Tag Archives: novels

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

 

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!

An Old Book Gets a New Life

Out of Print? Nope!

It happens, authors know it but dread it just the same. Not many books live forever. Or do they? That used to be the reality. When a book ceased to sell enough copies to satisfy the publisher, they put it out of print. An author can get the rights back (the rights to the story, not the cover or artwork) but in most cases that was the end of the line. Was. Now authors can easily reprint their books or put them out as ebooks, or both. With a fresh cover and more opportunities to reach readers through social media outlets, a book can live again.

My First Novel

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy ThomsonMy first published novel (I have several unpublished novels), was born into the market in the spring of 2006. I loved the process of writing this one, loved the Irish theme, loved imagining how a saint whom many believe never was a flesh-and-blood person could have actually existed and performed miraculous deeds. My publisher kept the book in print for seven years, not the norm for novels today. I actually earned royalties on this book. 🙂

When it went out of print, they allowed me to purchase the remaining stock. I still have a few boxes of the print version that I sell for just five bucks. But, in 2006 nobody was doing ebooks. Well, almost no one. Certainly not Monarch Books.

Introducing the 2014 Brigid

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookMy friend Deirdra Doan and I have bartered back and forth for editing (me) and artwork (her.) She has read this book and when it came time to create a new cover, she introduced me to her friend Kim Draper. I’m so glad she did! Kim created a lovely cover that I feel conveys the mystery and intrigue of the story.

I chose to publish the ebook on Kindle exclusively for now because most ebooks are sold on Amazon and even if a reader doesn’t have a Kindle, he or she can download the app on their computer for free and read it there. Here is the buy link.

Finding New Readers

That is my goal. I have heard from so many readers over the years who have enjoyed Brigid of Ireland, but of course there are many more who have never read it. I’m aware that some people prefer to read ebooks, and some for physical readers must read electronically. These days novels are published in both print and ebook formats (as are Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories.) Some may wish to go back and read my first novel after they read those two, and now they can!

When Brigid of Ireland first came out, my publisher and I were thinking the book was for adults. But so very many young girls have enjoyed it, and there is nothing objectionable that should prevent them from doing so. I have signed the book for girls as young as nine! Of course, these girls are reading above their grade levels. I’m mentioning this in case there is anyone out there is looking for an adventure story set in ancient Ireland for a young reader. Maybe for a Christmas gift?

At one of my first book signings a young girl and her father paused at my table. The girl told her father she loved that book. I was amazed she had read it! She told me she read it for a book report for school. As a former teacher and a current mentor to some young writers, that really made my day. Well, my year at the least. Seeing as there is lots of action in the story, I think boys would like it too, but of course girls relate to Brigid who is a young woman in the story.

One of my earliest fans was the 14-year-old daughter of one my fellow novelists. When I sent my friend my new novel, her daughter snatched it from her to-be-read pile and read it first! I sent her a t-shirt. She is a young woman today, but this was her then.

Jenni, a fan of Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Her review from back then:

Jenni’s Review

My name is Jenni and I’m a freshman at Concordia-Academy Bloomington (a Lutheran high school). I love to read and am currently working on writing a novel of my own. I like fencing and archery, playing flute, piano and guitar, and I hate geometry (but like algebra).

I took Brigid of Ireland from the stack of my mom’s books because the description on the back cover sounded interesting, and the cover was pretty. I liked the chapter openings with quotes – some Bible verses and some Celtic blessings or sayings.

But most of all, I absolutely loved the STORY of Brigid of Ireland. It has such a gripping plot, and is a great inspiration to my faith.

I’ve recommended it to all of my friends, knowing that they would love the suspense and heartbreak in it, as well as the spirituality. I admire Brigid’s strong faith throughout all her troubles. It gives me strength to go through tough things.

In addition to sharing this terrific book with adult friends, consider buying a copy for a daughter, student, niece, or other young woman in your life!

And Finally, Something for you!

Who would you recommend Brigid of Ireland to? Tell me and I’ll enter you in a drawing for your choice of either the ebook or the print version. Only comments on this blog post by Dec. 3, 2014 are eligible, and only if claimed by Dec. 31, 2014. Subscribe to the comments or check back to see if you’ve won. Update. Karen Lewis is the winner of this book. Congrats and thanks for commenting, Karen!

Farewell to the Christian Writers Guild

Mentoring with the Christian Writers Guild

Christian Writers GuildI began mentoring the Guild several years ago, starting with the Pages program for kids when it was first introduced. I was thrilled to be included, and as a former teacher I loved that it gave me the chance to teach again. Over the years the Guild asked me to include Squires (for teens), several of the short adult courses, and in the last year the adult courses referred to as Apprentice and Journeyman Fiction. I also did a couple of critiques, attended the Writing for the Soul conference to take appointments as a mentor, and judged the first round of The First Novel Contest for several years. Besides my students, which I enjoyed walking through these courses, I met other mentors and employees of the Guild that I count among my friends. Wonderful people.

