Category Archives: Brigid of Ireland

The Naming of a Character

Getting It Right

It’s one of the tricky things about writing historical novels. While contemporary novelists probably devote plenty of time in choosing a novel’s characters’ names, when you are

via Flickr by Jack Dorsey

via Flickr by Jack Dorsey

writing historical, particularly in the ancient time frame I’m using now, you sometimes have to choose between names a reader can pronounce in his/her head and names that were actually in use at the time.

I was in the middle of this task when I decided to run my proposed names by the people who follow my Facebook page. Here is what I said:

Readers: Please help! In the novel I’m working on I have to name some children. Always hard to strike a balance with names readers are familiar with and those that have somewhat of an ancient Irish feel. In this case I’m trying to keep them somewhat similar to the actual names in history. How do you feel about these: Egan, Keeva, Meredit, Shona. I’ve tried to use a spelling that helps the reader hear the correct sound. In order they are boy, girl, girl, girl.

The feedback on that post was very helpful. If you offered your opinion, thank you! If you did not, but would like to, feel free to comment below.

Names in My Past Novels

I thought you might like to hear how I came up with other character names. Some of them were quite simple, but here was my thinking:

For Brigid of Ireland, I obviously already had the main character. The original publisher of that book included a pronunciation guide at the front. For instance, Aine is AWN-ya. (Some readers of Pages of Ireland have asked about that one.) My rule for that book was that the names that were fairly easy to pronounce were fictional, and many others that were not were historical.

Grace's Pictures by Cindy ThomsonFor Grace’s Pictures, I thought of Grace O’Malley, the sixteenth-century Irish pirate. I don’t know why. The characters aren’t really alike, but the name stayed with me, and it’s a beautiful name that taken literally reminds one that there by the grace we go. Owen is a name of Celtic origin, and I was influenced by a former youth pastor my son was mentored by. The Parker family was explained in the book: the children were named after trees, which Grace thought was funny…trees in the park? But their mother was an avid gardner. Reverend Clarke got his name because I once knew a Reverend Clark. The other names in the book came to me for no particular reason.

 

For Annie’s Stories I named Annie for Annie Moore, the first immigrant to come through Ellis Island.

The mark used by Annie's father, explained in the novel.

The mark used by Annie’s father, explained in the novel.

For her counterpart, I wanted a name that sounded very American. What’s more American than a president? So, I used Adams. I thought Stephen sounded appropriate for the early twentieth-century and quite American. Speaking of names, I explain in the novel about Annie’s father’s name and his pen name. Annie’s father is the source of “Annie’s stories.”

I held a contest for the naming rights for two characters in this book, but then most of the characters were already in Grace’s Pictures. So the two Eastern European sisters in the book were named that way.

For Sofia’s Tune, I had originally used Sophia, but the publisher (who later opted not to publish

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

Book Three, Ellis Island Series

this book) changed it to Sofia, which I think is more of an Italian spelling. Sofia means wisdom, and I hoped that throughout the story my character would grow in wisdom, which only comes from God. That is why I was so happy to be able to use Sophia Sing to Me, written by Irish singer/songwriter Andy Rogers. You can hear it on the book trailer found here. I believe the other characters came out of my imagination, if I remember right. But, oh, the dog? Nothing earth-shattering, but I think it was a name I heard in high school and thought it was Italian but not overly common.

I often consult baby name web sites when searching for a name. I love these because they often give the meaning of the name. If you look some of my character names up, you might understand why I gave a certain character a specific name. For instance, in Brigid of Ireland there is a druid named Bram. This is a derivative of Abraham, the father of many. While we don’t specifically know if Bram’s heart was changed in the story, he represented the old beliefs that were about to change for many of the Irish people. Another example. Back to Aine. Her name means “splendor, radiance, brilliance.” As you might remember from Brigid of Ireland, she had leprosy and was healed.

Names Are Hard/Names Are Fun

That pretty much sums it up for me. I spend maybe too much time deciding on character names, but I do love the process. Let me know what you think!

 

Coming Soon: New Books!

