Join the Launch Team for A Dance in Donegal!

Calling all book-lovers! Love Ireland? Even better!

I’m looking for enthusiastic readers to help get the word out about the release of my debut novel, A Dance in Donegal.

Here are the deets about the book itself:

A Dance in Donegal is a Christian historical romance novel set in Ireland in 1921. It releases from Revell Publishers on February 2, 2021.

What the book is about:

All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her Irish mother’s descriptions of her homeland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira accepts the challenge to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, the homeland village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence, but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends—and the strength of an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced. While Moira learns to trust Sean and his intentions, she struggles to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

I am so very humbled and excited about the release of this book! And I need your help! If you’re interested in applying for the launch team, keep reading for what would be expected of you, what you can expect, and the link to apply!

What would be expected of you if you’re accepted?

  1. Follow Jennifer Deibel on at least 2 social media accounts
  2. Read the book and leave an honest review on at least 2 major retail websites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook, etc.)
  3. In addition to the two items above, you agree to doing at least SIX of the following action items between January and February 15:
    • Add A Dance in Donegal to your GoodReads.com to-read list
    • Review on GoodReads.com
    • Feature A Dance in Donegal on your blog/website/podcast (this could be a review, an author interview, character interview, etc.)
    • Post a photo of A Dance in Donegal on social media (in a bookstore, of you reading it, at a coffee shop, with your dog/kids, etc.)
    • Ask your local public library to order A Dance in Donegal
    • Buy a copy of the book for a friend
    • Share various memes on social media (memes you make, or share the memes/share squares I will provide)
    • Suggest it as a pick for your book club

What can you expect if accepted?

Launch team members will receive a free copy of the book, and the opportunity to join a private Facebook group with exclusive giveaways.

Spots on the team are limited, and this application will only be open for 1 week! So, if you are interested, click the link below to fill out the application!

Cover Reveal!

Hello my dear reader friends! I am so sorry it has been so long since you’ve heard from me in this space. I have been most active over on my Instagram account. So, if you want to hear more from me, make sure you’re following me there!

But, I had to dust off ye olde blog to share some crazy exciting news with you–the cover to my debut novel, A Dance in Donegal!

But first, here’s a little bit about the book:

All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her Irish mother’s descriptions of her homeland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira accepts the challenge to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, the homeland village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence, but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do.Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends—and the strength of an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced. While Moira learns to trust Sean and his intentions, she struggles to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

I cannot believe what a phenomenal job the design team at Revell did with this cover. They took my ideas and ran with them, and came up with something better than I could have envisioned. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Without further ado, I present to you the cover of A Dance in Donegal:

A Dance in Donegal releases February 2, but is available for pre-order now! Don’t miss out! When you pre-order, your book ships as soon as it’s available, and in some cases you get it even before release date!

Preorder at any of these places:

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/0800738411

Baker Book Househttps://bakerbookhouse.com/products/235823

Books-a-Millionhttps://www.booksamillion.com/p/Dance-Donegal/Jennifer-Deibel/9780800738419?id=7932129264040&_ga=2.52288044.465696534.1593212930-125113959.1593212930#

IndieBoundhttps://www.indiebound.org/book/9780800738419

More ordering sites to come!

And if a new book isn’t in your budget right now, ask your library to order it! 🙂

I can’t wait for you to journey to the wilds of Donegal with Moira and the gang!

Christmas in America (or How Silent Night Makes me Cry)

You know, it’s funny, this expat life. So much time spent longing for things and people in far off places. And never is that longing so palpable than Christmastime.

When overseas, the heart yearns for family, familiarity and the Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor-esque light displays. You go to great lengths (and financial cost) to procure the specialty import items – like canned pumpkin and chocolate chips – to make the holidays feel more like home.

When in America, the heart and mind swim in aching memory of Viennese Christmas Markets or the quaint-but-charming afternoon spent at the rural Irish Christmas fair complete with Paddy-the-builder playing Santa and enough cups of tea to drown the Pope. You go to great lengths (and financial cost) to procure the specialty import items – like authentic Christmas crackers or that perfect Gulaschsuppe – to make the holidays feel more like home.