Jerry JenkinsJerry Jenkins

I heard Jerry relate his reasons for buying the Guild in 2001 many times at conferences and meetings we had in Colorado. He believed (and I’m sure he still does) that Christian writers ought be just as good or better than mainstream writers. We should represent Christ by writing with excellence. And to this end he wanted to train Christian writers and the Guild was the way to do that, a means to give back. He gave of his time and his resources. If anyone thinks it was a money maker, they’re wrong.

Anyone who has witnessed his “thick-skinned critiques” understands how much he cared about teaching writers. He even chose carefully each mentor and employee of the Guild. But as time marched on, he wanted to focus on his family and his own novel writing. The time had come to close the doors. Some have reported that he did this “suddenly” but that’s not true. The man doesn’t make impulsive decisions. Not that I’ve witnessed anyway. It was a process.

One thing I learned over the years about the man is that he’s a perfectionist, but a kind one. Did you know he wears an atomic watch so that he’ll always know the exact time? When we had mentor meetings he used it to make sure we started each session on time. So it makes sense that he is now personally making sure the students and members currently enrolled in the Guild finish and receive all they’ve been promised. And the mentors still get paid for the work they have left to do. He is honorable. Make no mistake.

Endings and Beginnings

I hate saying good-bye to an organization that has done so much so well. But an ending creates the opportunity for something else to commence. I am open to that. I’ll be mentoring in other ways, including offering short critiques that interested writers can sign up for right here on my site. But I’m still just a wee bit sad.

What endings have you experienced that ended up opening new doors? Please share!

Loving Books That Read to Me!

Audiobooks to Love

Audiobooks, a blog post by Cindy Thomson

Photo by Sascha Kohlmann

I get my reading done in several ways. I’m not one of those that proclaim ebooks as the only way to go these days or one of those who insist on having a real paper book in their hands. I do it all, including audio, because they each offer their own conveniences. Long car trips call for audiobooks, especially if I’m driving. But I also like to listen while I do the laundry or clean the house or take a walk. You would be surprised how much time there is to read if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Narrators, the Good and the Bad

The quality of audiobooks vary, but I get mine from the library so I don’t mind giving up on them if I don’t care for either the book itself or the narration. Recently I gave up on one because I liked neither. The narrator was so sing-song sweet it made me nauseous. I dislike when the narrator swallows loudly on tape or forgets which character he is voicing and gets it mixed up. Just my own personal pet peeves.

The All-Girl FillingHowever, some are wonderful. Like Fannie Flagg. Oh. My. Goodness. You have to listen to her and her southern drawl. Another author narrator I thought did an excellent job is James Rubart. Some folks just have the voice for it. (Not me!)

I have listened to enough Irish books that I began to recognize the narrator. She has just enough Irish lilt to her voice to add flavor but not so much that we Americans can’t understand her. Her name is Sile Bermingham (Sile is pronounced Sheila.) She narrated Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd and some Maeve Binchy books.

I think Adam Verner does a wonderful job with Stephen Lawhead’s novels. He’s done other work too, but Lawhead is my experience with him. Nice, non irritating voice. Want to have a listen?

Top Honors: My Favorite Narration So Far

Goes to….

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.The Help Different voices for different characters. It was like listening to a play. Of course, it’s a wonderful book as well.

What’s your favorite audiobook?

3 Books I’ve Read This Year

Why Just Three?

Basically so that I can talk more about books in a later blog post! I’ve read more than these, but I’m behind in my self-imposed Goodreads challenge. The truth is, I’ve given up on several books this year, so if you count partial reads, I’m beyond my challenge. I know that people feel differently on the topic of whether or not to finish a book that you’ve already invested time in, but for me I’m not going to stick with a book that doesn’t grab me–especially if it irritates me. (Another topic for another post!)

So I thought I’d pick a few that I did enjoy and showcase them.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Have I mentioned that I love historical fiction? Since this one was a best-seller, I decided to give it a try. Rich in detail surrounding the Chinese and Japanese communities in Seattle and California both during WWII and in the 1980s, this book had a mystery to be solved and a character’s heart that needed healing. Loved it!Hotel_on_the_Corner_of_Bitter_and_Sweet_cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

My reading list usually contains a few books by Irish authors. I’ve found some really wonderful stories from over the pond. This one is set during the troubles when teenage Fergus and his uncle discover a bog buried in a bog. This happens from time to time in Ireland because bogs preserve history. With the mystery of how this child was murdered back in ancient times, Fergus’s brother protesting his political imprisonment by starvation, and his unlikely friendship with a British boarder guard, the story kept me enthralled. Highly recommended.

bog child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

After visiting Gettysburg I wanted to learn more about how the battles affected the small population of townspeople. This book was just the thing. Not at all easy to read about, but realistic and compelling. As Liberty Holloway endures trial after trial, she also learns something about herself and her ability to care for everyone no matter their race or political conviction. But that is nothing compared to what she learns about the mother she’d never known, and a history she had no idea she was a part of. It’s also a love story, and a story about compassion, which is welcome considering the horrific subject.

The Widow of Gettysburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these novels? I would love to hear what you thought!