A Book—Almost by Another Name by Paula Rose Michelson

Yesterday I got up early ready to start writing this blog, which had already been written and edited in my thinker, posted. As always, I began my day by responding to emails. Two hours later, I did what I try not to do, but often do these days. I checked Amazon to see if “Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing Book 1” had been posted. It had! In fact you can pre-order the novel, which will ship on December 20! I was all smiles. Then I noticed that the name had been shortened to read “Casa de Naomi.” For more than a year, I have been speaking, blogging, and talking about “Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing.” Knowing that anyone who had heard or read anything about the book would enter that name, I did likewise and discovered that nothing showed up!

The drama in my head beat a staccato refrain when I realized that the discussion I had with the jacket designer had not been emailed or signed off on, and shortly afterward, she left Tate to pursue another opportunity. I remember being told that once “Casa” was on the dot coms changes would be VERY expensive and SOME COULD NOT BE MADE AT ALL!

However, I felt I had to try, so girding myself with prayer, I emailed my marketing rep. I received a response that I couldn’t understand, and sent another email. For over an hour I tried to understand what I wasn’t, and I finally picked up the phone. While the receptionist put me through I got on Amazon again and discovered that hurray, MY TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT HAD BEEN FIXED!

I would love to tell you that I immediately remembered Matthew 6:34 where Messiah says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” However, I must confess that it came to mind when I finished writing this blog, stopped, and wonder how to end this posting. God is so loving and kind! He did not hit me over the head with this scripture yesterday as a reproach for my behavior. He already knew that what I had put myself through showed that I was not relying upon him. No, God—my loving Abba, waited until I could receive, and then he sent me in search of that which I already knew but had not used when to do so would have been a blessing!

Don’t we all wish that those who love us would treat us this kindly? And having been blessed by the enormity of Gods love, don’t we wish that we did not disappoint him as often as we do? I imagine that like me, you, want to please him. Perhaps, just perhaps, when we, or to be more specific, me, fall short, God uses us more. For those in need may be more attracted to the one we serve when they see how much he loves us, though we are still in process.
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A Season and a Reason to Give Thanks by Paula Rose Michelson

If I remember it right, and I should be able to do that since this is my story, though its really about my brother Ron, it all began when I came home from school and found the house locked, not a soul, especially not my mother, who was a stay at home mom – well, as I was saying, not a soul in sight! If that had happened a year before I wouldn’t have banged at the front and back doors hollering for someone to let me in. Nor would my angst have led me to believe that the unthinkable had happened, and my family – mom and all – had moved while I was at school, a horrid punishment for crimes I had not committed. Yet the mind of a child seems, or at least in my case, finds the fault hers. So with no grandma living next-door to run to with my problems as I had done until we moved, and without any idea what to do next, I cried myself to sleep as the sun set, and a chill wind reminded me that it was almost Thanksgiving.

A voice seemed to call to me while hands grabbed mine insisting that I stand when all I wanted to do was sink back into the oblivion of the ice-cold cement slab I was laying on. As Mrs. Bauer rubbed my chilled hands with hers, she looked at the yellow stain on our porch. I saw what she did, realized my panties were wet, and knew that in my distress, or perhaps because of it, I had peed my pants! It seems odd now, looking back on feeling abandoned, that I found it comforting that our neighbor did not mention what I knew she had seen. Instead she took hold of my hand with a firm grasp, and pulled me of the porch as I screamed, “I can’t leave! My family will be back and mom always told me to wait here if anything happened!”

“Their not going to come,” was all she said as she led me up the hill to her place. Their not going to come! I couldn’t believe my ears. What did I do that was so bad that their not ever going to come? I wanted to yell. But all I did was…NOTHING! After all what could a child do to get her family to care enough to come?

Of course everything worked out all right. My weekend from hell was endured, and then my parents picked me up acting as if nothing unusual had happened. They pretended, and taking my que from them, so did I.