Christmas in America

I have decided that Christmas (much like the expat life in general) will simply be a season spent in a constant state of tension. That tenuous balance between remembering the places and people who have so deeply touched your life and growth, and “blooming where you’re planted” and being fully present in whichever home you find yourself this year. I also completely understand that this tension is not limited to the expat lifestyle. But the expat life is what I know; I also remember LPE (Life Pre-Expat) and there is a distinct difference.

Anyway.

One song, for some reason, seems to buoy this tension, this ache, to the surface faster and more often than others. You might guess it to be something that conjures the concept of home like I’ll be Home for Christmas or Home for the Holidays, but no. While those songs stir a sense of nostalgia and longing in their own right, they don’t move the core of my soul.

Only one song does that. Only one carol awakens a deeper part of me that seems lulled during the rest of the year.

Silent Night.

Every time. Every language.

I distinctly remember the very first time I heard Silent Night in Irish Gaelic. It was absolutely mesmerizing. I also remember the year the community choir of which I was a member sang it at a special Christmas program. I stood there in the front row, tears running down my face, unable to sing a single note. The beauty and magnitude of the lyrics had so touched my heart, I was rendered speechless.

I also remember sitting in an overcrowded school auditorium. My precious girls stood among the throng of students, shifting and shuffling in anticipation. Then they began to sing, Stille Nacht – Silent Night in it’s original German. Once again, tears poured, heart pounded and my soul churned deep within me.

Last week, standing in church, the notes began and we all sang together the words of this beloved Christmas Carol. Instantly images flooded my mind. Images of my father-in-law sharing about the history of the song, of my beloved Ireland and the faces from our village singing by candlelight, of the children and teachers we hold so dear lifting their voices in recognition of this holiest of nights when our Savior came into this world. And the tears flowed. It was very nearly body-shaking sobs but I willed the tears to come alone.

Those memories moved me, to be sure. But it goes far deeper than that. You see, with each language in which I hear and understand the lyrics to this song, I gain a deeper, fuller understanding of the gospel. A fuller grasp on just how incredible, how incomprehensible it was that the holy, perfect, Creator of the universe would humble himself so much that he would become a human baby – the most helpless and dependent of creatures.

Just look at the second verse of Silent Night in Irish:

Oíche chiúin,
(quiet night)
Oíche Mhic Dé,
(night of God’s Son)
Aoirí ar dtús chuala ‘n scéal. (Shepherds were the first to hear the story)
Allelúia aingeal ag glaoch. (Angels calling “Alleluia)
Cantain suairc i ngar is i gcéin. (Giving joy near and far)
Críost ar Slánaitheoir Féin. (Christ, our own Savior)
Críost ar Slánaitheoir Féin. (Christ, our own Savior)

It was the last line that sent my heart reeling. To stand there and listen to a hundred people proclaiming Christ as savior, in their heart language, was almost more than I could take in, so great was the beauty of it. The translation I have given of those last two lines doesn’t fully do it’s meaning justice.

It is not just declaring Christ as the savior. It is written in a way that denotes personal possession. It brings an element of intimacy and relationship to the lyrics in a way I hadn’t grasped before.

And isn’t that what our God is? Intimate. Relational.

I may never stop crying when I hear this song, no matter the language – and I pray that I don’t. Because it means there are signs of life in my soul.

We were made to worship, we were created for longing, for beauty, for relationship. And Silent Night reminds my spirit that the only One in which to place those longings without fear of disappointment is this God who took on flesh. He was born, that He might die, that I might live.

This expat life sure brings with it a whole host of random and awkward experiences. But it sure has brought with it something far sweeter – a greater understanding of and closer relationship with Jesus than I could have ever hoped. And I pray it continues to grow sweeter still.

 

What stirs your soul?

If You Came to My Village

Photo by Deibel Photography

Photo by Deibel Photography

If you came to my wee village in the west of Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day, it might look a little bit different than you expect. It might be more subdued. There might be less green. There certainly wouldn’t be any pinching. But it would no doubt be an experience that you would take with you and think of fondly for the rest of your life. You might even say it was magical.

If you came to my village for Paddy’s Day

– You’d come to our parade. You’d see a street lined with families and the air filled with laughter. You’d see the tri-color everywhere, with people wearing the three colors of the flag more than just green. You’d see floats made with tissue paper and poster-board.  You’d hear tin-whistle tunes from the children. You’d see political satire and comedic drama. You’d definitely hear some traditional music.

