Monday, October 12, 2015

Visiting with the DAR, at the Dover Public Library

On Saturday morning, I had the rare privilege of being a guest speaker at a meeting of two local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (the Margery Sullivan Chapter, and their guests from the Mary Torr Chapter).  The event was held at the Dover Public Library--which I told these wonderful ladies was absolutely the perfect venue to talk about Erin's Ring, as it is essentially a supporting character in the story.  The library is where Molly and Theresa become friends, and where they meet up every weekend to delve into the historical archives in search of some clues that will help them solve the mystery of Erin's ring (that is, the old Irish Claddagh ring that Molly finds in the garden outside her parish church, with "To Erin--Love, Michael" engraved inside the band).

I also told them that the book opens on a Saturday morning in October...and here it was, a Saturday morning in October!  The stars appeared to have aligned, in other ways, too; but I'll tell you more about that in a minute.

My husband (who is and always will be my favorite human, my best friend, and my most loyal supporter) came with me and helped me set up my things in a large conference room upstairs, just across the hall from the library's Historical Room (another important side character in Erin's Ring!).  When we got there, some of the ladies were already bustling about, getting everything ready.
While they put out doughnuts, pastries, and coffee and set up their head table and podium in preparation for their meeting, I worked on my area--a display table and a book signing table.
When I was finished, I sat at my table, smiling on the outside while dying a little bit on the inside.  My husband, who was in the back of the room silently cheering me on, took this photo.
I call this photo "Smiling Bravely on the Outside, but Freaking Out on the Inside!"  Well, I guess freaking out is a tad dramatic; I was nervous, though, because I wasn't sure how this was going to go.  The only times I've spoken about my books to an audience (at my niece's Catholic grade school last May, and several times on Catholic radio), it has been done through Q and A.  But what if these sweet ladies thought I was just going to get up and give an actual speech?  I hadn't prepared anything from which to read.

The meeting got underway, following a pattern that any DAR member would recognize, I'm sure.  It included an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and something called "The American's Creed," which I'd never heard before.  I just have to share this with you, in case it's something you've never heard either.

The American's Creed

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
(Written  by William Tyler Page in 1917,
accepted by the United States House of Representatives on April 3, 1918)

In an age when so many Americans act ashamed of their great nation and its history, I found the DAR's love of country so very touching.  (Also, as the wife of a veteran, with sons who have served and are still serving, I was moved by the way the DAR respects and honors the US military.)

After all the opening ceremonies, I was on.  I stood up and started talking, and after a somewhat shaky start began to feel surprisingly at ease.  This was an exceedingly receptive and kind-hearted crowd, and after just going off-the-cuff for a bit, I asked if there were any questions--and that helped me to keep from going off on too many tangents.  (As shy as I am, I seem to be able to talk at length about my books--my babies!-- and the whole writing has caused my husband to wonder, more than once, "Who is she, and what has she done with my wife?")
When I was finished talking, The Margery Sullivan Chapter of the DAR surprised me with a Women in the Arts Recognition award.  That was the last thing I was expecting when they contacted me many months ago about this speaking engagement.
One of the ladies told my husband that my name will go on
to the state level now; and if I win there, on to the national.
They also surprised me with a sweet gift, a pewter Christmas ornament.
A Teddy bear dad reading to his kids--adorable!
There was one woman in attendance who'd come from MA to be there, and I was tickled to learn that she was a descendent of Irish immigrants.  She had two elderly uncles who'd regaled her with stories of what it had been like to be a young Irishman in Dover, back in the days when the Irish were one of the most discriminated against groups in America.  I felt so fortunate to meet this woman, and she thought that it was interesting that Erin's Ring told what the immigrant experience was like from the women's point of view, when she'd only heard about the ways the men had struggled to overcome prejudice and hardship.  We were both so glad she'd made the trip to NH to be there that day.

Another interesting thing happened at the meeting.  (I told you the stars seemed to have aligned, right?)  To be accepted as a member of the DAR, a woman must apply and have official documents that prove her direct lineage to someone who fought in the Revolution or had some sort of supporting role in the conflict.  And one of the women there had been accepted because of a relative named John PEARL.  Isn't that a crazy coincidence?  But even if my husband could prove he was also a descendent of this man, I couldn't become a DAR member; you can't do it via marriage, you have to have a direct blood line.

I found this organization so fascinating and its members so admirable, and I will always be extremely grateful that they allowed me to come and spend some time with them.  And as a bonus, there were three young people there, a boy and two girls, grandchildren of the chapter's regent.  They were junior high students, just the right age to read Erin's Ring.  And they were so delightful!  One of the girls said something along the lines of, "I've never met an author before.  This is exciting for me."  And I told her, "Getting to meet someone who's reading my book is exciting for ME.  It's an honor." 
I'm feeling very blessed right now, on so many levels--especially, though, because I have the best "wing man" a shy public speaker could ever ask for.  Maybe my favorite part of the whole experience was watching my sweet husband interacting with the DAR women.
I've got only a smidgeon of Irish blood; my mom is part-Irish, with the maiden name Kelly, but I'm very much a mutt.  My husband's people, on the other hand, all come from the Emerald Isle.  But I certainly had the luck of the Irish when I married him, I'll tell you.

Thank you so much to the Margery Sullivan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for your warm welcome, your kindness and support, and your love of history--including the Dover history I wrote about in Erin's Ring.  (And I'm especially glad now that the book had some brief mentions of two Revolutionary War heroes in it: Gen. John Stark and Gen. Lafayette!)  I was truly honored to be your guest, and I won't soon forget my time with you.

(Now before I go, just a reminder: leave me a comment by Oct. 31, and you could win a free signed copy of Erin's Ring.)


  1. This is awesome! You are so brave to go in front of people and present your work, haha. I don't know if I could do that. ;-) Thank you for sharing!

    1. It's always going to be hard for me to do stuff like this. (Luckily, I really don't have to very often!) As the date for this approached, I kept wishing I could get out of it. But it really was a great experience. People are so kind--you included. :)

  2. I meant to ask you about this yesterday!! So happy to hear that it went so well!

    1. It was really fun, actually. I don't have any idea what I said while I was up there--it's a blur. But Dad said I did great (and he's not at all biased, as you know). <3

  3. So happy to see that it went so well, and you look radiant!

  4. So glad it went well. I always wanted to be in the DAR but I SO wouldn't qualify. My paternal grandparents emigrated right after WWII and my mother is adopted so that whole bloodline thing wouldn't go far. :)

    1. I think I'd love to be in their ranks, too. I really admire those DAR ladies--they are such a family-oriented group, with such a deep and genuine love of our country and its history.