Suddenly it was time to prepare for Thanksgiving. Only there was a big problem, from the moment my parents had picked me up, our family was missing one person – my brother Ron. And odd as it might seem, no one – well neither mom nor dad - talked about him, so I didn’t either. But as the time for baking drew near I noticed that mom didn’t ask me to crack nuts, nor did she bring home a turkey. Needing to know what was going on, I snuck from my bedroom to the family room imitating the GI’s I had seen in war movies. I had done this so I could watch TV when I was supposed to be asleep. Now, with the need to know what was going on uppermost in my mind, I used the skill I had honed, and heard about my brothers’ radical Mastoid operation on both ears and the fact that the doctors had told my parents that most likely the surgery would kill him! Even if the surgery were a success, the infection he had was life threatening, and because the surgery would allow the toxins that had built up in his system to become systemic and invade every area, even if he survived the surgery there were no guarantees that he would live. Dad was holding mom and both of them were crying. I wanted to join them. However, young as I was, it was obvious that they didn’t need needy me hanging on to them. So as I sunk back to bed, I told myself, Sometimes secrets are a good thing.

I don’t remember if they ever told me the details of all Ron was facing. Perhaps they did. But I don’t think so because the first memory I have of my brother was him in a ground floor hospital room, surrounded by mom and dad, and me standing outside in the cold wind holding our dog. Ron smiled and waved to the dog. He seemed not to see me, nor did he wave. But he was all smiles – although I though that he had forced those smiles to ally our parents worries. His head was so bandaged that it was triple its usual size. And I found myself worrying that what I had overheard had happened and his infection had spread.

As the sun began to set, my folks joined me outside. We waved goodbye and headed home. While in the car I learned that the surgery had been so radical that my parents had called our rabbi, and asked for prayer. It wasn’t until the next Saturday while attending Shabbat school that I discovered that there had been a twenty-four hour prayer vigil for Ron. Now everyone was all smiles, happy that he was doing well and would soon be home. Not wanting to upset anyone with my tail of woe which, next to life threatening surgery, seemed insignificant I agreed with them, and thanked them for all they had done.

Now 64, I look back on this experience as a defining moment for each of us. For each of us made choices that set our feet firmly upon a path they may, as in my parents’ case, have traveled before, or, as in my brothers and my case, wandered down many times since then. For me that sad weekend when I felt abandoned followed by a week of not knowing where my brother was, and weeks of not knowing if he was going to be alright instilled within me a desire to protect and nurture those I love. That I never spoke of what I felt or asked why they had forgotten about me was part and parcel of who I became in large part due to this episode. As far as how these events affected the rest of my family, I have my ideas, but since I am not a mind-reader, I will leave it to them to share if they wish, or to you – my reader to embellish, if you must.

The one gem that I took from this episode, the one that for me made and continues to make that long ago Thanksgiving that we celebrated together – mom, dad, me, and Ron, a week prior to Christmas joyous, was the tradition I unknowingly instituted by asking before we began our meal if each of us would share what we were most thankful for. The sharing that occurred that day brought smiles to our faces, and tears to our eyes. Each year since that sad one – the year I really thought we would never have anything to be thankful for again – my family – husband Ron, daughters Danae, and Cheryl, and whomever else is with us take time to speak out loud the reason this season is one of thanks. And in saying what matters most to us – family, friends, faith, and our commitment to each other and God, we affirm that this really is a season of and we really have many reasons to give thanks for everything - even those things that seem at the time to take the thanks out of Thanksgiving!

If you have a Thankful Story that you would like me to post on this blog during this season, email your story to paula@paulawordsmith.com
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Along the Way by Paula Rose Michelson

Authors meet such interesting people along the way. When authors of any type of fiction, find that their characters begin speaking to them, literally dictating their story they become friends we meet and visit with sometimes for a season as in a short story, sometimes for a lifetime of writing as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes did. Add to that experience the startling reality that what we researched can validate another persons history that they themselves are not sure of and you will understand my surprise when I decided to revisit a poo pourri critique group led by a wonderful man many refer to as Bahia Rob, and emailed my pages to those who attended.

