Category Archives: Annie’s Stories

4 Reasons I Love Book Festivals

Cindy Thomson, Sandy Hart, Books by the Banks

Me with friend and fellow author Sandy Hart who came to see me at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati.

1. A Book Festival is About Readers

It’s not about the authors, regardless of how it might seem. Book festivals are an opportunity for readers to meet authors and ask questions. And boy do readers have questions. I absolutely love that! Everything from why did you write this book to what did you learn while researching this story?

2. It’s a Celebration of Books!

Everyone comes to learn, to gather, to shop for gifts, and they are all there because of books! Children’s books, young adult books, fiction, non fiction, art books, illustrated books, wee books and heavy coffee table books. Librarians, artists, and writers. It’s an atmosphere charged with creativity.

3. I Get Away From My Desk

Cindy Thomson at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati

I was asked to describe myself in one word.

Writing is for the most part a solitary undertaking. Getting out and talking to readers energizes me for the long hours ahead. If I know who I’m writing for, that people are actually enjoying my tales, I feel better about getting writer’s cramp and drinking so much tea while I work. (Well, okay, indulging in so much chocolate too. It’s a necessity.)

4. New Readers are Introduced to My Characters

It’s hard to get noticed these days in the vast ocean of books out there. Going to a book festival enables me to say, hey, here are some new stories you might want to try, to people who might not otherwise run across them. It’s marketing, yes, but for me it’s mostly sharing. Some are not interested, and that’s fine. At least we got to exchange smiles.

What About You? Have you been to a book festival? Which one? What did you like about it? If not, would you consider it sometime? (Just Google book festivals in your area or ask your local librarian where they are.)

Stepping Into the Past

Deadman's Curve NYC, www.cindyswriting.comHow to Go Back in Time

How many of us have remarked that we wished for a time machine. We have to see and experience things ourselves to truly understand them. But since that’s not possible, we can do the next best thing (something I always try to do when writing historical fiction) and read the words and thoughts of those who lived before us. There are a few ways to accomplish this.

Read Their Words

ThomsonFamilyBook

Thomson Family Book

There is nothing like a diary or journal to get into the mindset of the people of the past. Did you know John Adams kept a diary? Here is a fascinating list of online historical diaries. There are slave narratives (audio believe it or not) on the National Archives web site.

You can find more at local historical societies and libraries. Sometimes they are hard to read but worth the effort. My husband found a hand-written genealogy written in 1888 by one of his relatives. It’s not just a genealogy, though. It has memories and stories that relatives told as well, including one man who was a chaplain in the Union army and accompanied the troops on Sherman’s march to the sea. It has remembrances about how one man’s mother was distressed when he joined a different church until a pastor set the mother straight, and even one interesting story about a trip to a fortune teller.

Live in Their Society

Nothing beats contemporary newspapers for learning about the world our ancestors lived in. Of course you can look for names and dates, but to get a feel for how they lived their lives and what events influenced them, read newspapers and magazines. The magazines often contained serial fiction that later was put into books that you’ve probably heard of. In my novel Annie’s Stories I talk about Harper’s doing this, and you can even read some issues online here. For historical newspapers look here.

Russian Immigrants at Ellis Island, www.cindyswriting.comLook at Photographs

There are many sites where you can find old photographs, and just doing a Google search will bring up many. If you’ve ever seen photographs of immigrants at Ellis Island, you’ve probably seen Augustus Sherman’s photographs. He makes a cameo appearance in my novel Grace’s Pictures. I love to study the expressions, but you can also learn a lot from the clothing (were they rich or poor?) and even from the setting (in a studio, at home, outside?) Those Ellis Island photographs often depict people in their native garb, something they may have quickly discarded once they stepped foot in Battery Park when relatives met them with more American clothing (so they wouldn’t stand out.)

Dutch Immigrant at Ellis Island

These are just a few things that help me go back in time. What other ideas do you have?

Happy 75th Anniversary Wizard of Oz!

Wizard of Oz Turns 75!

If you look around in bookstores, on the Internet, and on television, you’re bound to notice sooner or later that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the movie The Wizard of Oz! This is a great time for fans of the movie to pick up memorabilia dedicated to this special birthday.

Annie's Stories Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz Merchandise

What collectables have you seen? 
Wizard of Oz Where is Annie's Stories?
Wizard of Oz for Annie's Stories
My friend Sandy sent me this card as I was working on the manuscript for Annie’s Stories

Wizard of Oz trashcan
She later sent me this for St. Patrick’s Day!

Wizard of Oz and Annie’s Stories

Of course I’d love for folks to include my new book Annie’s Stories in their collectables when gathering up items in this special landmark year. Long before the movie there was the book, you know. And I thought it would be interesting to explore what folks at the time thought of L. Frank Baum’s tale. From the New York Times, September 8, 1900 (Baum’s launch week of his new book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.)

“In ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ the fact is clearly recognized that the young as well as their elders love novelty.”
Now isn’t that the truth still today!
“There seems to be an inborn love of stories in child minds, and one of the most familiar and pleading requests of children is to be told another story.”
I certainly hope that’s still true!
“…it will indeed be strange if there be a normal child who will not enjoy the story.”
What an endorsement! 🙂

Do you love the story still today? If you’ve read Annie’s Stories, what part of what Annie read in the book resonated the most with you?

More Wizard of Oz Memorbilia

Because the cover of my book bears the cover of Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it makes a great collectable don’t you think?
Annie's Stories with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
My friend Jaime Wright thinks so! 🙂

Happy 75th Anniversary Wizard of OZ!