Photo by Deibel Photography

Photo by Deibel Photography

– You’d hear about folk “drowning their shamrock,” wearing a bunch of clover on their lapel and it wilts in the heat of the musky pub air.

-You’d laugh ’til your sides ached, even if you didn’t fully understand why. But the joy of celebration and lilting Irish spirit is contagious and when they laugh you can’t help but join, and when they sing you’d be hard pressed not to cry.

If you came to my village for Paddy’s Day

– You’d eat a 99 cone if the weather was nice.

– You’d not hear When Irish Eyes Are Smiling once, but quickly tire of The Fields of Athenry and Galway Girl.

– You’d drink tea with a friend round their generous table and perhaps take a stroll on the beach.

– You’d huddle around the bonfire as the sun went down drinking in the atmosphere, imbibing in the Irish strength of spirit and reveling in the craic.

Photo by Deibel Photography

Photo by Deibel Photography

And finally, if you came to my village for Paddy’s Day you’d be grieved to leave her behind. And every year hence you’d remember the day you spent in “my” land, among my friends family. And never cease to speak of the day when an Irish breeze kissed your face, and her people stole your heart.

I’ve linked this post up with The Better Mom, Women Living Well

 

 

 

 

So You Want To Learn Irish? {GIVEAWAY}

****ENTRIES NOW CLOSED****

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CONGRATS TO OUR WINNER, COMMENTER #3: CRYSTAL B.!!

Whenever I post here or on Facebook about how we live our everyday lives through the medium of the Irish language, I always get loads of response. There’s a massive connection and draw for Americans to all things Irish. And the Irish language is no different. For some, they have no idea a language other than English is spoken here.

However, if you’ve ever listened to an Enya album, you’ve heard it and probably didn’t even realize it! (As a teenager I thought it was Latin! Ha!) Irish shows up in film after Hollywood film. In fact, there are some phrases in Irish uttered from the fox in Mary Poppins!

Granted, it is not the everyday language everywhere in the country. There are pockets around the country that are a bit like language reservations. It’s in these areas that Irish is the first language of most, with many children speaking little to no English before entering school.

We have invested a total of six years so far learning this beautiful language and we absolutely love it. Our kiddos are completely fluent, and we are fairly so. And I absolutely love introducing people to this lyrical, beautiful language.

So, imagine my excitement when I heard about an online company called Bitesize Irish Gaelic! They do online Irish lessons, with real, native speakers! How cool is that??

What’s more, they realize not everyone is in a place to sign up for a monthly subscription of lessons, so they have decided to create an album- “Learn Irish With Eoin” – that will teach you Irish to the point where you can hold a basic conversation. The album, which explains the concept to you in English, is created by Eoin (pronounced like Owen) who is a native Irish speaker and is fluent in the Irish (Gaelic) language.


The album is just over 16 hours long and includes lessons such as: learn-irish-with-eoin_3d-cd

  • Greetings and Introductions
  • Your First Conversation
  • Counting From 1 to 10
  • Greeting an Acquaintance
  • Countries and Nationalities


What I love about this album idea is that you can do the lessons when it suits you, where it suits you! The album is available on iTunes and is download-only which means you can listen to it absolutely anywhere.

Now the really exciting part!!

Bitesize Irish Gaelic have given me a copy of the album to giveaway to one of you awesome readers!! So if you’re interested in learning your ancestors’ native tongue, or just want to learn the beautiful Irish (Gaelic) language, be sure to enter!

Simply leave a comment below telling me what you would most love to learn in/about the Irish language!

You can earn more entries by sharing this giveaway on Twitter and Facebook. You will get one entry for each share (once for Twitter, once for Facebook). Be sure to come back and leave separate comments letting me know how you shared!

Entries will remain open until midnight EST, Tuesday, January 8.

A Wee Bit O’ Irish {GIVEAWAY!!} (updated)

***GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED***

Congrats to our winners: Donna and Joyce! I have emailed you. 🙂

Living in rural Ireland, as you might imagine, can be just as idyllic as is sounds. Lush green hills, rugged coastline, lilting voices, vibrant music.

