Thursday, June 06, 2013

GRACE'S PICTURES - Cindy Thomson - One Free Book

Welcome, Cindy. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Not too much, I hope! There are some major differences between Grace and me. She had an abusive father, I had a loving one. I’ve never had to live in a workhouse or travel alone to a new country, so those emotions had to come from other experiences I’ve had (not as severe) when I’ve felt alone, unsure, and afraid. Owen desperately wants to fit in with the people in his neighborhood even though he is not an immigrant like they are. I think we’ve all wanted to fit in and be accepted at some point in our lives.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hmm…maybe stay the night at a monastery in Ireland run by French monks where silence is practiced. Come to think of it, maybe that was where I got the experience of trying to fit in.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I suppose when someone paid me for something I wrote. I got $25 for an article on a web site, and to think someone liked what I wrote enough to pay me for it really boosted my confidence. I kept on writing after that, sometimes even for free.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Wow. My reading taste is all over. I love historical fiction probably the most. I also love non-fiction history books and biographies, especially baseball biographies. But I read contemporary fiction sometimes as well. I sprinkle in some spiritual books (I really want to read more C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald) along with books on the writing craft. I’m drawn to some Celtic-themed books as well.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It is crazy sometimes, isn’t it? I need alone time. If I skip my prayer time in the morning things inevitably do not go smoothly that day. I make family a priority. I think if you know you are firmly rooted you deal with stress so much better.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
For Grace’s Pictures, I chose Grace because it’s a name that appears in Irish history, like the pirate queen Grace O’Malley. I could say I chose it because she needed grace, but that would apply to us all. Owen is also an Irish name and I just liked it.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Having just seen my youngest son married to a wonderful girl he met at church, I suppose I’m most proud of raising three terrific young men. I had help, of course, my husband and lots of prayer.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
No one ever asked me that before! Hmm … a bird, I think because it must be a wonderful feeling to be able to fly and experience absolute freedom.

What is your favorite food?
Pizza, although I can’t eat regular cheese. But even without it, pizza is the thing I miss the most once my husband started eating gluten-free. I love lots of veggies on mine.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Plotting. I was too much of a seat-of-the-pants writer and it caused me to do much more work than if I had properly outlined ahead of time. It’s difficult for me to outline. I like to write the story and figure out what’s going to happen and why as I go along but that has gotten me off track too many times. Brainstorming with other authors helped me a tremendous amount.

Tell us about the featured book.
Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

Please give us the first page of the book.
December 1900
“May I take your photograph, miss?”

Grace McCaffery spun around. She had passed through the inspections without a problem and was on her way downstairs, where she would meet the aid society worker. What now?

“A photograph?” A man stood smiling at her, next to a large camera. She’d only seen one of these machines before, and that was on the ship.

“Why?” She bit her lip. Was everything about to fall apart now?

“For prosperity. It’s your first day in America.” He handed her a small piece of paper. “My name and address, should you later wish to see it. It will only take a moment of your time and then you are free to continue on.”

Free sounded good. “What do I do?”

“Stand under that window—” He pointed toward one of the massive windows. “—and look this way.” Streams of late-afternoon sun shone in through the ornamental ironwork, tracing odd shapes on the tiled floor.

She did as he asked.

“Now look up, miss.” He snapped his fingers. “Look toward the camera.”

Her eyelids were iron weights, but she forced herself to look his way, wanting to get it over with.
After she heard a slight pop coming from the camera, he dismissed her. “Welcome to America!”

America! Ma should see Ellis Island and all the people milling about. Grace sat down on a bench just to the right of the stairs to collect the thoughts rambling around in her head like loose marbles. Imagine, a girl like her, now free in America. She would not have envisioned it herself a few weeks ago. Exhausted, she dropped her face to her hands as she relived what had led her here.


“Must go to the workhouse.” Huge hands snatched wee Grace from her bed. “Your da is dead. Behind in your rent and got no means.”

Grace kicked with all her might. “Ma!”

An elbow to her belly. Burning. She heaved.

“Blasted kid!” The policeman tossed her onto a wagon like garbage.


“I’m here, Grace. Don’t cry.” Her mother cradled her as the wagon jolted forward. “Oh, my heart. You are special, wee one. So special to God.”

Heat emanated from the burning cottage, the temperature torturing Grace’s face. She hid against her mother’s shoulder.

Later, they were pulled apart and herded into a building.

A dark hallway. The sound of water dripping.

Stairs. Up the stairs. Following other children. So many children. Was her mother dead?

Interesting and intriguing. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My Twitter handle: @cindyswriting
My Facebook author page:

Thanks for having me, Lena!

It's my pleasure and great blessing, Cindy.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Grace's Pictures  -
Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island) - Amazon
Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Google +, Feedblitz, Facebook, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


pol said...

