Writing is Easy, Life is Hard

The Hard Part

As I hinted in my newsletter this month (July 2019), life has been challenging lately. I know I’m not alone in this. We all experience the valley from time to time, right?

I’m inspired by the title of a book. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins has several biographies or autobiographies published. One of them, the one that I read, is titled, “The Game is Easy, Life is Hard.” It’s common knowledge that getting into the professional level of baseball is quite difficult. Continuing to play at that level is hard as well. Excelling at the Big League level long enough to be elected into the Hall of Fame happens only for a select few. But for Jenkins, all that was easy compared to the challenges and heartache he experienced in his life.

Similarly, getting published, selling enough to continue to get published…very difficult in this day and age. But easy compared to some life situations. I do not mean to make light of anyone’s challenges. Compared to a lot of people’s, mine pale. Yes, my mother passed away recently, June 25, just three days after her 90th birthday.

Left to right: Sharon, my mother, my paternal grandmother. Me in front.

I had my mother longer than many people have theirs. I have wonderful memories. She shared a lot of love. However, late in her life we experienced a long road of health and memory issues, about ten years when I think back on it. Combined with some family strife (extended family, not my immediate family) it has been quite challenging. My writing and my publishing success were undoubtedly adversely affected. I shared the care of my mom with my sister Sharon (in the photograph when we were growing up) and I’m grateful for the late nights she spent with my mom, her continual checking up on her care, and so much more.

Why I Bring it Up

Like I said, many people struggle with life issues. As I mentioned, Fergie Jenkins dealt with losing many people in his life, some to suicide. Life is short. Take nothing for granted. That was his advice. He admitted to me in person (I interviewed him when I was working on the book Three Finger) that he never felt strong enough to endure what life hurled at him. He just had to press on.

Joy Abounds

We are not guaranteed happiness, But joy? Look for it in all situations.

I have been receiving a lot of cards and they have blessed me. In one, I found the following comforting words: “Those we love who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith, have not been separated from us. They are really much closer to us because they now live in the fullness of God’s love…”

The Great Circle of Life

So, yes, life can be challenging. But we do not grieve as those without faith. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

While my mother was declining, a miracle came forth. Emree Jayne was not due until this month, but was delivered early and healthy. Just 12 days before my mother passed.

Grandbaby #3 has arrived!

What we do for an occupation may be difficult and challenging, whether playing professional ball, writing a novel, fighting fires, serving in the military, pastoring a church, or just working long hours to provide an adequate living. But what matters is who we are to the people around us. My youngest son said this in a Facebook post after his grandmother (my mom) passed away.

“I wanted my kids to know my grandmas. I am thankful that Maelee was able to experience the same joy you had every day that I experienced when I was a kid. …You set the standard for what it meant to love your family. Thank you for all the memories. You will be missed by the many lives you’ve touched.”

That. That is a legacy. Hard to achieve? Yeah, probably so. But so worth trying!

Researching the 1920s

Bits and Pieces

The 1920s will only be a small part of the novel I’m working on, but as we all know, we are made up of past events, and for my character WWI, the 1920s, the ’30s, all build to bring him where is in 1946. So, I have to go there with him.

Prohibition

When my character arrives in America in 1920, Prohibition is first set into law. He ends up in New Jersey where there are lots of rum runners, so…have to learn about that.

Guess what else was huge in New Jersey in the 1920s? The KKK. I’m discovering this is news to a lot of people. We know about the KKK in the south right after the Civil War. We know about the 1960s Civil Rights and the KKK. But what is lesser known is the reemergence in the north in the 1920s. Besides being anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, they were pro-Prohibition, meaning they supported it. They were all about the Constitution so they had to.

Rabbit Holes

Praying I don’t go down one. It’s fascinating stuff!

The Pause

photo: Cindy Thomson

Forced Rest

I took this photo during a time author Shelly Miller calls “Forced Sabbath.” That’s a time when we take a rest we hadn’t planned. The worse example of this is when we are sick. We are forced to rest, and can sometimes use that time for reflection and a time to seek God.

But on this day, it wasn’t anything like that. It was a snow day! That means I was not babysitting my granddaughter. I miss her, of course, but this was a bonus kind of day where I was up early anyway. So I sat in my office, prayed, reflected, and enjoyed the morning light coming through the window.

Everyone Needs Time to Rest

For most people, it’s hard to find time for this. Some people even avoid taking time to pause. They like to stay busy. I’m not talking about sleep, but intentional times to chill, goof off, read, relax.

