Today, I thought I'd talk a little bit about my second novel, Erin's Ring.
Bezalel Books. Part historical fiction, the story includes some fascinating information about the Irish immigrants who came to Dover, NH in the early 19th century, worked their fingers to the bone in the Cocheco cotton mill, and wouldn't rest until they were able to build the first Catholic church in the area. That wooden church completed in 1830, St. Aloysius, burned down in 1870; but in its place, on that same plot of land deeded by the mill to its Irish-Catholic workers, a larger brick edifice was constructed. This church, St. Mary's, still stands today and is in fact where my husband and I attend Mass every Sunday (when we're in Dover, and not off visiting members of our far-flung family).
I was very humbled and honored when I learned that Erin's Ring had received two book awards from the Catholic Press Association.
2nd Place Catholic Press Awards 2015 Winner Category: Books for Teens and Young Adults
"Presented in a story-within-a-story, Erin's Ring offers an historical novel set within the story of two contemporary teen-age friends from very different kinds of families. Both stories have elements of Catholicism offered as ordinary and important parts of life. The small town setting is appealing and the characters are multi-dimensional. Erin's Ring would appeal to younger teens and older ones looking for light reading."
3rd Place Catholic Press Awards 2015 Winner Category: Catholic Novels
"This is a charming story, beginning with a charming cover and with a good measure of history, contemporary drama, and spirituality between the covers. It is highly readable and can be used effectively as an evangelization tool for young people who would otherwise never open a book that espoused Catholic morals and teachings. Adults, particularly of the Celtic persuasion will enjoy this lighthearted yet meaningful tale as well."
Last Sunday after Mass, I was thinking about Erin's Ring as I stopped in front of the garden located just to the right of the front entrance of St. Mary's Church in Dover. This sweet garden dedicated to the Blessed Mother was actually the inspiration for the opening scene of the novel. I thought it was the perfect place for young Molly McCormick to find an old Irish Claddagh ring, buried in the dirt at the foot of the statue, which would in turn compel her to research the history of the Irish in Dover, hoping to figure out the origins of the ring.
Here's a picture of the St. Mary's garden, a spot I've always loved.
Before she could finish storming the heavens with her heartfelt petition, a sudden cool, apple-crisp October breeze blew, and Molly's white lace chapel veil was lifted into the air and landed at the feet of the statue of Mary. That's what she got for forgetting to fasten it into place with bobby pins! As she bent to retrieve her veil she noticed a tiny gleam of gold peeking through the dark topsoil in which the mums were planted. She dug around it with her fingers and pulled the metal object out. Just as she got to her feet again, her family was suddenly there beside her. Her mother forgot all about asking her why she hadn't gone in to find a pew yet, for she saw the look of wonder on her daughter's face as she stared at something she was holding in her upturned palm.
"What is it, Molly?" asked Ellie.
"It's...a ring. A gold ring! I think it's pretty old. It's got a crack in it. Look."
"Oh, it's an Irish Claddagh ring! How lovely." [Ellie said]...
"And it's engraved!" Molly cried, squinting as she read "To Erin--Love, Michael" there as plain as day on the smooth inside of the band...
Who were Erin and Michael?
And what story might this ring tell, if only it could talk?
I hope this makes you insatiably curious to know who Erin and Michael were, too, if you haven't read the book yet.
If you haven't and you'd like to, today might be your lucky day. I'm hosting a giveaway here at String of Pearls, and giving away five copies of Erin's Ring.
I believe that Erin's Ring would make a great addition to a homeschool or Catholic school reading/religion/history curriculum. I would love to see it in the hands of more YA readers of all ages, and I greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word. Thank you!