Saturday, November 1, 2014

Erin's Ring is Finished! (And Erin Go Bragh!)

It's All Saints Day, and coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally, I suspect) it is also the birthday of my beloved late mother-in-law.  She was one of the saintliest people it has ever been my privilege to know.

Mom was a raven-haired beauty, with translucent
 blue-green eyes and a dazzling smile.
Mom was Irish, through and through.  I've got some Irish blood in me, with a mom whose maiden name was Kelly, and I've got plenty of British blood from my Anglophile dad; but my husband's family on both sides has blood that runs almost pure Emerald Green.

I've always been extremely enamored of the Irish: of their looks, their wit, their love of music and dancing, their gift for storytelling.  (It's not surprising then, is it, that my first novel Finding Grace was a paean to the Irish?)  But what I love about them most is their devotion to their faith.

And I've always been fascinated by the story of my mother-in-law's immigrant dad, who came here at nineteen and never saw his family back in Ireland again.
'Tis himself, my husband's handsome grandfather.
Unfortunately, this Irishman after whom my husband was named died too young, when Mom was just a girl of ten.  She missed him her whole life.  The Feast of Saint Joseph was the anniversary of his death (again, I suspect this is not a coincidence!); my husband can remember the way she grieved for him every single year when March 19 rolled around  during the years he was growing up.  (I've written about this man before, if you want to read that post here.)

Erin's Ring is a story about Irish immigrants in my adopted hometown, Dover, NH.  We have lived here since late 1989, when our oldest son was half-way through kindergarten, and it didn't take me long to learn that this small city (settled in 1623, it's the oldest permanent settlement in the state) has quite a fascinating history.  And that history is very tied in with the 19th-century Irish-Catholic immigrants who came to work in the Dover cotton mills and played a huge role in several key events.  When Cheryl Dickow approached me with the opportunity to write another young adult novel for Bezalel Books, I knew almost right away just what I wanted to write about.  And I knew I wanted to dedicate this book, in part, to my husband's Irish grandfather.

It is with great joy and satisfaction that I was able to tell Cheryl that I think the galley is ready to go to print on this date.  I was up very late last night, skimming through the fourth galley she had sent, trying, as she put it, to make it as "perfect as it can be this side of Heaven."  I worked through Halloween night and into the wee hours of this morning; and finally, at about 3:30 a.m., I emailed her to say I think it's a go.

I didn't plan to finish Erin's Ring up today.  The original appointed deadline for having the manuscript completed was December 10.  But it's so interesting that it worked out this way.  Not only is it my mother-in-law's birthday; but there was a tragic incident that actually occurred here in Dover in 1870, late on the night of October 31 and into the wee hours of November 1 (and it will play a part in the story).  How fitting that during those very hours, I was busy making a final sweep through my manuscript before giving Cheryl the green light!

When I set out to write this book, I had the idea that it would be "about 15 chapters long."  But it ended up being 17.  I love the symbolism there, because Saint Patrick's Day is March 17.  That's not an important thing, I know; if it had taken 16 or 18 chapters to wrap the story up, that would have been fine.  But I'm pleased that it took exactly 17.

I know how thrilled my mother-in-law would have been to see this book dedicated to her beloved dad (along with the son she named after him).  Just the fact that I finished today, of all days, feels like a sign that she's had a hand in the whole thing.  So thanks, Mom.  And Happy Birthday!  XO


  1. So exciting and so wonderful that the book is dedicated to your mother-in-law's dad!! I can't WAIT to read it!

    1. This whole process has been a joy. When I was first approached, I never thought I'd have the time to do it--not with the kind of summer and fall we had planned (weddings! travels! new babies!). I almost said no. But I didn't, and somehow, it got done. And I really like the story--it's very sweet. It's based on some true events that happened, but otherwise it's 100% fictional. (I told my man that I briefly considered giving one of the love interests a big gap between his front teeth, and that could be my "trademark"; but then I decided that no one in this book would have even a passing resemblance to anyone I know in real life.) It's been fun...but I am so relieved to be finished!

    2. Oh yeah, along with the weddings, travels, and babies, let's throw neck surgery in there! LOL!

  2. So proud!!! Grandma is shining down very happy, reunited with her dad!!! Love you and can't wait to read this book!

  3. So, so EXCITING!!!!!!!
    What a beautiful dedication and can't wait to read it:)

  4. Oh, what exciting news!!! Congratulations!!

    (and you've apparently been blessed with as saintly and dear a mother in law as I was with mine!)

  5. Wonderful! I am looking forward to reading your new book.