Here’s what is coming soon from me:

Celtic Cross photo by Cindy ThomsonIn a few short weeks I will have the reprinted, revised, updated non-fiction book titled The Roots of Irish Wisdom: Learning From Ancient Voices. It’s a newer version of my book Celtic Wisdom, but in paperback with some new material and new black and white photographs. I think you’re going to love it! Subscribers to my newsletter (see link above or click here) will see the cover first and learn when the release date will be. Here’s a synopsis:

This collection of classic Irish wisdom in the form of stories, prayers, and proverbs, reveals the Creator in the natural world and highlights the importance of the Celtic spiritual heritage. Along with historical background on St. Patrick, St. Brigid, St. Columcille, and the Twelve Apostles of Erin, Cindy Thomson leads the reader on an enriching journey through Celtic learning and prayer.

Coming Later This Summer:

My novel, the sequel to Brigid of Ireland: Pages of Ireland. More on this to come.

Do You Love All Things Irish?

Tell me why…

Saint Brigid of Ireland

Happy St. Brigid’s Day!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookFebruary 1, St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc in the Celtic calendar, and Ground Hog’s Day (Feb. 2) in the U.S., are associated with the arrival of spring. It certainly feels like spring where I am, although that might not last.

As you might know, the Irish saint Brigid is special to me. Many years ago I began to learn about her, and I thought I should tell people what I learned. Eventually this led to my historical novel. Last year I published a Kindle version. It was only available on Kindle but I will soon change that to make it available in other book formats as well. I have updated the Kindle file with better formatting, which I hope will be available by the time you read this. If you’ve already purchased it, you should be able to go upload the new updated version. Same text, just looks better. And this summer the sequel, Pages of Ireland, should be available in both print and ebook.

Why Brigid is Special

For me, it’s all the stories of her amazing generosity. The miraculous way God restored her goods–the items she gave to the poor–so that she and her followers never went without. The fact that she was born a slave and became the most venerated woman in ancient Irish history.

There are three patron saints of Ireland: Patrick, Brigid, and Columcille. She’s the only woman. And her cross? I had never seen anything quite like it before, and the story behind it intrigued me. Traditionally, school children in Ireland weave a new St. Brigid’s Day cross on this day. The cross has an odd shape, at least to the non Irish. Some say it’s shaped like a wheel and indicates the four seasons.

St. Brigid's Cross

Learn More About St. Brigid

Here are some links to previous blog posts I’ve written on St. Brigid. I’d love to hear what you think.

St. Brigid Stained Glass in Ireland

St. Brigid (center) window in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Northern Ireland

Happy St. Brigid’s Day!, 2011

Happy St. Brigid’s Day, 2012

St. Brigid’s Eve (How to Weave a St. Brigid’s Cross)

St. Brigid’s Day, 2010 (Brigid’s Oat Bread recipe)

One Legend About St. Brigid

About That Sequel, Here’s a Sneak Peek!

“I am Brigid, Abbess of Cill Dara. We welcome you, traveler. You come without a torch, so we assume you seek sanctuary here. You have found it.”

Aine hadn’t realized she had been holding her breath until that moment.

Lowering the cowl from her head, the woman’s hair flowed freely in the night air.

“’Tis you, Brigid! I knew it!”

Brigid clutched the arm of the woman standing next to her as she spoke to Aine. “God be with you, child. There is welcome here for you.” She narrowed her eyes to gaze in the dim light. “Do I know you?”

“I do not blame you for not remembering. I was just a girl when you healed me on the road to Aghade. We learned to read together, remember? My Uncle Cillian taught us.”

Brigid brought a hand to her mouth. By the light of the torch held by one of Cill Dara’s sisters, Aine detected tears forming at the corners of Brigid’s eyes.

“Aine? You are so grown up now.” Brigid reached for the girl and gave her a tight squeeze.

10 Irish Books: Reading Your Way Through St. Patrick’s Day

10 Irish Books for St. Patrick's Day! Click To Tweet

About St. Patrick

There are many history books and some fiction choices. If you really want to know the man, start with his writings. Two exist: St. Patrick’s Confession

Book of Armagh page

A facsimile page from the Book of Armagh where St. Patrick’s Confession is found. Held at Trinity College in Dublin

and his Letters to the Soldiers of Coroticus. The letter is shorter and meant as an excommunication for Coroticus whose men struck down new converts. The Confession is much longer and is a bit of a biography where we learn about the man.

