumn so that winter will come. We need winter because it is a time of rest and restoration. And we need winter in order for spring to come and new leaves to form so that in the fall there will be another color show. It’s a rhythm, the rhythm of life.

Photo by Łukasz Łada on Unsplash

Discover

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

That was my word for 2019. And as the year winds down, I’m learning my word meant much more than I imagined when I chose it. (That ALWAYS happens, by the way.) I’ve discovered what life will be without my mother, who passed away June 25. I’m discovering what it’s like to be Grammy to three! Last year I was only Grammy to one! I discovered a close family member I didn’t know existed and I’m learning what that relationship will be. And I’ve discovered that I can write despite distractions. (Yep, writing this during the World Series). I’ve learned that writing slow is ok. That all things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to his purpose. (From Romans 8:28)

And I’ve learned time waits for no one. So … relax. I can’t change that truth. But I can cherish these things I’ve discovered and keep them close while I admire those radiant autumn leaves.

How about you? What have you discovered?

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

 

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.

Dear Readers, You Can Help!

FYI: This post was written by Cindy, not Tom.

Here’s an Easy-Peasy Way to Help Me!

See this book?

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

Ebook, Book One, Daughters of Ireland

It’s been out for many years, and yet in a Facebook group for readers of Christian fiction, someone asked for recommendations of books set 5th-6th century and no one recommended mine. There is a virtual ocean of books out there, so it’s hard to get noticed. I’ve been thinking about that, and I know of a way Brigid could get noticed by a ton of eager readers! (And thus, the two books that follow!) BookBub is a website that promotes free and low cost (.99 to 1.99) ebooks. I would have to apply for a promotion and be accepted, but I can’t just yet. I need at least 50 Amazon reviews. First, I need to convince Amazon to combine these:

If I can get them to combine them, that’s 36, so you can see, Brigid needs more Amazon reviews.Choose however many stars you’d like, write something brief or long, your choice. Even negative reviews count!  If you can write one, do so on the new cover: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PL4GNA6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

If you wrote one on the old cover, thank you!

And a Bonus!

If you read my previous post and/or received my Jan. newsletter, you know newsletter subscribers (who actually open the newsletter email) are entered to win the prize I described. You can earn an additional entry if you leave a review on Brigid of Ireland between Jan. 3 and Jan. 30. (Prize will be awarded Jan. 31)

ST. Brigid’s Day

St. Brigid’s Day is coming up Feb. 1. What a great way to observe the day by leaving a review or reading the book if you haven’t already. Or perhaps gift a copy to a friend!

Easy, Right?

What could be easier? If you’d like to help me out (and many of you have said you would!) just leave an Amazon review. Already done that? Tell your friends by creating a post on Facebook or Twitter or wherever you hang out online.

Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Out with the Old and In with the New? Not Exactly!

Photo by Crazy nana on Unsplash

My One Word

As some of you know, I choose a word for each new year. I’ve been doing this for many years now, influenced by a book called My One Word by Mike Ashcroft and Rachel Olsen. Over the years my words have included: kindness, focus, peace, listen…

I’m always amazed by the end of the year what the word taught me. It’s often not what I thought it was going to be, but sometimes it is! And even more.

My One Word

2018

The year had its challenges, as I’m sure it did for everybody. My word was remember. I had a clue what it was going to mean: remember God’s promises, remember your blessings. And it sure did mean that. But I have also been observing the great chasm when it comes to memories between two people. My 89-year-old mother’s memories have been slipping away at an alarming rate. My 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter’s are zooming in the opposite direction. I have pondered that many times. Memories are delicate, fragile, and precious. One of my author friends, Jim Rubart, wrote a novel influenced by the lost memories of his aging father. Look it up if you’re curious.

It was a good word. I learned a lot. I will keep it close as I’ve tried to do with all my past words. No, not out with the old, not completely because I need the past’s lessons.

2019

I only started thinking about it last week! Anyone else have the new year creep up on them? Sheesh! A word popped into my head at that point, but I wasn’t sure it was the right one. But after reading some and reflecting a lot, I realized it is my word for 2109:

I just ordered two of these little metal tags. One for me and one for a drawing for my newsletter subscribers, which reminds me, I need to get working on that newsletter! Are you signed up? If not, go here.

I expect 2019 to be a year that, if I am intentional about it, will be full of discoveries. About myself, about others, about God.

What’s Your Word?

Have you chosen a word? Did you have one in 2018? Let me know what it meant or means to you. Happy New Year, everyone!

P.S. : not published by Tom. I haven’t fixed that yet.