Not so long ago I came across a remarkable author on Twitter. Luckily she was willing to join me on my blog and today I feature her and how it all came to be.
Let’s not delay ay further but let me introduce to you, Paula Rose Michelson, a true wordsmith.
Welcome Paula. I’m honoured to be able to host you and hope you’ll like me grilling you. But first tell us a bit about the woman behind the author, or the woman inside the author.
I am the founder of LAMB Ministries, which helps women recover from trauma and abuse through the effective use of scripture, and prayer. Besides that I lead a monthly writers group at Congregation Ben David in Orange, California, and together with my husband, Ron, serve with Chosen People Ministries.
We are the proud parents two married daughters, and grandparents of seven grandchildren. When not writing, speaking, or teaching the effective use scripture, you will find me researching my next book or meeting with friends.
That is a nice, short introduction which gives us a glimpse of who you are.
I do however have some questions for you, just to satisfy my curiosity and shed some light on your inner being.
When did you first get the idea of founding your own Ministry?
Good question! I didn’t know and had never thought about founding anything!
I had become a believer in Messiah while completing my training to become a Chemical Dependency/Lifestyle Disorder Councilor in a dually diagnosed psychiatric unit at Woodview Calabasas Psychiatric Hospital. On the very day, I was offered full time employment, my husband told me he’d been promoted and we were moving to the San Francisco bay area, which was nine hours from the San Fernando Valley.
We didn’t know a soul and since we agreed to let the family whose home we were buying rent back we were living in an apartment.
I met a lady who invited me to church. On that first Sunday a woman shared about her friend who was sober but fearful, a white knuckle alcoholic, and had been living like that for many years. I mentioned my background and the books that might help once I’d unpacked them. She asked for my phone number, which I gave. The same afternoon she called to tell me that she and her friend had prayed and felt I should meet with this woman. I agreed and within a month that one woman had become ten.
Though none of the others were in recovery for an addition, each one had the same issue, a fear that the trauma they experienced would continue to be repeated, if not by others, by them. Having dealt with my own stuff, and worked in the system, then discovering that God’s word is affective and will accomplish his purpose, I began teaching these women what I had learned.
When our friends who were missionaries on furlough from YWAM realized what God was doing, they asked me to contact our pastor. I met with him and was appointed the head of Women’s Lay Counseling. While in Freemont, CA, I interfaced with Stanford’s Chemical Dependency staff and worked for the Rubicon Center as a house parent for six teenage girls, which the state had removed from their homes because of abuse, drugs, child endangerment, and other issues to numerous to delineate.
Do you ever doubt?
When I am doing things in my own strength, I feel dread, not doubt, and that tells me that I am not listening to or reading Gods Word.
At the writers group do you write any genre?
The writers group I lead had to disband because our congregation moved to another location, and many programs were eliminated due to lack of space. However, while the group existed I encouraged each writer to follow their hearts leading.
What genre, besides scripture, do you like to read?
I love almost anything that would be classified as “P” or “PG” writing and doesn’t use a lot of swearing and gets to the point without taking Gods name in vain. Because my fiction, which many have labeled “Romance” requires a great deal of research, I’m a passionate reader of history, but love all well written books whether mysteries, historical, biographies … the list goes on and on!
Why did you write the books you did?
Again, I must confess that writing six books about my Sephardic heroine, Naomi was never a goal! I was writing a book about three women who meet while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Ruth was a lot like me so it was easy to write her character sketch.
Scout was a pastor’s kid and having known many writing her character was fun!
Naomi was the third, and least important character, or so I thought! She was difficult to sketch because I had never known a Spanish Jew. Every time I tried to write her sketch, I ended up researching and writing about the trail, minor characters, anything but this illusive …
Finally I told a few friends that I needed help, and was surprised to discover that three of them, Correne, Betty, and Janice were Sephardic, and my friend Trish had married a man who did not know about his hidden heritage until she told him. My friends lent books. After I devoured them, I ordered many more and began researching what happened to the Spanish Jews hundreds of years before the Spanish Inquisition as well as its little known Mexican counterpart.
I had spoken about the book with my publisher friend who had been asking me to write for ten years. She was interested in publishing the work. After months of waiting she asked what I was doing. I told her I was writing a character sketch for Naomi. As requested, I sent her my dailies. Forty days later she told me I had begun to write a different, and she believed, better book, and suggested I go back three days and begin reading! And that is how the two Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, and the four volume Naomi Chronicles were written. But, since I’m telling all, I believe it important to mention that if Naomi had not begun to tell me her story, after asking her mamá’s permission and receiving it, none of these books would exist!
What a wonderful journey to an incredible end result. But let’s not get ahead of things. I have more questions about the who and why of you.
Did you have any trouble coming up with the titles?