We all need to rest, if only for a few moments. It’s amazing how slowing down improves your mood and your ability to focus. Jesus offered us rest when he said,  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) And he followed his own advice many times: “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” (Mark 1:35 NLT)

If you’d like to read more about Jesus and rest, I found this article.

Practice the Pause

In Shelly’s book, she doesn’t play the blame game. Start off giving yourself permission for just a few minutes if you can’t find time. You can expand as you get used to the idea. Like any spiritual discipline, pausing takes practice. If you forget or get distracted, or if something you must do comes up, just begin again later.

If you’re interested in Shelly’s book, you can find it here.

Do You Practice Pausing? Let me know in the comments. Share your own inspirational photo here or on my Readers Facebook Group.

Introducing Enya’s Son

True, it’s been out a few months. But time got away from me and I haven’t promoted it as much as I should. Better late than never, here is the book trailer for Enya’s Son, Book Three of the Daughters of Ireland Series. I’d love to hear what you think. If you’d read the novel, I would very much appreciate a review on Amazon, Goodreads or wherever you go for books on the web.

And be sure to visit Andy Rogers to hear more of his music.

Dear Readers, You Can Help!

FYI: This post was written by Cindy, not Tom.

Here’s an Easy-Peasy Way to Help Me!

See this book?

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

Ebook, Book One, Daughters of Ireland

It’s been out for many years, and yet in a Facebook group for readers of Christian fiction, someone asked for recommendations of books set 5th-6th century and no one recommended mine. There is a virtual ocean of books out there, so it’s hard to get noticed. I’ve been thinking about that, and I know of a way Brigid could get noticed by a ton of eager readers! (And thus, the two books that follow!) BookBub is a website that promotes free and low cost (.99 to 1.99) ebooks. I would have to apply for a promotion and be accepted, but I can’t just yet. I need at least 50 Amazon reviews. First, I need to convince Amazon to combine these:

If I can get them to combine them, that’s 36, so you can see, Brigid needs more Amazon reviews.Choose however many stars you’d like, write something brief or long, your choice. Even negative reviews count!  If you can write one, do so on the new cover: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PL4GNA6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

If you wrote one on the old cover, thank you!

And a Bonus!

If you read my previous post and/or received my Jan. newsletter, you know newsletter subscribers (who actually open the newsletter email) are entered to win the prize I described. You can earn an additional entry if you leave a review on Brigid of Ireland between Jan. 3 and Jan. 30. (Prize will be awarded Jan. 31)

ST. Brigid’s Day

St. Brigid’s Day is coming up Feb. 1. What a great way to observe the day by leaving a review or reading the book if you haven’t already. Or perhaps gift a copy to a friend!

Easy, Right?

What could be easier? If you’d like to help me out (and many of you have said you would!) just leave an Amazon review. Already done that? Tell your friends by creating a post on Facebook or Twitter or wherever you hang out online.

Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Out with the Old and In with the New? Not Exactly!

Photo by Crazy nana on Unsplash

My One Word

As some of you know, I choose a word for each new year. I’ve been doing this for many years now, influenced by a book called My One Word by Mike Ashcroft and Rachel Olsen. Over the years my words have included: kindness, focus, peace, listen…

I’m always amazed by the end of the year what the word taught me. It’s often not what I thought it was going to be, but sometimes it is! And even more.

My One Word

2018

The year had its challenges, as I’m sure it did for everybody. My word was remember. I had a clue what it was going to mean: remember God’s promises, remember your blessings. And it sure did mean that. But I have also been observing the great chasm when it comes to memories between two people. My 89-year-old mother’s memories have been slipping away at an alarming rate. My 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter’s are zooming in the opposite direction. I have pondered that many times. Memories are delicate, fragile, and precious. One of my author friends, Jim Rubart, wrote a novel influenced by the lost memories of his aging father. Look it up if you’re curious.

It was a good word. I learned a lot. I will keep it close as I’ve tried to do with all my past words. No, not out with the old, not completely because I need the past’s lessons.

2019

I only started thinking about it last week! Anyone else have the new year creep up on them? Sheesh! A word popped into my head at that point, but I wasn’t sure it was the right one. But after reading some and reflecting a lot, I realized it is my word for 2109:

I just ordered two of these little metal tags. One for me and one for a drawing for my newsletter subscribers, which reminds me, I need to get working on that newsletter! Are you signed up? If not, go here.

