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!

 

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

On the Hill of Slane ©Cindy Thomson

On the Hill of Slane ©Cindy Thomson

Remembering the Patron Saint

Yes, there are three patron saints of Ireland. You’ve probably heard me say that before: St. Patrick, St. Brigid, and St. Columba. But most people associate St. Patrick with Ireland, and legends extoll his bravery and evangelical spirit. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, and while he was not the first Christian there—pockets of Christianity may have existed on the island for decades prior to Patrick’s arrival—he probably did the most to give the religion a firm stronghold. If you’d like a short history on Patrick and all the ancient Irish saints, please pick up a copy of my book, The Roots of Irish Wisdom.

One Important Lesson

Why St. Patrick's own words should be read today. Click To TweetIf you don’t learn anything else about the saint, this one lesson is enough. From his own words in his Confession:

…daily I expect to be murdered or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises.

Why? Because after Patrick was enslaved in Ireland, escaped back to Britain, and educated in the religious order as a bishop, he returned to Ireland, the place of his captivity. Why? Because in a dream an angel came to him and delivered a letter. The letter said, “The Voice of the Irish.” And he heard the Irish people calling to him, “Come, holy boy, and walk among us again.” He felt he had to go. Those people needed the God he knew.

“But I fear nothing because of the promise of Heaven; for I have cast myself into the hand of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere…

Oh, to have such faith and trust!

Following Patrick’s Footsteps

From The Roots of Irish Wisdom: “It was in Saul that Patrick is said to have first preached in Ireland. At the summit of nearby Slieve Patrick stands a statue of the saint erected in the 1930’s. Visitors can make a pilgrimage there…A reconstructed church with round tower stands in Saul on the site where it is believed Patrick founded a church in a barn. (See picture below.)

When I went to Ireland I visited many of the sites associated with St. Patrick. Saul is my favorite, a thin place where you can sense the worship of so many souls who were there before you.

Church at Saul

But you do not have to go to Ireland to follow Patrick’s way, although I hope you do. Reading his words, hearing his story, and thinking about your own legacy and how it can be shared is all that is necessary. To read his Confession: go here. To read the other writing we know is from his hand, go here.

A Blessing to Take With You

As he brought new faith to Ireland so may he bring to you a touch of Irish happiness in everything you do; and like the good St. Patrick, may your home and life be blessed, with all God’s special favors which make you happiest.

Irish shamrock photo by Genese Blomquist Sweeney

Irish shamrock photo by Genese Blomquist Sweeney

The Other Celtic Country

photo by plumandjello via Flikr

photo by plumandjello via Flikr

Learning About Wales

Here in America, we hear little about this other Celtic country. We are all about Ireland, which makes sense when you consider the number of Americans who have Irish roots, nearly a quarter according to some sources. And Scotland? We have Braveheart and tartans, just to name a few Scottish influences. There are numerous novels set in these two countries. There are also some novels set in Wales, but not nearly as many. We have the legend of King Arthur, which may come from Wales, but even that is debated.

Today is St. David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales. I wrote a little about this saint here on Celtic Voices.

My Ancestry

'Knuckles' - White Beach, Anglesey photo by Kris Williams via Flickr

‘Knuckles’ – White Beach, Anglesey photo by Kris Williams via Flickr

I have ancestors from the border region of Scotland, from Northern Ireland, from Cornwall, and from Wales. Cornwall and Wales are new discoveries for me, and my ancestors came from those areas very long ago—the first half of the seventeenth century. I will save Cornwall for another post, but my Welsh ancestors came from Anglesey, Wales. Anglesey is actually an island that stretches into the Irish Sea toward the Irish capital of Dublin. Anglesey has a rich Celtic history, which of course fascinates me. I have much to learn about its history still. I don’t know if in the 1500s and 1600s, Anglesey was involved in whaling. But my Anglesey ancestors certainly were people of the sea and fishermen. When they came to Massachusetts, they remained sailors and soon moved to Nantucket and became whalers. My Myrick family is most definitely rooted in Wales.

The Search Begins

My genealogy searches extend beyond names and dates. I want to know about places and about the history of those places. And of course, I want to go there. On my bucket list!

In future posts I’ll look at some novels set in my places of origin and share some of the history as I learn more.

Do you have anything to share about Wales? Please comment! And Happy St. David’s Day!

Update on My One Word

My One Word for 2017

I thought I’d give you an update since my post on My One Word. I have had some confirmation that I wanted to show you. First, if you didn’t read that other post (that’s okay, I won’t make you!) the word I chose, or the word I felt compelled to choose, is BELOVED. I don’t know if that sounds a little self-absorbed, so let me explain. I need to be reminded that God loves me. If I can keep that in the front of my mind as I go about my daily life, I should be able to feel less sorry for myself, less like a failure, and impose less negative self-talk. As I said in that linked post, on the show Touched By An Angel, the angels always proclaimed to the humans: God loves you.