“I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts.”

But of course his story does not end there. Here are some reading suggestions, in no particular order.

Fiction About St. Patrick

I read this many years ago.

1. Patrick, Son of Ireland by Stephen R. LawheadPatrick by Stephen Lawed

 

I haven’t found much out there. If you know of any St. Patrick’s novels, please leave them in the comments.

2. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola

Patrick post by Cindy Thomson

Learn About Ireland

Of course you can read many books about leprechauns, if you choose. But if you are like me and want more history, here some suggestions.

3. Celtic Wisdom, Treasures From Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Even though it’s short, I’m still proud of the early history squeezed into these page with color photographs. If you’d like an autographed copy, let me know. Click on the picture.

 

About Ireland in General

4. Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookDid you know there are three patron saints of Ireland? (If you’ve read Celtic Wisdom, you do know that!) I still have print copies of Brigid of Ireland, or you can get one on your Kindle (or the Kindle app on your computer) for just a few bucks.

But there are plenty more choices than just my books!

5. How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

 

How the Irish Saved Civilization, top Irish books Cindy Thomson

 

A condensed, but still useful, overview of Irish history according to the influence of the Christian monks.

6. Ireland, a Novel, by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Featuring a seanchai, said to be the last of the itinerant storytellers, I really enjoyed this one.

7. Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford

 Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Rutherford writes Sagas, spanning generations of characters. No one offers so much history in a  500 or so pages like he does.

8. The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House by Sharon Owens, Irish Books Cindy Thomson

For a different pace and a great glimpse into modern Ireland. Funny and entertaining. Owens has others as well.

9. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Barry is a gifted writer so you should check out all his books. I enjoy these types of stories where an elderly character tells about her past.

10. In Search of Ancient Ireland by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton, companion to the PBS Series

In Search of Ancient Ireland by McCaffrey and Eaton/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Truly, if you want to know about Ancient Ireland, read this book. Excellent!

 

Of course there are many more. What Irish books would you recommend for St. Patrick’s Day reading?

More Giveaways to Celebrate St. Brigid’s Day!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

Come back Feb. 1 for my final St. Brigid giveaway!

For Kindle Readers

Goodreads only allows print giveaways, and I don’t want Kindle readers to be left out. So, here’s a giveaway for you! If you don’t actually have a Kindle device, you can get the Kindle app for your computer or tablet (it’s free, click here to learn more.)

 

 

 

 

Don't miss this chance to win a #free #Kindle copy of Brigid of Ireland for St. Brigid's Day! Click To Tweet

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A Giveaway to Prepare for St. Brigid’s Day!

In honor of the upcoming St. Brigid’s Day, I thought I’d host a Goodreads giveaway for a print copy of Brigid of Ireland. Please share!

Get ready for St. Brigid's Day with this Goodreads giveaway: http://wp.me/p5bkeC-iR Click To Tweet

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland

by Cindy Thomson

Giveaway ends February 04, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Getting Ready for St. Brigid’s Day

Tired of winter?

Don’t worry. Soon it will be St. Brigid’s Day.

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookIn many parts of Ireland St. Brigid’s Day signifies the beginning of spring. Similar to Ground Hog’s Day, folks would look for signs that warmer weather was coming. Count the hedgehogs you see. Note the new lambs being born. Return to your fishing boat. It’s St. Brigid’s Day!

Why St. Brigid?

I’m often asked how I got interested in St. Brigid. The answer is in her stories—or rather the stories told about her. Unlike St. Patrick who left some of his writings for prosperity, the stories about the life of St. Brigid were written at least a hundred years after her death. But they still make fascinating reading, even when you take into account that monks often wrote these as a kind of propaganda—our saint is better than your saint so you pilgrims should come to Kildare to spend your coins and trade your goods for blessings and sacred inspiration.