The area in which we live is a hotbed for culture, language and arts. Music, creativity, and arts of all genre – music, dance, painting, knitting, pottery, weaving, word crafting, and more – is highly valued. And celebrated. This area is renowned nation, and world, wide for it’s festivals, concerts and artsy vibe.

You’ve heard me talk many times about how much of our life happens over cups of tea and coffee; in a place where personal relationships still hold precedence over accomplishing tasks. And you’ve heard me mention numerous times about our favorite little cafe which we frequent.

What you might not know is that that amazing little cafe is located in the back of an entire craft village! This village houses several artisans all creating and selling their wares. One of our favorite shops, and one of the favorites of those who come to visit us, is An Spailpín Fánach (translates to The Migrant Worker).

This shop started selling badges (lapel pins) 30+ years ago. They traveled around in their caravan selling these Irish-Language badges at festivals, concerts and summer language camps. Over the years they have expanded their inventory to home decor, t-shirts, cards, stickers, etc.

Tourists love this shop because they can take home a piece of the culture – and language – to stump show their friends. He he. Locals love this shop because they can give gifts that reflect their heart language, and support local business.

Well, An Spailpín Fánach has just launched their new website and its worldwide! That means that you can now get a piece of their awesomeness without the expense of a transatlantic ticket! I mean, just look at some of these gorgeous items:

How gorgeous are these throw cushion covers?

Celtic Spiral cushion covers

Celtic Spiral cushion covers

You can also get some great Irish music!

Rosin Elsafty - a truly silky smooth voice carrying lilting tunes. Oh, and I know her. She's full of awesome.

Rosin Elsafty – a truly silky smooth voice carrying lilting tunes. Oh, and I know her. She’s full of awesome.

There’s much, much more on their site. You simply must go check them out! One thing I love is that they are the only Irish-language merchandise shop online that is fully bi-lingual! That’s right, you can experience their site in full Irish, or English! Seriously. It’s rad.

Now, the very best part! An Spailpín Fánach has generously donated two t-shirts for two of our awesome readers to win!! We have one of these:

Irish Place-name T-shirt

Irish Place-name T-shirt

This regular-fit tee has place names of Irish cities and towns in Irish, in the shape of a map of Ireland! We have one of these in this lovely moss green color, size XL to giveaway!

And we have one of these:

"Miss Happy" fitted tee

“Miss Happy” fitted tee

This adorable teal fitted tee donning “Ms. Sona Sasta” (Ms. Happy) in teal. We have one of these in size L to give away!

There are many ways to enter:

* MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit An Spailpín Fánach online. Leave a comment telling me which item from their website you like the most.
* Easy entry for all An Spailpín Fánach fans on Facebook!
* Easy entry for all This Gal’s Journey fans on Facebook!
* Follow me on Twitter.
* Subscribe to This Gal’s Journey via email or RSS.
* Tweet about this giveaway (do this once a day!) You can copy and paste this into your tweet: Win a wee bit o’ Irish loot from @thisgalsjourney ! 
* Share this giveaway on Facebook/Pintrest/Your blog.

Simply leave a separate comment for each entry you complete. Be sure to leave me your email address in your comments (you can write your email in this format: name at hotmail dot com). I will then use a random number generator to pick the two winners!

Entries close at midnight EST, Tuesday, December 11.

Open to US/CAN residents only.
Good luck, and have fun gettin’ your Irish on!

I’ve linked this post up with The Better Mom, Time Warp Wife

Irish Lesson of the Week

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The view down the street in front of our house

A lot of people are really intrigued by the fact that we live in an Irish-speaking area. Yes, that’s right, Ireland has it’s own language! In fact, Ireland has 2 official, national languages: English and Irish (aka Gaelic). Many people are surprised to learn that our kiddos’ school is completely taught through Irish. Not as some hip, cultural thing to do, but because Irish is the first language of the majority of people in our area! So, after nearly 4 years here, our girls are age-level fluent in the language. Hubs and I are quite conversational, but we are always looking to improve our ability!

So, because there seems to be such interest in the language, I thought I might share a phrase in Irish every now and then, along with a guide for how it is pronounced in our dialect! Inspired by the surprisingly beautiful weather that showed up this afternoon after a dismal start to the day I thought our first phrase would be:

Tá an lá go hálainn!

[TAW uhn LAW guh HAH-linn]

“It’s a gorgeous day!!”


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The view up the street in front of our house.