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Monday, January 23, 2006

Author Interview~ Cindy Thomson

Cindy Thomson is a freelance writer living in the Columbus, Ohio, area with her husband and three sons. She is a former kindergarten and preschool teacher and writes on variety of subjects including family history, baseball, American history, and Irish history.

Her first novel, Brigid of Ireland, will be released in March 2006 by Monarch Books. Ms. Thomson has co-authored a full-length biography on baseball Hall of Fame member Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, published in 2006 by the University of Nebraska Press. Her work has appeared in anthologies, and she has written several feature articles for Family History Magazine, Family Chronicle, History Magazine, Christian Networks Journal, War Cry Magazine, Everton's Genealogical Helper, and publications of the Society for American Baseball Research.

She can be found on the Web at

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Brigid of Ireland, A Historical Novel, Monarch Books, March 2006. (distributed in the US by Kregel.)
This is my first published novel.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I wrote my first novel (still unpublished) based on my family history research. I started it in 2000 and that was my first serious plunge into writing for publication. During that process I attended several writers conferences and received many critiques from generous people.

In 2003 I signed with an agent and then went on to write another novel (also still unpublished.) I began publishing several articles, but still no fiction. Then one day while attending a local Irish festival, I picked up a book on saints and started reading about St. Brigid. She is a patron saint of Ireland. Of course St. Patrick is the best known Irish saint, but there are others with fascinating legends during a time when Christianity was in its infancy.

While pitching my novels at a conference, I pulled out a short story I had written on Brigid. The story received a lot of attention, and I wrote a proposal for a short story collection. It went to committee and was turned down. My agent thought it might be better received as a novel, so I worked on it and again it went to committee. Again it was turned down.

That's when I made the "mistake" that turned into a book contract. I asked my agent about a publisher in the UK. I told him they had published a similar book. He wrote a very strong letter in support of my project, and then I realized that publisher had not published the book I thought they had, and in fact, they published little if any fiction. I was so embarrassed. But, it was God's plan. The editor replied that they were interested. Two months later I had a contract.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Yes. I wonder if I can ever do this again. If my book bombs, no one will buy another one.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Don't worry about what you can't control. Write the best book you can.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

Write what you know. It actually may be good advice for some, but if you take it too seriously, it can stifle your writing. I like research. For me a better rule would be: write what you have a passion for—what you want to know.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I queried agents way too early. I wish I had been more patient, but then it's hard to know what you don't know you're supposed to know—strange as it sounds!

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

"You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvelous things I am doing ..." Exodus 10:2 NIV

That verse speaks about passing on the stories of old so that people will see who God is and always has been.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?
There have been some family problems that made it impossible for me to write for a time. I asked my prayer partners to pray for me, and that made such a difference. The struggles that I went through and those I watched others go through actually made my stories stronger and more realistic.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Such a hard question. My answer will likely be different every time I'm asked this.
I just finished Ann Tatlock's, All The Way Home. I was so impressed with both her research, and her technique: a Christian book that was not preachy.

I liked Sue Monk Kidd's, Secret Life of Bees for its beautiful descriptions of the characters' longings for acceptance and love.

A couple of other favorites: Francine Rivers', The Last Sin Eater, Lynn Austin's, Hidden Places, and Tricia Goyer's, From Dust and Ashes.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

I'd like to be Toto because that dog was so smart! But I identify with Dorothy, although I can't sing like her! I feel like I'm on a journey, a publishing journey. I have a few friends supporting me along the way, and some scary obstacles at times. But unlike Dorothy, I know I'll find my way home.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

Well, of course I'm delighted that my first book will be published, but this question made me immediately think of the Roaring Lambs award I received in 2003 from the Amy Foundation. The Amy Foundation encourages people to get pieces published in secular publications that promote Christian values and quote Scripture. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch concerning the question of whether or not God answers prayers.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

You bet. It's wait time. I tell people that God made me a writer simply because he wanted to teach me patience. I understand that editors are busy. I really appreciate those who acknowledge receiving a submission (one that has been assigned.) That keeps me happy for a while.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I wish I had such a thing, but until my children (two of whom are over 18) move out, I probably won't have a typical day. But mostly I get up around 7:00, read and answer e-mail, eat breakfast, do devotions, ride my exercise bike while reading a novel, shower, then read more e-mail and work on one project or another.

At various times during the day I have to help my children with something. I am sometimes working when my husband comes home and he makes dinner. If we don't have a church activity in the evening, I sometimes write more after dinner. Unless, of course, it's baseball season. Then I'm in front of the TV with my laptop, and I work and read e-mail between innings.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

Another question that I could answer differently on any given day. Today I'll say Stephen Lawhead's superb research skills.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I would love to have a large readership of non Christians who were inspired by my stories in addition to Christians.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Of course. But it didn't last long. Rejections tend to do that to you sometimes. You think, "Why even bother?" But then you wake up the next day and start all over again.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

I love making up stories. I suppose my favorite thing, besides working in slippers, is finding out someone enjoyed something I wrote.
Least favorite: low pay and finding out someone violated your copyright.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I am still learning. My advice is ask questions. My editor is very open to ideas. You never know unless you ask.

Parting words?

Thanks for the interview and for your blog, Gina. It's very interesting to read about other writers. Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my writing life.


  1. Thanks Cindy, I found your interview very encouraging. I always learn something new from these interviews and that didn't change with yours. I'd never heard of the Amy Foundation. Interesting. I'll have to learn more about them. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Like Gina, I'd never heard of the Amy Foundation, either. Thanks for sharing that. I chuckled reading about your "schedule," but I hate to tell you, it probably won't get any more regular, even after the kids move out. LOL I still haven't found a regular one. Mine changes wvery week, so I've given up trying. I just write whenever.

  3. You can check it out here:

  4. I'm glad to promote the Amy Foundation! Thanks, CJ, for passing along the URL. As Christian writers, we all certainly want to be able to share God's Word with the world. Think of how many people read a large city newspaper. A lot more than will read most books. I hope everyone gives it a try!

    Thanks again, Gina, for the interview. I'm trying to get a hang of this blogging thing and have started a blog to answer questions like: how did you get started wriitng and how did you get an agent. Anyone who's interested, come over to (I promise I'll be posting again soon!)

  5. God made me a writer simply because he wanted to teach me patience. Love that line. Too funny, too true. Thanks, Cindy.

  6. Great interview! Thanks, Gina and Cindy!

  7. CJ, thanks for sharing that link! Thanks everyone for your comments and support of these authors.


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