I’m a “retired” Navy wife who lives in northern California with her family. I’m a noted genealogist on some of the more obscure corners of the Internet and today’s story, “The Dogtrot Christmas,” from A Log Cabin Christmas Collection is based on my family history.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
As a child I always loved the writing assignments, but it really has more to do with my love of stories. Like many children, cuddled close to a parent and hearing a story transfixed my imagination and gave me insight to a different time and place. I love that power of story and am thrilled God gave me the ability to both tell and write stories that can move people.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
I’m fascinated by the “whys” of life—why events happen. I’m also interested in “the rest of the story,” how people live through a harrowing experience and then get up the next morning to continue living their lives. In The Dogtrot Christmas, we’ve got Luis returning home from a grueling two years wanting nothing more than to live in peace, only to find his dreams dashed by Anglos who have moved onto his property.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
I’m an uber-responsible individual whose husband worked tremendous hours in the Navy. I had trouble finding time to write when my four children needed me, particularly with all our moves. I didn’t really get serious about writing in a dedicated way until my husband retired and our youngest child was in school.
Has writing changed your life in any way?
Yes. It’s helped me, personally, be more disciplined but also exposed me to the wonderful world of writer friends. I’ve met so many fascinating, helpful and encouraging people! I love the stories I find in my research and I’ve traveled to some of the locales. It fits me, my interest and personality, very well.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
God used Job 2:10 at a difficult time in my life to challenge me on what I believe about him. It reads as follows: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
This taught me the purpose of my life is to glorify God, not to be happy or to only “get” good things from him. I believe the Lord brings events into my life for HIS purposes and my responsibility is to trust him and move forward.
The passage changed the Point Of View (POV in writer language) from mine to God’s—which is a much healthier place from which to view life and circumstances.
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
I adore Carlos Eire’s Waiting for Snow in Havana—which is a memoir. He tells a fantastical story of growing up in pre-Castro Havana, with a chorus of unusual characters behaving in memorable fashion. His words are exquisitely Latin, and paint colorful pictures that made me laugh—when I wasn’t crying. A glorious book from a very fine writer.
What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
The list is endless . . . How about this video I made to explain what a dogtrot cabin is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6LNPHFNPq0
Please tell us about the featured book.
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“The Dogtrot Christmas” from A Log Cabin Christmas Collection (Barbour, September 2011)
When a conscripted war-weary Tejano returns to the family ranchero in 1836 Texas, he is enraged to discover an Anglo couple has built a dogtrot cabin on his very land. Luis carries many disappointments and horrors but is captivated by Molly Faires’ devotion to her widowed brother and toddler nephew. His past, though, finally finds reconcilliation by the listening ear and forgiving heart of his old tutor, Rev. Thomas Hanks. Christmas provides Luis and Molly and opportunity to find the unity under the roof of Jesus Christ’s posada story.
A Log Cabin Christmas appeared on the October 2, 2011 New York Times best seller’s list.
You can read more about the writing and research for this book, at its own page here: http://michelleule.com/books/the-dogtrot-christmas-outtakes-and-research-details/
Can you please give us the first page?
The Dogtrot Christmas
East Texas, June 1836
Balanced on top of the sticky pine cabin wall, Molly Faires clung to the end of the log roof beam while Jamie fought to place it.
“Easy now. I think I’ve got it. Get down and out of the way.” Jamie didn’t take his eyes off the log as Molly scrambled down the unchinked walls to the ground.
Molly tucked a strand of blonde hair back into her sunbonnet as she watched her brother wrestle the log toward the notches.
“Is it lined up?” he called.
“Almost there.” She held her breath. This was the first one. If the two of them could set the beams, they wouldn’t need to bother the neighbors for more help. Once they got the beams secure, Jamie could build a single roof covering the two small cabins and the breezeway in between: a “dogtrot” cabin.
When his straw hat blew off in the direction of the flourishing vegetable patch, Jamie stayed on focus, inching the heavy log into place. But then a swallow flit too close; he jerked and lost his hold. “It’s going. Watch out!”
Molly sprinted a dozen yards north to where she’d tied the young’un Andy to a loblolly pine stump already trying to sprout again.
The log shuddered down the side of the western cabin wall, landed on end and fell forward with a mighty thud into the stump-studded yard. Belle, the yellow dog who had followed them all the way from Tennessee, hightailed it to the woods.