Annie’s Stories (Ellis Island): Cindy Thomson

Interview With Cindy Thomson

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

10webCindy: Genealogy. My first novel (yet to be published) is about my ancestors coming to America. I couldn’t find out everything I wanted to know about them, so I looked into the social history of those immigrants in the time they came over, right before the Revolutionary War. Then I made stuff up! From there I went on to write for genealogy magazines (stuff I did not make up) and learned about writing fiction.

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Cindy: Seriously for publication about 15 years. I have always dreamed up stories though.

Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Cindy: Because of the ability to publish quickly now by doing it ourselves, my advice is not to rush to publication. It takes time to learn the craft. I’m still learning. Never underestimate the value of a professional editor. And by professional I don’t mean English teachers or someone who also writes novels. Those people might be smart and even helpful, but someone who makes a living editing books will be the most useful to you when it comes to creating a story that will appeal to a publisher or agent. And you want your best work out there.

Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Cindy: The stories that my character Annie Gallagher treasures are not in the novel. They are referred to and somewhat described, but the stories are not there. I do, however, have them and will be making them available to my newsletter subscribers. You can sign up here:

Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

Cindy: I’m working on book three of the Ellis Island series, but it’s not yet contracted. I’m also working on a book that has both a contemporary storyline and a historical one. It’s fresh in my mind right now so all I’ll tell you is the historical part is 1946 at Wrigley Field and it has something to do with that big scoreboard and a female baseball franchise employee.

Susana: What are you reading now?

Cindy: Swimming in the Moon by Pamela Schoenewaldt. I love immigrant stories and hers are filled with wonderful detail.

Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Cindy: A teacher. And I was. I left the classroom several years ago but I still teach by mentoring writers through the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.

Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Cindy: Some of my readers might be surprised to learn that I’m an avid baseball fan (Go Reds!), have written baseball biographies, and am a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR.) I am often the only woman at meetings. My SABR friends know about my novels (they buy copies for their wives.) Of course my cover will be blown if I am fortunate enough to publish the Wrigley-themed novel I mentioned above.

Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you most likely want to go? Why?

Cindy: This is something my readers WOULD know. I would go to Ireland. I would also go to Wales since I recently discovered a family line that goes back to Nantucket and the Massachusetts Bay Colony and then back to Wales in the 17th century. There is plenty there to write about!

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Cindy: The Irish are famous for their witty sayings. One I particularly like (I have a saying or a scripture before every chapter in my novel Brigid of Ireland) is this one:

If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes.

Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?

Cindy: I have, yes. I’ve written non-fiction as well. Historical fiction is my favorite and I’d love to stick with that but I will have to see what comes my way.

Susana: What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

Cindy: Very simply I’d love to have a new publishing contract. There are no guarantees in this business. The reason I’d like to continue turning out novels is because I would like more readers. They are the reason I write and it’s my desire to keep bringing my stories to them.

Susana: Every writer dreams of getting “the call.” What were you doing when yours came? Who got to hear the good news first?

Cindy: Regarding my Ellis Island series contract: I was watching TV and about to go to bed. My agent lives on the west coast and I’m in the Eastern Time Zone. He called and then hung up before I could answer. He’d forgotten how late it was. But then he decided to call back anyway—he probably figured I wouldn’t mind considering what he had to say. After we talked about the offer, he told me I could go back to watching TV now. Yeah, right! I woke my husband up and told him. I’d like to say this to encourage new writers: I waited seven years between fiction contracts. I had almost given up hope, but my agent thought there was a chance for an immigrant series so I pressed on. I did have to switch time settings from what I originally had in mind, but listen to those who are veterans in the business, keep learning, and write the stories of your heart.

About Annie’s Stories: Ellis Island

Annie's Stories Coversmaller copyThe year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

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The first chapter:

About the Author

Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing, including her new Ellis Island series. Cindy is also the author of Brigid of Ireland and Celtic Wisdom: Treasures from Ireland. She combined her love of history and baseball to co-author the biography Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s Larry Ritter Book Award. In addition to books, Cindy has written on a regular basis for numerous online and print publications and is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Cindy and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio. Visit her online at

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