Category Archives: Books

Books Read in 2015

Cindy Thomson's reading list 2015Thanks, Goodreads

I’ve found it helpful to keep track of the books I’ve read using Goodreads. I also do a challenge, which I did not meet this year. It was too optimistic. I would have loved to have read 55 books this year, but I only made it to 35. Goodreads also tells you the shortest and longest books you read. For me, the shortest was an ebook called How To Make a Living With Your Writing by Joanna Penn and the longest, Ulyssess by James Joyce. My average length was 370 pages. The book I read that was the most popular with Goodread users was, no surprise, To Kill a Mockingbird. Surely I’ve read it before. I watched the movie, but I thought I should re-read it. I wanted to be ready for Go Set a Watchman.

A Few of My Favorite Books

Secrets She Kept by Cathy GohlkeNot all of what I read was released in 2015. But some were. I loved Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept! Another favorite: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Actually 2014, but it still seemed new.) I Read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins just to see what all the fuss was about. It was a very good book. For the same reason I read Go Set a Watchman, the controversial book that was kind of a new story, kind of not. And actually, for me, both of those books by Harper Lee had disappointing endings. Kind of like no ending at all. But I’m still glad I read the “new” one. She was a talented author.

And I read some oldies. Like Ulyssess. I listened to that one or I surely never would have finished it. What an odd book. Still, I can say I’ve read it now!

A surprise was Jane Kirkpatrick’s The Daughter’s Walk, published four years ago. Very good historical fiction. I love how Jane makes people who lived long ago seem like someone you’d like to know today.The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

Another oldie was Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, published in 1994. Very good, but really, really liked Sophia’s Secret, 2008. Very clever plot, and of course I’d love a story about a novelist. I read these because on the advice of my friend Rebecca I went to hear Susanna speak.

Thomas MertonIt Was a Good Reading Year

As usual I read a variety of things from a biography of C.S.Lewis, a work from Thomas Merton, and Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker, to a few baseball books, more clever, enjoyable novels, and few I didn’t care for all that much. I liked all of them somewhat, however, or I would not have finished them. There were some of those this year. I’ve decided life is too short, there is too much out there to read to settle for an uninteresting book.

I’m going to set my 2016 goal for 35.

What Good Books Did You Read in 2016?

 

Sofia Wins The Clash!

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson
Conqueror ButtonThanks to all of you who voted. I understand the competition was fierce. But since it was a competition between books, it was friendly. I think the other books had some great covers and are worthy of checking out.

Here is the link to the announcement.

Why a Competition?

The winner gets free exposure on several blogs, and hopefully new readers will discover the book. There is literally an ocean of new books published every year, so it’s hard to get noticed. As an author, nothing makes me sadder than to write a book no one knows about. I encourage people, whenever they find an author they enjoy reading, to write a review for Amazon, Goodreads, and Barne & Noble. And to tell their friends.

Thank You!

For voting and for reading! I write my stories for YOU!

Enter to Win Sofia’s Tune!

I’ve begun a Goodreads giveaway for one of the first copies of Sofia’s Tune, Book Three of the Ellis Island Series. Goodreads is where readers hang out, so if you aren’t a member, you’ll want to check it out–reviews, giveaways, book clubs, discussions…

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

Sofia’s Tune

by Cindy Thomson

Giveaway ends November 01, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

When I Wear This Shirt…

It never fails. No matter where I wear this shirt people tell me they identify. They often tell me they want one.

Bedtime t-shirt campaign

Ordering the Shirt

I’ve asked many times who wants one. Some of you tell me you do, but so far not enough to put in another order. But with all the comments I get–a musician at the Irish festival, a TSA guy at the Columbus airport, a banker when we went in to apply for a loan, a lady walking past me at a used book sale, a young girl and her mother who came to my festival book table–I know there are several of you out there who would like one.

These Would Make Great Gifts

My sister gave them to her grandkids’ teachers for Christmas. I bet you have a reader on your list. They come in all sizes from kids to XXXXL. We can do unisex and/or ladies styles. They are a nice quality. I love mine.

So Just Leave Me a Comment Telling Me You’re Interested.

If I have your contact info, I will keep you posted. You can send me a message by using the contact form. The price will be somewhere around $20 depending on the number of orders. The more ordered, the lower the price. We could also do sweatshirts, but the cost of course is higher.

(And for full disclosure, my web site appears on the back.)

Do you read past your bedtime? If so, you need this shirt. #reader #books Click To Tweet

Cover Reveal!

Here is the cover to my new book, Sofia’s Tune, which will be published in November, the final book in the Ellis Island series following Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories.

A Little Background

I directed this cover myself, it was designed by the talented Kim Draper, and photographed by my daughter-in-law Kelsey Thomson. The model is Kelsey’s long-time friend Kaitlan Livingston. I rented the costume from a local shop.