It’s powerful to think about.

Beloved

I made my own “One Word” jewelry this year. But there are lots of good options on Etsy.

Little Hints

There have been some confirmations that I have the right word. The book pictured below was a Christmas gift from a friend. And see that little sticker? At church last Sunday a cute little girl named Bailey stuck it on my back. I didn’t know at the time why she was patting me on the back, but when I saw other random people with them, I started to figure it out. (Must have been a Sunday school project.) My son’s mother-in-law discovered it on my back when we went up for communion. Not everyone had one, mind you. A sign! So I stuck it on my book. I was not about to part with it!

66 Ways God Loves You

Why I Chose My Word

A big part of why I chose Beloved was a book I read. (No surprise if you know anything about me!) Let me know what words are inspiring you in 2017!

Deeply Loved

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2iXzDfA

99 Cent Books to Start the New Year!

Great Savings on Ebooks!

Grace's Pictures by Cindy Thomson

Book One, Ellis Island Series

What better way to start 2017 than with a great deal on some ebooks? My publisher has Grace’s Pictures on sale all month, along with some other great reads. Only 99 cents in January! Click here for the deal.

Grace’s Pictures is the first book of the Ellis Island series, so if you haven’t gotten started, now’s a great time.

But Wait, There’s More!

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

Book Three, Ellis Island Series

There is also a sale on Sofia’s Tune (book 3 in the Ellis Island series.) But you have to hurry with this one. The price is 99 cents for a couple of days, then goes up to 1.99 for a few days, and then back to its regular price of 2.99, which seriously is still a good deal.

Sofia’s Tune (Ellis Island Book 3) <<<Click this link for the deal.

 

That’s Not All!

a-house-for-agnes-cover-free-tag-picDid you know there is a sequel to the series? It’s short, but helps to explain how Mrs. Hawkins came to open Hawkins House, the setting of all three novels. And it’s FREE! You can’t do better than free. All you need to do is sign up for newsletter. You probably saw a pop-up, but if not, click here.

Happy Reading!

photo by Paul Bence

photo by Paul Bence

Better Than a New Year’s Resolution

2017My New Year’s Tradition

I’ve been picking a word each year, something that I think I’m supposed to learn. Usually, it means something different than I thought it would. Last year’s word, meant to me that I should do more of it: “Create” but it also meant I needed some re-creating of my heart and mind. There were so many ups and downs in 2016, that I had to be flexible and look at things differently sometimes.

My One Word

This year I have been hearing the message, a very good message, that God loves me. It’s an important message that I think I and many other people tend to forget. It’s way too easy to have a pity party. I don’t need to do that to myself. I feel more blessed with how my life is than perhaps any other time in my life. But still…we always want more, don’t we? And when we think our prayers are going unheard, especially when those prayers are for others, not ourselves…well, it’s easy to forget who loves us. So, #myoneword for 2017 is BELOVED.

I hope it reminds me daily that God loves me. Remember the popular TV show, Touched by An Angel? The characters were angels with orders to do things on earth to help people. And when they revealed themselves they announced, “God loves you.”

Chose #myoneword for 2017. Find out what my word is. Click To Tweet

A Good Book

I’ve mentioned this in past years, but just in case you’re interested in picking a word and want to know more about it, pick up this book. And if you’ve chose a word, let me know in the comments.

My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word

 

My One Word

Which Story Are You Telling This Christmas?

Cyber Monday Shop for books

photo by Mike McCune

Truth

I’m reading a book right now (listening to it, actually) titled The Truth According to Us. This post has nothing to do with that novel, however. Just the title. It intrigues me.  From what I’ve observed, we may uphold truth, but only the truth as we understand it. And when you think about it, that makes some sense. We are leaning on our own understanding. But, as sometimes happens in the aging process,  the time comes when you realize you might not have an open mind when you lean on your own understanding. If you look, observe, take plenty of time, you might just see something you hadn’t seen before.

The Christmas Story

Take the Christmas story for example. The birth of Jesus.  I’ve been seeing some posts on social media claiming that we’ve gotten it all wrong our whole lives. Jesus was not born in a stable. Houses had a level where they kept the animals, and it’s likely Joseph and Mary stayed with one of his relatives on the bottom level of the house. There was no inn nor any innkeeper to turn them away, not according to the Bible.