After writing what became books one and two, I met with my friend who publishes and discovered that not having a book or chapter titles happens.
Hahaha, Tell me about it. You would be surprised how many authors change the titles of their WIP’s not once but often before publishing. Shoot! Linda Rae Blair even changed it after publication first time. I’m sorry for interrupting, go on.
During our meeting we settled on Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, which should have been the title of the saga for the first two books. If I had it to do over again, I might have chosen separate titles for those books. Since I like to move forward and cannot do that well if I drag around regrets for things that could have been better, that lesson taught me what I need to know, so I’ve given each of the four Naomi Chronicle Books their own unique title and cover!
Can you see any character in your books turn away from faith?
My characters are written as they present themselves. Given the reality that many in the faith have issues there are characters within the books that lust, are raped, consider abortion, and yes there is even a member of the clergy that tries to run away from his sin nature. Personally I think writing about a person who turns away from their faith and the effects it has on them and others would be amazing but so far that’s not the story I’ve been hearing! Perhaps someday I will.
Do you ever speak to your characters? When you do, do you discuss, or lay down the rules on how they should behave?
I don’t remember speaking to the characters, but have been told by readers and read reviews of the books when readers were so upset that they worried about or talked to the characters! One reviewer mentioned staying up all night trying to figure out how she could help Naomi. Another reader was so upset that while speaking to Naomi, she woke her husband out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night!
That is amazing and a sure signs you are able to pull the reader into the book and have them solidly relate to your characters. Well done!
If you would have to change anything in your books what would it be and why?
I have at times written something that made no sense, gone to bed, thought I should fix it, begun to get up and heard God say, “Do not edit me!” Hearing those affirming words reminded me that though the world calls me an author, he called me to write. Therefore, I am a scribe for Messiah.
Do you ever write alternative endings?
No, I haven’t written alternative endings. It’s enough just making sure that I keep tract of each character, local, and situation so at the end of each book as well as the end of the saga the reader’s not only happy but knows where each of these people are and that they are all right. This is very important to me because there are at least three more series or sagas that I’m researching, and some the minor characters in this saga will be featured in those stories where readers might also find out what’s happening with Chaz, Naomi and the others.
Okay, the serious part is over. Let’s move on to the fun.
What do you like to secretly do to unwind?
Unwinding is so very important! If I have the time, I like to take off with my husband, who also writes, and go to Big Bear’s Best Western Chalet, a deluxe getaway that looks like a castle! Both of us love to hike the woods, eat great food, walk around the town, and write! If I’m local, meeting with my girlfriends for a gab fest. I love talking with my writer friends in Wales, Australia and other far flung places and planning what island we will meet on for a month and who we’ll invite to join us once we’ve time and money.
There’s a great plan if I ever heard one!
Now, you know I like a scoop, so tell me something that will be fun for us to know about you.
I can’t tell a joke without laughing and my laughter is so infectious that everyone starts laughing. By the time I’ve stopped laughing and can tell the joke, I’ve forgotten what it is and usually while admitting that I’ll start to laugh and where all off to the race’s again!
Paula, you do sound like a fun woman to know! Great, because the fact you have an infectious laugh means you know how to enjoy life and those people bring joy to others.
Now, do you have a craving for sweet or salty snacks? And when does it hit you?
I love food period! If I’m up, if I’m down, I love food! Since I lived next door to my grandparents and my grandfather owned and was a Jewish baker, I love anything sweet! My husband introduced me to salt. After years of experimenting, I can testify that life lived with a little sweet and a little salt helped me understand that everything has a reason for being even if I currently don’t know why!
That is a wisdom not many people realise is important to keep in mind.
But tell me, what is the song that got stuck in your head the most while you wanted it out?
Since I love music, I don’t remember wanting to get a song out of my head. I do smile each time I hear Johnny Mathis sing The Twelfth of Never because that was one of the songs I listened to when I was writing the Casa Saga books.
What movie awakened something basal in you? And what emotion was it?
The movie Charly staring Cliff Robertson based of the book Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes was, by far, the most terrifying possibility I’ve ever seen depicted on screen because it shows how a drug can transform a very developmentally disadvantaged adult into a genius from whom scientist are learning while the one they are learning from discovers that he will become as he once was.
And finally tell us a secret, one that colours your cheeks just thinking back on it. Or just tell us something fun to know about you.
I’ve learned that we can only see in others what we have perceived in ourselves so whether others rave or morn, it’s not about me, and knowing that allows me to be me free to be me!
That is a most wonderful statement to end this interview with. Thank you Paula for so freely sharing these snippets of your life with me and my readers.
Now tell me where can we find you on the internet?
And finally, I am proud to announce Paula will be back tomorrow with more. Do come back and don’t miss out on a wonderful revealing of the book.