The Meaning

The dog in the story is named Luigi. He plays such an important role, he had to be on the cover. The music represents “tune,” the direction of our lives, the manner in which we orchestrate our plans.

Please Leave a Comment Here

I would love to know what you think! (Description below)

 

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

 

In Sofia’s Tune, we meet Sofia Falcone, a young woman who has been living in New York only a short time when she is stunned to discover a family secret, one that soon sends her beloved mother into a mental institution. Scrambling to keep her job and care for her mother, Sofia is convinced confronting the past will heal all wounds, but her old world Italian family wants to keep the past in the past.

During this time, she encounters Antonio, a Vaudeville pianist with a street-smart dog, seeking to discover why his father was mysteriously killed. Their crossed paths uncover a frightening underworld in Little Italy. Bringing the truth to light may cost Sofia’s mother’s sanity, Antonio’s career, and the livelihoods of countless immigrants. Change is on the horizon, but it may not bring what they expect.

Celtic Wisdom Audio

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy ThomsonAlmost an Audiobook!

I’m trying something new! Since Celtic Wisdom is out of print, I thought I’d try recording an audio version. Uh, not as simple as it sounds! There are Irish words in there, and the book was published in UK English, so some things are not the way I would usually say them. For instance, sometimes their verb-subject agreement is different.

It’s not perfect, but for those of you who like listening to podcasts, you might like it. (It’s possible I’m the only who will notice these quirks.)

A Free Introduction

So I’m posting the mp3 here of the first chapter. If you like it, let me know: would you be willing to pay say, 99cents, for additional chapters? It takes me hours to record one part, so I need to know if this something readers would like before I press on.

The chapter titles:

How the Ancient Irish Found the Christian Path

Patrick

Brigid

Columcille

The Apostles of Erin

Celtic Learning and Art

Celtic Prayer

Learning about the Scots-Irish with author Cindy Thomson

The Free Chapter

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan, Book Review

Reading Widely

That’s what I try to do, and sometimes that means reading books not yet published in this country. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of The Dress by Kate Kerrigan. If you can, order it from the UK.

My Review

The DressThe Dress by Kate Kerrigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dress by Kate Kerrigan combines fashion and one’s search for love beautifully in a tale that spans generations. Told with an obviously deep knowledge of the world of fashion design, this novel made me root for Honor and Joy, the two main characters in the 1950s tale, and certainly for poor workaholic Lily in the modern tale whose grandfather’s past in Ireland is a mystery to her. There were a lot of characters in this novel, and at first I did not understand how their stories would connect, but wanting to know what would happen to them kept me turning pages, and the beautiful message that Honor learns late in her life gave me that satisfied sigh that I’m always looking for in a book. Recommended for those who love stories that dig to a level deeper than mere romance to explore human relationships and family legacies.

View all my reviews

Birth Order and Fictional Characters

My Ellis Island Characters

So far I’ve avoided birth order with my series, pretty much anyway. Grace McCaffery was an only child until she was an adult. Of course, she did work as a nanny for four children, so there was some sibling rivalry there that she had to work to understand, but basically she was an only child.Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

And then Annie Gallagher. She was only child. Her mother died after Annie was born and her father never remarried. She had a special relationship with her father, very different than Grace’s experience.

Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

And now Sofia’s Tune. She is the oldest of five children, plus their entire neighborhood consists of people who lived near each other back in Italy. She feels protective, impatient, and sometimes ignored–all within her family unit. Is she a typical oldest child? Yes and no.

Friends as Family

You may have noticed if you’ve read these books, but friends become family as these immigrants have to redefine their lives. Historically, the people who came through Ellis Island often left their families on the other side of the Atlantic. They built new family units.

Why Ellis Island immigrants had to create new families. Click To Tweet

This idea intrigues me. I want to know, do you count some friends as family?

1934Siblings in Fiction

227571Countless novels have featured siblings or explored birth order and relationships. Little Women, for instance or Peace Like a River, just to name two. Which are your favorites?

Tell me your favorite novels exploring sibling relationships. #booktalk #bloggingbooks Click To Tweet

 

My Pet Peeve About Other Writers

This Embarrasses Me About Other Writers

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t ignore it. One of these days I just might say something, but so far I haven’t figured out how to say it. So for now, I’ll just explain here on my blog.Find out what I dislike about some fellow authors. #bookrant #authors Click To Tweet

Cindy Thomson's author tableEvery time I go to an event where there are multiple authors there is at least one who hard sells his/her book by telling potential readers that theirs is “a really, really good book.” That “all the reviews have been stellar.” That “everyone who reads it absolutely loves it.” And especially embarrassing, “I guarantee that you are really going to love it.”