I expect 2019 to be a year that, if I am intentional about it, will be full of discoveries. About myself, about others, about God.

What’s Your Word?

Have you chosen a word? Did you have one in 2018? Let me know what it meant or means to you. Happy New Year, everyone!

P.S. : not published by Tom. I haven’t fixed that yet.

Editorial Review for Enya’s Son

I have had a little trouble posting to my web site. That is why you’ll see the author of this post as Tom, rather than me. I needed to use his login. It’s always something, right?

So when this review came in, I wasn’t able to share it right away. But I wanted to make sure I did share it with you. It was an honor for Enya’s Son to be recognized. Have you read it? If so, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads and on other sites you might use such as Barnes & Noble. Thanks in advance. These reviews help readers who are making buying decisions.

Enya's Son by Cindy ThomsonDaughter of Ireland Series, Book Three

This book can be read as a stand alone.

To view the map from the book, click here.

Enya’s Son

The International Review of Books 5 Star badge of achievement.
Character Development: 5 out of 5
Plot Development: 5 out of 5
Flow of Plot: 4 out of 5
Overall rating: 5 out of 5

A line in the book that stood out to the reviewer:
“I am a woman who is deeply troubled. –1 Samuel 1:15 NIV”

This was a wonderful book! It’s a story of good versus evil and kept me thinking about the characters long after I put it down. When an evil man threatens the safety of their son, Enya goes behind her husband’s back despite the dangers of traveling alone. It is a story of faith and forgiveness and love and compassion in a land filled with ancient rituals and superstition. The suspense and danger kept me up late and the rich history of ancient Ireland and the early days of the church make it a very interesting read!

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Look Out the Window

Advice From Fellow Authors About Life

Photo by Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

About five years ago the Christian writing community lost a novelist named Diann Hunt to cancer. She bravely wrote about her struggle in her last years, and I followed her on Facebook. In her last few months (she passed away in late November) she gave advice freely, not just on writing, but on life and the things that matter. I’ll never forget reading her words when she said, “Stop whatever you are doing right now and look out your window.” I was reading Facebook, so I looked away from my computer to my window and saw the most dazzling sight. It was autumn and the sun was striking the gold leaves outside my window at such an angle that they actually glowed. It was an amazing sight and I would have missed it if Diann hadn’t told me to look.

Another author, Liz Curtis Higgs, can always be depended on to shine God’s light and encouragement into our lives. She is also a cancer patient, but doing well right now. My goodness she has 30 appearances scheduled this fall! She was speaking at conference I attended recently and she was talking about humor. She said there is plenty to write about. “Just look out the window!” She’s right. Life gives us plenty to write about if we will just look. It also gives us plenty to reflect on.  When Liz said that, and repeated it a few more times, I was instantly taken back to that day I did look because of what Diann advised. I could have missed it. I could be missing plenty right now. So might you.

Photo by Kaye Hanson on Unsplash

Beauty All Around

We get so busy, don’t we? We forget. All it takes is a moment to refresh ourselves and to remember that there is a Creator who is constantly creating beauty whether we remember to look or not.

So, look out your window (or look up from your phone) and tell me what you see right now.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

September 2018 New Releases

 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

A Baby for the Minister by Laurel Blount — Jilted at the altar, Natalie Davis has no one she can turn to—until Jacob Stone steps in. The single minister’s drawn to the beautiful mommy-to-be and wants to help…even if it goes against his congregation’s wishes and could cost him his job. But when she refuses to accept charity, can he convince her she’s more than a ministry project? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Her Secret Heart by Mary Davis — Deborah Miller lives a double life as an Amish woman—and a fashion model! All photography is forbidden in her Plain community, so she must keep her job a secret. But when Amos Burkholder starts helping at her family’s farm, hiding the truth from him is impossible. And soon she must choose between the Englischer world of modeling and the Amish man she’s come to love. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

12 Gifts of Christmas by Lena Nelson Dooley — Can Malcolm MacGregor, a contemporary descendant of Scottish lairds, capture the heart of Brazilian-Italian beauty, Alanza Cantalamessa, in 12 days? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

