This Wednesday I'm happy to have Michelle Ule here to talk about her new novella, The Sunbonnet Bride which is part of Barbour's The 12 Brides of Summer Collection. The Sunbonnet Bride released as a $2.99 ebook-only, with two other stories, in Collection #1 on June 1, and will be part of the entire volume when it releases as an actual book in summer 2016.
Here's a snippet to wet your interests. :)
Bumbling teamster Malcolm MacDougall vies with suave banker Josiah Finch for the hand of the lively hat maker Sally Martin after a tornado touches down in the neighboring communities.
While Josiah sees an opportunity to make plenty of money to support a potential bride in style, Malcolm adds up the facts against his Bible and realizes helping those in need is more important than turning a profit.
When Sally’s hats become the stylish rage of southeastern Nebraska, will she choose a teamster or a banker for her life’s happiness?
I just finished this story and really enjoyed it. Here's what Michelle says about her new release:
What I like about The Sunbonnet Bride is that in addition to telling a short romance, it also examines what it means to run a business and the concept that it takes different types of people to accomplish God’s work in a community.
Josiah and Malcom have two different ways of meeting a need, equally valid, equally important—and yet one seems more “holy” than another. Is that legitimate? Fair?
They raise questions about the legitimacy of making a profit—and help Sally see what it really takes to run a business. I’ve had many friends who have started small businesses but watched them come to naught because some basic ideas about cash flow aren’t understood. I hoped to show how to avoid that problem in this 15,000 word novella.
The stories in The 12 Brides of Summer Collections are sequels to our ebook releases from December: The 12 Brides of Christmas which releases as a book in October, 2015. My story in that collection is The Yuletide Bride (which I love because it rhymes and is a pun!)
That sounds neat. Can you tell us some fun things about yourself, Michelle, like favorite animals, vacations, foods and any quirks you may have?
Not sure I have a favorite animal but I’ve used dogs and chickens quite effectively in several stories. :)
Quirks—I have a slap stick sense of humor that embarrassed me regularly.
Food—I drink a lot of water while I write and chew bubble gum.
Vacation—I love to travel and would happily go anywhere. I’m on vacation right now at a lake with my extended family; I’d pretty much go anywhere my extended family wanted to go.
I spent 2.5 weeks in Europe earlier this year doing some research at London’s Imperial War Museum, then visiting a missionary in Sicily and relatives in Slovenia. In between, we ate and listened to terrific music through Italy and Austria. I got a terrific idea for a story in Salzburg, which I’m thinking about right now.
On my bucket list—a day in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg; a month in Australia. I’d love to see Egypt, which played a part in a recent novel I wrote but probably won’t be able to go there. I’d also love to see South American and Antarctica—but my husband is refusing Antarctica. My astronomer son, though, is game to try! :)
I’ve written about some of my adventures as Traveler’s Tales on my website: www.michelleule.com. One of the most unusual, probably, was the wedding I attended in Transylvania . . .
LOL. Sounds like you've had some interesting trips. What do you enjoy doing on a day off?
I love to read and visit museums. I love to spend time in libraries and to travel. A perfect day off involves lying in bed and reading a terrific book until I have to get up. Spending time with family and friends, preferably involving good food, great books and travel—is the best day for me.
Stories, music and laughter—possibly with irony—is what I like best.
Tell us a little more about your love of story.
For me, love of story infuses every day. My husband often claims, "you don't care how bad things turn out as long as you get a good story out of it!"
I'm always framing an experience in "how can I tell others about this?" and it was quite a shock to me when my mom died suddenly. I hadn't realized how I spent the whole week laughing to myself, "mom is going to love this one," until she died and wasn't on the other end of the phone for the weekly call.
My college roommate used to settle on her bed after dinner each night with the request, "tell me a story about your day."
Which I did.
She laughed, "you get the whole gamut of life: characters, sub plots, intrigue and romance, all in one day at UCLA. Fascinating."
Another friend started off her Christmas card one year (!!!), "oh, if only had Michelle Ule's gift of story--she can even make laundry sound interesting."
So yes, love of story and stories themselves travel every day with me. It's a rich life.
:) Where do your story ideas come from?
I don’t have a problem coming up with story ideas—they seem to materialize through the air!
All of my Barbour publishing, however, has been the result of a prompt—I’ve had the title or the theme and written my proposal to that.
The novel I just finished—which is not yet contracted—came out of a request from an editor. The idea took hold and even when that publishing house went out of business, I continued with the story which I love. My next writing project is roughly linked to that one and I can’t discuss either one at the moment under orders from my agent.
History is replete with ideas. I’m often caught by an incident which strikes me as ironic or funny and follow it.
It sounds like you have a good idea you are working on. How did you get started in writing, publication and how long have you been writing?