Reading is Subjective

Gaelic proverb

On the wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo by Beth

The truth is there is no one book EVERYONE will love. Do you love every book your friend loves? Do you share the same reading tastes as your boss? Have you ever had a hard time figuring out why a certain novel is so popular when you didn’t care for it at all?

I’m guessing you said yes, you have experienced that. So who would actually believe what that author is saying about her own book? Probably no one. She is making herself look foolish or at best, completely ignorant. You might say she was boastful or even arrogant. In any case, as a fellow author sitting nearby, I feel embarrassed.

But it Works!

Read books!If your goal is simply to sell books and bring  home some cash, then yes, it does seem to work. I see authors that run after readers and give their own works high praise sell more books than those of us who don’t do that. I don’t know why people buy. Maybe they believe her, or maybe they are trying to be nice. After all that small talk they feel like they can’t walk away. I don’t know.

Maybe this is the reason that bookstore signings don’t work. The reason people see an author at a table and refuse to make eye contact.

I’d Rather Reach the RIGHT Readership

I’ve worked hard on my books. I want the people I wrote them for to actually read them. I was once at a book festival where an author seated next to me told my husband, “I don’t care if people read my books or not. I just want them to buy them.” Ack! Why bother writing the thing then? I guess I just won’t understand some people. EVER!

Author Cindy Thomson's complaint about the overly aggressive author sales pitch. Click To Tweet

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy ThomsonTwo young girls stopped at my table last Saturday. They picked up Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories and read the back covers. They said, “This sounds interesting. I don’t think I’d read it but it sounds like something my grandma would like.” Did I argue with them? Did I tell them, “I guarantee that if you buy this you will absolutely love it!” No. I think they are probably right. They said they enjoy fast faced, adventure-like stories. I suggested Brigid of Ireland, but I did not press them. One took a picture of the book cover with her phone. We talked a bit about reading preferences. Why force a book on someone if that person is not your target audience?

Every Writer is in Love With Their Book

It’s true. We all want the whole world to love our stories. But it’s not going to happen. If an author says everyone who has read their book has loved it (and I’ve heard that claim more times than I can count!) it’s a lie. Maybe the author believes it, but it’s still a lie. If every Amazon review is five stars, something is wrong. It’s not honest. There have been people who have hated my books. I’m not sure why they had a such strong reaction, but they did. Thankfully, many more loved them, but reading is subjective. We like different things. It’s how God made us!

Let the Readers Speak

5 star review for Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

Annie’s Stories

That’s what I prefer to do. I may not sell a ton of books at multi-author events, but I will not pressure anyone into buying a copy. I just won’t. That’s not who I am. Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening!

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth–a stranger, and not your own lips. –Proverbs 27:2 NRSV

 

The Journey to Bring Readers Sofia’s Tune

Cindy Thomson's novel Sofia's Tune is coming!A Canceled Book Contract

It happens far more often in the publishing industry than you might think. At first I was crushed, but it happened a few years ago and I’ve recovered. 😉

It was a business decision, but one that I felt was unfair to readers who liked the series and wanted to see it wrapped up. Grace’s Pictures was hailed by Library Journal as,

GracePicforweb“…a delightful story of overcoming obstacles. Lynn N. Austin fans will savor this historical fiction series debut.”

Grace’s Pictures at this writing has received 143 customer reviews on Amazon, nearly half 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

Annie’s Stories was a 2014 Lime Award Nominee from the Christian Manifesto and Romantic Times gave it a 4-star review. And on Amazon 88% of reviewers gave it four or five stars.

Diane on Amazon wrote:

If you enjoy historical fiction and Christian fiction, Annie’s Stories is a must-read for you. I felt like I was catching up with old friends, and made some new ones that I hope to meet up with again the near future.”

I think readers should be able to catch up with what’s happening in 1903 with these characters and to meet new ones as well.Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

So Why Was the Book Canceled?

Low sales. That is the bottom line. And in this market it is hard to get noticed. I don’t blame my publisher at all for the low sales. They marketed and got it reviewed all over. In fact, I received the most publisher support with these two books than I’ve ever had in my publishing career. Besides low sales, Christian publishers are publishing fewer historical titles these days, and bigger selling authors have become available when their publishers shut down or cut back.

I don’t blame myself either. I worked really hard to get the word out there. In fact, I don’t blame anyone! It’s just the way it is.

Why This is Not as Bad as it Sounds!

Authors have many more options these days. I’m going to publish Sofia’s Tune myself. BUT, having experienced superior editing and outstanding cover design, I will not be content to do a quick and inferior job. And it takes money to publish a great quality book. So I decided to see if readers would like to help with this effort, and I got a great response on Pubslush. I’m continuing the campaign here on my web site until I send the book off to an editor and a cover designer. Here is how you can be a part for as little as $5.