Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Giveaway Winner (and Claddaghs on the Brain)!

Okay, as promised, I'm announcing the winner of the giveaway here at String of Pearls this morning.  When you hear who it is, you're going to think the contest was fixed, but I give you my word of honor that I chose the winning slip of paper with my eyes closed (and a prayer that I would choose the person who needed the book the most).  The winner is my Aussie blogging friend Erin, from Seven Little Australians and Counting.

Yes, the winner of a signed copy of Erin's Ring is named Erin.  That.  Just.  Happened.
Actually, I think Erin is the perfect choice, not just because of the book's title.  I'm also tickled that she won because she told me that so far, Erin's Ring is not easily available in the Land Down Under.  (For those of you who might have tried to order it on Amazon in the US and saw "temporarily out of stock" on the order form, I don't think it will take too long to receive your copy.  I have already been told by two friends that the books they ordered on-line have arrived.)

So that's one reason I'm glad the slip of paper I pulled out of the hat had Erin's name on it.  The other is that she is a homeschooling mother of ten (you read that right, TEN), and I've seen photos of her impressive home library on her blog.  I know this book will find a good home with her, and it will have a chance to be read by many young eager readers.

So Erin, I'll get that copy out to you as soon as I can.  (I'm going to have to look through my archives for your address--unless you want to just send it to me again.)

If you didn't win this contest, readers, there are three other signed copies out there, just waiting to be sent out to three lucky winners.  I'm hosting a giveaway at Goodreads--and if you enter before midnight on December 15, one of those winners could be you.

Aside from the Goodreads giveaway, my publisher Cheryl Dickow has a special Christmas offer going on: a "Mother-Daughter Package," available over at Bezalel Books (Erin's Ring and Cheryl's Elizabeth, a Holy Land Pilgrimmage, $17.99 with free shipping).  Award-winning author Nancy Carabio Belanger blogged about Erin's Ring and this amazing Bezalel offer here.  And if you'd like to order that set, click here.

I've kind of had Claddaghs on the brain lately.  I've always loved the look of Irish Claddagh rings and the symbolism behind the hands, crown, and heart: Friendship, Loyalty, Love.  I fell in love with this sort of meaningful Irish ring back in the spring of 1979, when I was a junior in college and my then-boyfriend brought me a gold one from Dublin, where he'd gone on a trip with the Notre Dame rugby team.  We'd been dating since the summer of 1973, and this was the first serious piece of jewelry he'd ever given me.  I put it on the ring finger of my left hand and couldn't stop looking at it!
This is the original box.  Over the past 35 years, the ring has developed several
cracks that I had to have fixed; but otherwise, it's the original as well.
My Claddagh was not technically an engagement ring, but it could have been--because at that point, we were sure we were going to get married after college.  (We were officially engaged--although without another ring--the following December, during our senior year, and then got married one year after that.)

I do love Claddaghs, and when the story for Erin's Ring started to form in my head, one of the first things I decided was that my young heroine would find an old-looking gold Claddagh ring poking up out of the dirt in a garden next to her parish church, right in front of a statue of Mary.  She would become intrigued by it, convinced by the engraving inside the band--"To Erin--Love, Michael"--that this ring must have an epic, romantic story to tell.  Erin's ring would in turn inspire her to explore the archives of the public library for clues, and in the process she and her best friend would learn all about the Irish immigrants who played a huge role in their small New Hampshire town's history.  (The story is set in Dover, NH, and there is a lot of true Dover history in this book.)  I wasn't even sure at first why the ring had ended up in the garden or how tragic I wanted its owner's story to be; but I let the characters lead me and eventually, it all came together.  In the last few pages, the mystery is solved...but I'm not going to tell you any more--you'll just have to read it!

Since finishing this novel, I seem to be obsessed with the Claddagh image.  Just recently, I typed the word "Claddagh" in a search box on the Etsy home page (a dangerous place to go, I assure you!), and I found this beauty.  It's a wall cross made out of balsa wood.  Look at that intricate scrollwork!  For $15, I thought it was a steal.
And it looks great on my wall of wedding pictures (a wall that's getting mighty crowded these days, now that four of our five boys are married!).
Well, I hope if you read Erin's Ring, you'll have Claddaghs on the brain, too!  (And don't forget about that Goodreads giveaway!)


  1. I've had Claddaghs on my mind for years already, since a friend visited me from her home in Ireland in 1975 (she was wearing one). That was my own introduction to the beautiful Claddagh. Now I look for MORE 'on-the-mindedness' after I read Erin's Ring! Which I hope to dig into right after Christmas, when all is calm and I can settle in for a cozy winter's read :).

    And congratulations to Erin....... how perfect is THAT win?!?!?!!!

    1. I agree! I thought it was so apropos that Erin would win this book!

  2. Oh Wow!! Really!!!!! So excited! and laughing in happiness, how did that happen!!:):):)
    emailing you my address. feel so bad though as you have all that postage to Australia.
    My boyfriend gave me a ring, we called it a friendship ring:) Probably out of fashion by then but we loved it:)

    1. I'll have that book in the mail ASAP!

      When it comes to giveaways here at this blog, you truly do have the luck of the Irish!