Like many writers, my desire to write began early. I wrote my first “novel” at the age of 7. It was three pages long about a mystery at an amusement park. I was surprised the whole story could be told in only 3 pages and realized I needed to learn a little more—perhaps in second grade?
I always loved English classes and writing assignments and began writing short stories in high school. One of those stories won a national writing award and when it was time to choose a college major, I flipped a coin between English and History. It came up English and that’s what I earned my degree in at UCLA.
The most important thing I did in college, however, was when I realized I wasn’t writing enough for myself, was to get a job at the UCLA Daily Bruin—figuring a writing job would force me to put words on the page. I’d recommend a slot at a newspaper for anyone interested in writing. I learned how to write on deadline, think through what exactly the story was about and how to ask questions. An invaluable experience.
Once my children were mature enough they didn’t need me constantly, my father died after a lingering illness and my husband retired from the Navy, I had enough money and time to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, where I learned a great deal about the publication world. I’ve attended that conference half a dozen times now and think it is an invaluable opportunity to learn about the publishing industry.
While I was at Mt Hermon the first time, I got into conversation with the one other attendee who lived in my town. As it happened, she lived around the corner from me and about a year later I got a job as her editorial assistant. Her name is Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency and she is now my agent as well. :)
I’d worked for Janet for six years before an opportunity arose to write a proposal for a novella for Barbour publishing. Becky Germany liked my idea for , and I was award a contract to write that Christmas novella the very day my husband and I drove our last child to college.
When the nine-author collection, A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, released in fall 2011, the book made the New York Times best-seller’s list, a shocking surprise for a novice writer.
After that first collection, I’ve written for four more, along with a stand-alone Navy SEAL novel called Bridging Two Hearts, also published in conjunction with Barbour. A Pioneer Christmas Collection also was a best-selling Christmas novella collection, and will be released for an encore in September 2015.
I love the way God brought that together for you. Could you share with us a little bit about your faith?
I became a Christian while in high school thanks to the volleyball ministry run by a neighboring Lutheran Church. I’d been raised in a perfunctory church setting by a mother who told me to never discuss God at home—my father was hostile to the idea of God and the church. When I got involved with the local Lutheran Church, they presented Jesus in a way I’d never considered before and I was intrigued by the idea a book could provide a roadmap for how to live a life free from guilt.
Being able to confess sin and be forgiven is the heart of life and joy—thanks to the working of Jesus on the Cross.
I’ve walked with the Lord consistently through my life, spared by His grace, and that notion that we can know the Creator of the Universe—the God who spun the planets across the skies—is at the basis of my writing. I’ve taught Bible study and been a lay counselor my entire adult life and everything I write must have a spiritual truth.
My friend Lynn Vincent once commented there is no point in writing fiction unless it points back to God. I agree and all of my writing is infused with a notion that we worship of God of order, who takes us through interesting pathways for the sake of his glory—not our convenience.
While I’m known as an historical fiction writer, I’ve also written a number of unpublished contemporary novels which have a sense of forgiveness, recognizing God at work despite the circumstances and how to love God in a time of upheaval—whether physical, spiritual or emotional.
I’m interested in the how and why—how people survive challenges and come through them spiritually intact, as well as why they do the things they do—especially when they don’t understand themselves.
I cannot abide a novel I don’t learn something from and so I try hard to make sure my facts are correct and the experience of reading one of my projects provides a spiritual take away for the reader.
I understand wanting to share faith in your writing. Could you give a few pointers for writers?
I’ve worked as an editorial assistant since 2004. I’ve seen many changes in the publishing world. Here are a few pieces of advice:
Master the basics—know something about grammar, story construction, Word, and strong verbs. Read a lot across genres and learn about the industry itself.
Give yourself time—plenty of time. While society may love an immature writer with a terrific idea, most of the great writing comes out of experience. The publishing life takes a lot of time and patience is a virtue.
Don’t become discouraged if your first effort doesn’t win universal acclaim and a fat contract. Trust me, it takes time to establish who and what you are as a writer. You may be an excellent writer, but some of the saddest publishing situations I’ve seen are writers whose first book sells and then they have to come up with another one right away. The pressure is enormous.
Having a half-dozen projects completed is a good thing. You can then choose from what you’ve already completed when you have to come up with that second book! J
Plan on having everything edited—especially if you choose to self-publish. You really don’t want to put out work that hasn’t been edited.
Attend a writer’s conference, become a member of ACFW, don’t expect to publish overnight, find writer friends, read books on craft, and don’t give up your day job.
Thanks so much for taking time to be with us, Michelle. If you want to connect with Michelle Ule, you can find her here:
Next week Erica Vetsch will be visiting the Love of Story feature. You won't want to miss it. Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for the following.