Hmmm. Maybe this was a type of storytelling competition. I would give the upper hand to Cogitosus, the monk at Kildare who wrote The Life of St. Brigit the Virgin and to the fifteenth century scribe of Beatha Bhrighdi (The Life of Brigid) found in the Leabhar Breac (The Speckled Book.)

A Story or Two About Brigid

Some brief examples:

From the Leabhar Breac on Brigid’s birth:

“The prophet said that the child that would be brought forth on the morrow at sunrise, and neither within the house nor without, shall surpass every child in Ireland.”

Apparently, Brigid’s mother gave birth to her as she was coming in from the morning’s milking. She slipped on the threshold, fell, and right there Brigid was born, just as the prophet had predicted: neither inside nor outside the house.

In my book, Celtic Wisdom: Treasures From Ireland, I recount the legend of Brigid and her father’s cherished sword. Apparently Brigid had been so generous with the poor that her father decided he could no longer afford to keep her. He decided to put her into the King of Leinster’s service.

St. Brigid mural

Mural at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh showing St. Brigid and the King of Leinster

Dubthach took Brigid in his chariot and traveled to the castle. He bid her to stay put outside while he inquired of the king. While he was gone, a beggar happened by. Being away from the dairy, the supply of food from which she had fed the poor, Brigid searched for something to give the poor man and spotted the gleam of metal in the sun. She pulled out her father’s sword from beneath some blankets. It was not an ordinary sword, but one with a jewel-encrusted hilt. Just as she was handing it over to the beggar, her father returned with the king. Dubthach declared that this was just the reason he had to be rid of her. The king, being as wise as his position required, asked Brigid whether, if she were to be under his authority, she would give away his cattle and possessions. Brigid answered truthfully. If she had all the wealth of the King of Leinster, she would give it away to the poor in the name of God. The king was humbled by this reply and told her father that she was far nobler than either of them. He gave Dubthach a sword to replace the one given away and granted Brigid (who had been her father’s slave) her freedom.

Stories > Novel

Story after story declared Brigid’s heart for people and how God showed her favor. I thought, what if those things actually did happen? What would that look like? And then I wrote a whole novel about her. I still enjoy her stories and am inspired by her generosity and selflessness.

St. Brigid’s Day is this coming Sunday. You might weave a cross or bake some bread and look forward to the generosity of the rebirth of the earth—spring!

Free Book!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

 

 

I love giving away my books but unfortunately, I can’t afford to give them all way. Still, once in a while I like to run a giveaway on my blog, and today is one of those times!

About the book:

In 5th-century pagan-dominated Ireland, Brigid is born a slave to her own father and is separated from her mother. Desperately seeking love and acceptance, Brigid becomes a believer in Christ. Knowing how the Irish people cling to superstitions and fears, can Brigid overcome them? Will her hatred for her father and a scheming evil sorcerer destroy her faith? Set in the era of St. Patrick, this fantasy-filled novel will captivate readers as Brigid must choose between God’s will and the desire to save her family.

Brigid of Ireland ebook

If you have an ebook reader, you might like to give this book a try. Even if you don’t, you can download the Kindle app for free and read on your computer.

If you like Irish history, ancient historical fiction, stories of adventure and struggles of faith, saints and druids, kings and monks, you might like this book.

The Giveaway

All you have to do is enter through Rafflecopter below. The more entries you choose, the more chances you’ll have to win. Thanks for participating!
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Why I Can’t Forget 2014

Clonmacnoise High Cross
Always remember to forget the troubles that passed your way.
But never forget to remember the blessings that come each day.
~Irish Saying

And that’s why I chose to count my blessings in 2014. Not that I haven’t learned from mistakes. The true purpose of making mistakes is to learn from them and try not to repeat them. But dwelling on them isn’t helpful. Novelists really do have to protect their minds and spirits in order to focus on writing stories that not only entertain but also inspire.

Now that I’ve written that, I realize that the bad things that happen in life also help to form inspiring stories so long as hope is still visible.

