Yes, the winner of a signed copy of Erin's Ring is named Erin. That. Just. Happened.
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.
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.
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!)