While it’s been 75 years since MGM introduced the movie, my readers know the story has been around a lot longer than that. This fall will mark 114 years since L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published.

But most folks are more familiar with the movie, and I have to admit it’s one of my all time favorites. Since the theme of Annie’s Stories is finding the place where your heart finds a home, I thought I’d celebrate with this clip.

Win an Autographed Copy of Annie’s Stories

I’ve launched this Goodreads giveaway!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Annie’s Stories by Cindy Thomson

Annie’s Stories

by Cindy Thomson

Giveaway ends August 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

What Men Read in 1901

One of my favorite parts of researching Annie’s Stories involved figuring out what Stephen Adams would have read, besides The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which he read because he knew Annie Gallagher was interested in it. (You can see this on the cover.)
Jules Verne and H.G. Wells came to mind, but I had to pick novels for my character that would have been available in 1901. Wells had only three novels published by that point, but they were popular: The Time Machine, War of the WorldsThe Island of Doctor MoreauThe First Men in the Moon came out in 1901, and my characters are eagerly awaiting it.
For Verne there were plenty to choose from because he had been publishing for decades at that point. I chose Facing the Flag because I imagine most people today would not be familiar with that one. I wasn’t. So because my character, Stephen Adams, was reading it and enjoying it, I had to read it along with him.
Verne’s visionary outlook is startling when you think about it. In this novel he wrote about a weapon of mass destruction a hundred years or so before that term was even being used. A brilliant, but somewhat demented, scientist invents a weapon that the countries of the world all want, something that actually happened in the WWII era. You can read about the novel here. The novel is in the public domain so you can get it free on Google Books.
Of course there were classics like The Last of the Mohicans that I assume folks re-read. Libraries existed, but access was not widespread, especially for my characters in Lower Manhattan, so I supposed books got passed around, therefore Stephen and his friend Dexter trade books. There were dime store novels certainly, but my character is looking for bigger books. I wouldn’t call him a literary snob, but he is a discerning reader. That’s why his landlord chose him for some moonlighting work for his publishing company. (You’ll understand if you read Annie’s Stories.)
I left some hints in my novel. One is about a book that would soon be published. I’d love if readers would find that and let me know! Another is about something that Stephen, thinking like the novelists he most admired, imagined would be a keen invention, a device you could use to hear someone read a book to you while you worked.
There are other bookish themes in Annie’s Stories, not the least of which is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. If you haven’t read the book by L. Frank Baum, it’s also in the public domain. Try it out. It’s a bit different than the movie.

Back to School with Annie Gallagher

Being a former teacher, I like to ponder how readers might be prompted to learn more about history after reading my Ellis Island Series. I’ve added to my “Teaching History” page. Check it out and let me know if you have more ideas!

If you are on Twitter, you can help let others know about this resource by copying the text below:

The Story Behind Annie’s Heart Pin

If you’ve read Annie’s Stories, you know in the story she receives a special heart pin. The pin is actually on the cover. It’s a little hard to see, so I’ve pointed it out to you below. If you have a copy of the book, you can see it easily if you know where to look.
Annie's Stories heart pin
I have that pin. It was my inspiration while I wrote the story. I purchased it from an Etsy shop. I told the seller what I was using it for and she actually pre-ordered Annie’s Stories! As a shout-out to her, and because I know many of you would be interested in her wares, here is the link to Mrs. C’s Vintage Boutique.
From Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson
So, if I have the pin, how did it get on the cover? I actually asked Mrs. C., the Etsy merchant, if she had any more of these. I thought they might make great giveaways. But unfortunately she doesn’t, and she doesn’t know where to get another one. If any of you have seen these anywhere, please let me know. It’s real silver, but probably not from the era of my story. Although it looks like it could have been, don’t you think?
So the pin, as far as I know, is one of a kind. The kind folks at Tyndale agreed to use it on the cover so I sent it to them and when they were done with the cover photo shoot, they mailed it back to me. It’s a special little touch readers won’t know about unless they read my blog or come to one of my appearances where I’ll probably be wearing this pin.

 

The History Behind the Fictional Author’s Mark in Annie’s Stories

Annie Gallagher’s stories were marked with a symbol. If you’ve read the novel you know that this symbol held great importance for determining the value of these stories (to everyone but Annie that is. For her they were priceless since her father wrote them.)

You might wonder how I can up with the idea that someone might give his original writings a hallmark so others would know he’d actually written it. In the story the author’s pen name is Luther Redmond. I explain where the names came from, but for clarity here I’ll tell you that Luther is for Martin Luther. Martin Luther gave his writings a mark. It’s called the Luther Rose.

From Wikimedia Commons, Stained glass window with Lutheran rose by CTHOE

From Wikipedia, this is how Luther described his symbol when responding to the man who created it for him:

Grace and peace from the Lord. As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology. The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. “For one who believes from the heart will be justified” (Romans 10:10). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17) but by faith in the crucified. Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12). Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal. This is my compendium theologiae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation. May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen.

I was inspired by this and created something for Annie’s father use on his stories. I’ll let you read the book to find the reasoning behind it, but here is how I imagined it looking:

Image adapted from work of  Jed on Wikimedia Commons

Just as a master’s painting could be faked, a writer’s manuscript could be mislabeled. In a time when all we had was one’s word, I imagine artists used marks, like kings and officials would have.

So that’s the story behind that part of the story!