Looking Forward Without Blinders

Author Cindy Thomson's bookcasesComplaining about life only brings you down. Focusing on moving forward, on new opportunities, on the hopeful future is what motivates us to keep on going, don’t you agree? But if that’s all you do, you will miss out on the wonderful experience of counting your blessings. One of my characters (I’m sure it must have been Mrs. Hawkins or perhaps Grace’s mother) taught that no matter how miserable your life seems to you, there is always someone else who has it worse. That perspective is necessary if we’re going to avoid becoming bitter, complaining people no one wants to be around. So I’m taking time to reflect on the blessings that came to me in 2014. I am going to focus on my writing career for this list. I certainly have personal blessings beyond this.

My 2014 Blessings

*I had a second novel published with Tyndale House Publishers! This was a huge blessing. Cindy Thomson Books by the Banks Book FestivalGetting published by a traditional publisher is harder than ever (oops, slipped into a bit of complaining there!) but I was fortunate with this book. It could have very well not happened, but I worked hard, was blessed with fantastic editors and a tremendous cover, and Annie’s Stories was introduced to readers!

*Annie’s Stories was well-received. Sure, there were critics who didn’t like it, but the vast majority of folks who reviewed it, liked it, and most of those liked it a lot. That’s why I wrote the book, for readers. So this was extremely rewarding.

*I did a lot of mentoring in 2014, and I saw many of my students improve vastly. It was a privilege to witness their passion for telling stories. The future is bright with potential when it comes to novels!

*I was able to meet lots of readers this year. I went to many events: book launches, book festivals, multi-author signings, and I saw firsthand how much readers love books. That certainly blessed me.

* I had several media interviews surrounding the launch of Annie’s Stories. That’s a blessing because they are difficult to get for novels.Around Cincinnati radio

*At one of those events (The Dublin Irish Festival–Ohio) I sold a record number of books for me!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook*I was able to re-introduce Brigid of Ireland by making it available on Kindle. There were many blessings involved in that project, including two designer friends who donated their skills: Deirdra Doan who contributed opinions and some of the interior design, and Kim Draper who designed the cover and title page. They really blessed me, and readers too!

*I have learned so much about social media marketing that has helped me connect virtually with readers. My literary agency conducts a yearly marketing seminar, and I was able to go this year. I have also learned a lot from various webinars and newsletters.

*I had another college intern from Denison University this year. Elena did various tasks for me and make some valuable contacts.

*I have some viable ideas and directions for future novels. Woo-hoo! 🙂

Ready Now, Go!

Those were only a few of the blessings. And none about my personal life because I’m trying to stay focused on one topic. Focus, by the way, was My One Word for 2014. For 2015 it is Share.Sharing I’m not sure what I’ll be sharing, or what the whole scope of that word will reveal, but I’m ready to turn toward the New Year without complaining about the publishing industry. I have to make lemonade out of lemons, but that’s a challenge I can only meet if I keep that frame of mind–what I CAN do, not what I can’t. True, the industry has changed. Authors have been left behind in the dust for the most part. But blessings still abound and they will propel me forward in 2015. Ready, set, go!

Cyber Monday Books!!

Cyber Monday buy books

photo by Kevin Marks

Get My Special Cyber Monday Deal!

I could not let this day go by without offering a deal on a couple of my books. So here it is:

  1. Buy EITHER Brigid of Ireland or Celtic Wisdom through my website (print versions only.) Click on the book titles to be taken to the page.
  2. Send me a message to tell me that you’ve done that and you’d like to take advantage of my deal. Put “Cyber Monday Deal” in the subject line.

It’s buy one get one FREE!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson3. Tell me which book, Brigid of Ireland or Celtic Wisdom you’d like and I will mail to you for no additional postage. You can get a copy of each of them, or two Brigid, or two Celtic Wisdom. Buy two, get two free, and so on and so on…

4. Don’t forget to tell me how you’d like the books autographed. Books make great Christmas gifts, especially for those on your list interested in Irish topics and Irish history.

What you can do for me

It’s optional, of course, but I’d love it if you shared this on your Facebook wall or Tweeted it.Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Just copy:

Author   deal 4 u. Buy a book-already a great price-& get a 2nd 1 free no addit. postage: 

What Great Cyber Monday Deals Have you Found? Share in the Comments!

Cyber Monday Shop for books

photo by Mike McCune