All Made Up by Kara Isaac — Katriona McLeod has never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she’s ever loved. When she accepts a job as a make up artist on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she’s cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Holiday Wedding by Carrie Lighte — On the brink of losing her bakery, the last thing Faith Yoder’s interested in is courting—until Hunter Schwartz returns to Willow Creek. After hiring him to deliver her treats to a Christmas festival, Faith’s determined their relationship will stay strictly professional. But despite a secret that’s kept her single, Faith can’t help but wish she and Hunter could become husband and wife. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Holiday by Marissa Shrock — The Christmas season greets Georgia Winston with a new boyfriend (maybe), a Christmas program to run, and a man dying at her feet. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction

From the Lake to the River by JPC Allen, Bettie Boswell, Carole Brown, Sandra Merville Hart, Tamera Lynn Kraft, Sharyn Kopf, Michelle Levigne, Cindy Thomson, and Rebecca Waters — Set in Ohio, in the past and present, these nine short stories and novellas by Ohio authors cover a wide range of genres, topics and locations. From Troy in the west to the North Coast and south-central Ohio. From Lake Erie to the Ohio River. From romance to YA adventure, with touches of mystery and humor. Dealing with historical events and situations, such as floods and the lasting effects of the Civil War. With characters involved in square dancing, theater, and music. Dealing with loss and danger, a second chance at love and taking a chance on love for the first time. Chances are good, no matter what you have a taste for reading, you’ll find something to like. Welcome to a taste of the Buckeye State! (General Contemporary from Mt Zion Ridge Press)

Place Called Home by Brenda S. Anderson — While building his graphic design company, Nate Brooks is focused on the future he’s dreamed of: traveling around the country from the comfort of his renovated school bus. But when he picks up a wounded, mysterious hitchhiker, those well-laid plans take a backseat to protecting her. Hobbled by her injury, and unable to keep running from her controlling ex, Tessa fears she’ll never find freedom. Or has she found it with the family who graciously opens their home to her? And will Nate’s protection put his family–and his heart–at risk? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann Nelson — Jillian Connors has big expectations for her teenage daughter, Gabby, an Olympic hopeful—until Gabby becomes pregnant with her boyfriend Travis’s child. Meanwhile, Margaret Owens is furious that Gabby’s condition jeopardizes her son’s baseball scholarship. In the midst of the family drama lies the fate of the unborn baby. What does the future hold for him? (General Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Historical:

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson — A gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted the evils of the Hitler regime in their own extraordinary way. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick — A Victorian woman who traveled 15,000 miles by stage between 1870-98 decides to tell the story behind her memoir believing her husband will never see it. (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Enya’s Son by Cindy Thomson — This retelling of the early life of St. Columcille and his mother will usher readers on a fateful journey through ancient Ireland’s monastic centers, her wild coastline islands, and the land Columcille believed was filled with holy angels, a place where he felt safe … yet was destined to abandon. (Historical, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:

Victorian Christmas Brides by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstads, and Erica Vetsch — Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Esther’s Temptation by Lena Nelson Dooley — Saddle weary, former deputy US Marshal Jac Andrews rides into Denton, Texas hunting a swindler-and-daughter criminal team and finally feels he’s caught up to them. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted by the lovely redhead, Esther Brians. Esther, feeling like an old maid surrounded by all her close friends who are happy married couples, is drawn to the intense gaze, blue as the Texas sky, of an unknown cowboy. But several things cause her to become wary of his intentions—and his spiritual well-being. Has this unsaved lawman captured Esther’s heart or will the Lord deliver her from the temptation of Jac’s presence? What will it take for Jac to win this lovely lady and become Esther’s husband? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler — Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents’ insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother’s name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother’s place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Romantic Suspense:

Loving the Texas Negotiator by Mary Connealy — Beth Garrison is the top hostage negotiator in Rocky Ridge Texas. She’s called in to a task force to investigate a killing that is a copy cat of her first bust as a rookie cop. The Valentine Killer.
Tate McCade, with the best arrest record on the force and a reputation for steamrolling anyone who gets in his way, heads the task force. He’s had a run-in with Beth and her oversized ego. He’s got a bruise on his face to prove it. Rather than have the pleasure of busting her back to walking a beat, he has to work with her. And the clock is ticking because there’s a woman and child missing and nothing about the crime adds up. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Speculative:

Guardian of Ajalon by Joan Campbell — The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, her only respite is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock. Unwilling to sit idly by as her kingdom is destroyed, Queen Nyla leaves her hiding place to recruit a most unlikely army—the Charab. But how can she win over the infamous assassins who have been oppressed by her family for generations? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)