This sounds like a wonderful story Cindy, thanks for sharing your info today along with the book.
I like to read stories where folks are trying to make good with a second chance...
Paula O(
a reader from Ga

Cindy Thomson said...

Thanks, Paula. Thank God for second chances. :)

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the wonderful interview. By chance are you of Irish roots Cindy? I have a wee bit in me, mixed in with a few other things. GRACE'S PICTURES sounds wonderful. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Rosie Wilson said...

What a cute cover and intriguing peek into your book, Cindy! :)

Rosie from OH

Casey said...

I love the cover of this one!

Casey from Oregon

Deb said...

I would love to read this.

Deborah D, FL

Wendy Newcomb said...

Nice interview! Thank you for hosting this giveaway.

Wendy in FL


Cindy Thomson said...

Thanks, everyone. Yes, Cindy, I have Irish roots. My ancestors came over in 1771. I've been to Ireland twice and have friends there. But I have to say after having visited Ellis island is a must-see. Seeing history on both sides of the pond is inspiring.

Cathy said...

Great interview. I also would love to read more of C.S. Lewis.

And this book sounds like a interesting story! Would love to win a copy.

Thanks for the giveaway. : )

Cathy from B.C. Canada

Mary Preston said...

What a fabulous idea for a story. Thank you for the wonderful first page.

Mary P


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

apple blossom said...

thanks for chance to win
live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Amy C said...

I have been wanting to read this since I first heard about it. Love the interview.
Amy C

Marianne Barkman said...

It is so true that we want to fit in, in our families, our friends our co-workers, community. And feelings are universal. I would love to win!


Bookishqueen said...

Looks like a good book!
Rebekah Gyger TN

Anonymous said...

Sounds so good!!!

Katie J. from Florida

Library Lady said...

I absolutely love the cover of this book and can't wait to read it. I will be buying this book for the Church Library but would love to win a copy for myself.
Janet E.

Patty said...

Hope you power came back on!

I think NYC, even back then would be a very exciting place to be.

Patty in SC

Cindy Thomson said...

Thanks. I love the cover too. I had the unique opportunity to visit Tyndale as the designer was working on the cover and I saw several shots from the camera shoot. Tyndale does do a wonderful job and the cover was pretty much what was in my head.

MsRubyKat said...

LOve the interview. This book sounds really great. Would love a chance to win a copy. Thank you.
Karen from Troy, NY

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

Enter me!

Anonymous said...

I love photography and love the cover of the book. Sounds interesting, too!
Please enter me.
Brittany M. (TX)

Jo said...

I would love to read this book. Sounds like it is one that I would really enjoy.

Jo from Southern Arizona

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me this book looks great!!
Sharon Richmond

Heidi said...

As a photographer this sounds right up my alley! Can't wait to read it!

Heidi, CA

jojo said...

Love the idea of the whole story and the cover of the book is great. I have some Irish in my background and so the book caught my eye right away! I am from Wisconsin.Thanks for the opportunity to win.

CarlybirdK said...

Wow! This sounds like a really interesting book, so unique. I would love to read it.
Carly in NC

sm said...

I had a brownie camera! Sounds like a great story to include picture taking as a way to get her mom to America. Love to win! sharon, CA

Kristie said...

Early photography has always interested me! My husband makes our pizza including the crust. I have eaten soy cheese on a pizza once and contrary to the package it does not "melt great." I love to brainstorm ideas and think out loud (talk to myself). I'm also writing myself little notes all the time. Sometimes they are very cryptic. Ha ha. Kristie from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

rubynreba said...

Grace's Pictures looks like a wonderful book!
Beth from Iowa

Merry said...

I enjoy immigrant stories, Ellis Island and a great mystery. Thanks for a chance to win Grace's Pictures.
Merry in MN

Katie G. said...

Sounds wonderful! Please enter me. I'm from NC.

Cindy Thomson said...

Thanks, everyone!

Cindy Thomson said...

Thumbs down on soy cheese. There is some vegan cheese that is pretty good.

sharon m said...

Thanks for the contest and the book GRACE'S PICTURES is very interesting since Grace comes to NYC from Ireland. My family is from Ireland and I used to live on Long Island and went into NYC often on the train. sharon, CA

Cindy Thomson said...

Glad there's a connection, Sharon. I hope many people sense it even if they're not from NYC. Visiting is an incredible experience.

Kay from NY said...

This sounds like a very interesting book to read. Putting this one on my wish list. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.
Kay from NY

Michelle said...

Sounds like a great book, would love the chance to read it.


jojo said...

Sounds like a great read! thanks for the opportunity. I am from the good old state of Wisconsin, with Norwegian roots!