What's True About the Christmas story? #whatsimportant Click To Tweet

When I was teaching kindergarten, and in charge of the Christmas pageant, I needed an innkeeper. There were not enough parts for all the children, and there was always one child who wanted a speaking part, but didn’t want to be an angel. And if we did not have the drama of Mary and Joseph being turned away on that cold night, with the birth of the baby drawing near, there wouldn’t be enough drama for the play. I’m sure the innkeeper was invented by a bedraggled Kindergarten teacher probably sometime in the 2nd century.

photo: Crosswinds Community

photo: Crosswinds Community

Wherever they stayed, it was probably awkward, and not Mary’s first choice of birthing locations. We are given the story of a homeless family, although temporarily homeless. We are given a story that tugs at our hearts. The son of God coming without any earthly fan fare. If it weren’t for the angels speaking to the shepherds, or the star leading the wise men from the East, no one would have noticed, save for Mary and Joseph. The lack of the people’s understanding of what had happened could make a series of sermons, and probably has now that I think about it.

The Truth According to God

But that’s not the whole story. When I took the time to step away from the pageant (I haven’t taught Kindergarten for many years now) I began to see another story entirely. The one I think is the point of the whole thing. In the Book of Matthew 1:23, during the dream that Joseph had where an angel told him what was about to happen, lies a phrase that is so miraculous, so incredible and difficult to understand that it is sometimes washed over.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

I’m not talking about the fact that a virgin was going to give birth, which of course is miraculous, incredible, and difficult to understand. That is part of the Christmas story that we are very familiar with. I’m focused on the second part of that verse: Emmanuel, which means God with us. It’s incredible when you look at history. God had been silent for hundreds of years. And then….with us, in the flesh, to walk with people, eat with them, teach them, heal them, die, and rise from the grave. That is God being personal and intimate with his creation in a way he had not been for many generations.

What I Try to Remember

God is with us. We are his beloved children, members of his family. I ask myself if I have prepared my heart for his arrival. The people of his day had not. But I have the advantage of knowing the story. But then again, they had the prophecy.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.~Isaiah 7:14

They were still not ready. I’m not sure I am either, not the way I should be. But I try. I try to remember all these things like Mary did.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. ~Luke 2:19

Mary and Jesus

photo by PROWaiting For The Word

Merry Christmas!

When Feeling Thankful is Hard

What the World Needs Now

Sure, the world needs love, but seriously what the world needs now is more people with grateful attitudes. I’m afraid we’ve become complainers, at least in this country. I’m challenging myself to look for the good no matter what. I’ve faced some tough situations, and am currently facing some, but they aren’t things I can change, so I try to talk myself into focusing on what’s good about these things. Or at least, what good can be found.

The World Needs More Thankfulness Click To Tweet

Making the Decision

“If we think that impressive food, decorations, and presents constitute celebration, we will miss out on an important spiritual practice that will draw us toward the joyful heart of God.”~Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent

I took way more than 40 days to finish a 40 day devotional called Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent. But the important thing is I did finish it, today, two days before Thanksgiving. The last  chapter was titled Celebration and she spoke about Thanksgiving. I wrote down in my journal a couple of things she said that spoke to me. (I started this post a few days before I read this chapter. A coincidence that I was thinking about these things and then read this? Probably not.)

“…celebration is not restricted to times when everything is going perfectly.”

The quote above reminds me of The Grinch.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

So the celebration will come, how I respond is up to me. Keri drove that point home in Deeply Loved when she wrote:

“By choosing to be grateful, to celebrate and be joyful, we begin to feel thankful for what we do have, and to transform our attitude about life’s challenges. The discipline of celebration ushers in joy.”

#Feelinggrateful!

5 Reasons Not to be Envious of a Writer

1. Writers Get to Work at Home

Sounds great, right? Usually it is, but…when you forget how to put on makeup or what it feels like to wear shoes, you begin to feel like you are no longer a member of the human race.

Sonia Scommegna

Sonia Scommegna

2. Writers Can’t Say Words

Sometimes, it’s true. A writer is a reader and researcher, and many times this involves reading obscure or unfamiliar terms and not knowing how to pronounce them. Or, in my case, using Irish Gaelic, which is in no way logical. Want an example? Try this one: Taoiseach

Nina Stössinger

Nina Stössinger

3. Writers Drink, Eat, Too Much

Writers are famous for handling the stress of deadlines with coffee, or chocolate, or perhaps something else more destructive. Stephen King actually went as far as saying his addictions, even though he gave them up, made him a better writer. Personally, I’d rather be a better person than a better writer (if forced to choose between the two) but maybe that’s just me.

M Yashna

M Yashna

4. Writers Are Poor

Most of them, in financial terms anyway. Don’t take my word for it. The Guardian gave some details here.

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5. Writers Are Notoriously Insecure

We need support groups. If you believe the analogy that publishing a book is like standing naked in front of your living room window and pulling open the drapes, you’ll understand.

Brittany Greene

Brittany Greene

So, it’s not all roses, but holding a published book in your hands, hearing a reader say she was inspired by reading your story, having a tale to tell and being heard? Well, it’s all worth it. 🙂

Cindy Thomson Books by the Banks Book Festival