Upon arriving, I was greeted warmly, enjoyed chatting with those that I knew, met some new members, and heard about their projects. As the group began, Rob asked me, since I was in the process of being published to share, which I did. When the critiquing process was to begin, Rob asked me to begin, and I agreed. When I finished, I happily took a back seat hoping to observe, listen, and learn. However, much to my surprise it seemed that the women were of one accord. For having read my Historical Notes and the first paragraph of book two of the Casa Saga, they praised my writing comparing it to such luminaries as Francine Rivers and wanted to know more about the second Casa de Naomi novel and Tía Rosa.

I was surprised that these well-read women compared my work to one of my favorite authors. But I was more surprised when a new member joined the group because she seemed to me to be a kinswoman though how I sensed that I did not know. Nor did I understand why I suggested that we go to lunch together, especially since I was trying to save money. As we began to dialogue while we ate is seemed that the offhanded remark I had made as we crossed the parking lot had resonated with her for instead of her asking me why I had thought she was Jewish she said, “You said I was a Jew. How do you know that?” I do not know why I said what I said, but assumed to was Adonai who chose my next comment for me for instead of answering her I began speaking about my researching the Sephardim, and that those who fled the Mexican Inquisition had traveled as far as Colorado and married plains Indians like the Apache. She interjected some amazing comments and before half and hour had passed I realized that I was sitting with a Sephardic Jew who had not been sure if what she thought about her history was true until our meeting. Yet here she was a woman whose family had journals, diaries, and papers from the Spanish crown dated during the time of Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva (1589), who was himself a converso (a Jew baptized into the Catholic faith during the Inquisition), and the first governor of New Spain.

I was as excited to meet and speak with Parrish, as I had been to meet and speak with Phillip - a distant cousin to the direct decedent of Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva because all research showed that every member of that family but a distant niece had died during the Inquisition. Yet there was Phillip and now Perrish to verify their history. However, as amazed as Perrish was, she was circumspect as well she should have been. Where Phillip had always known who he was and what his heritage was, Perrish needed to begin a lengthily search, and like many she found that her family affirmed what she suspected, but others, especially those she contacted about taking the DNA test did not. Undaunted, she pressed on.

Two months later, we meet at the critique group again. This time she did not come because my pages had piqued her interested. This time she came to share about her journey. After that group and another lunchtime discussion with Perrish, I found the email I have posted below, as you read it please remember that 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Hello Paula!

After spending the past two months researching and uncovering me and my families Sephardic roots-- thanks to you--as I read these testimonies a kindred spirit sparks in my heart. Thank you for expelling the healing oils of courage out from your soul and onto mine! You’re a "mend setter"...


To read what my Sephardic friend did, please visit http://CasadeNaomi.blogspot.com and read my post entitled "A Sephardic Voice.
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Casa de Naomi Update by Paula Rose Michelson

Because the last few weeks have been so auspicious, and the events and comments came at an ever-increasing rate, I have posted the highlights by day. My prayer is that as you read them, you will see Gods hand in my “Year of 5,000 Books!”

On Sunday, October 23, I received an email from Tracey Awwad, which read, “I read the first book and loved it! When is the second book coming out? I can't wait!” When I saw her she exclaimed, “I read the book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down!”

That evening I attended a writers group where friends seemed eager to hear all that was going on while some wrote out checks and told me how to inscribe their novel.

On Monday, October 24, I met with the members of the Laguna Woods Writers Club to prepare for my Friday interview. Both of them had read Casa de Naomi, and visited my “Year of 5,000 Books” and “Casa de Naomi Reflections” blogs, as well as my PaulaWordsmith website. The questions they asked put me at ease for I could see that I was in the hands of expert interviewers. That belief was validated when our interview commenced. By the time our segment ended, I felt I had made two new friends. As I stood, I realized that they had done a lot to prepare and wanted to give them something as a thank you. However, I had nothing except the book they had read. When I asked if they would like me to inscribe the novel they were handing back to me, they smiled and I inscribed their books. “I really wanted to keep this but didn’t want to ask since you bought it,” they seemed to say in one voice. As I headed out I heard one of them comment, “Casa de Naomi reminded me of my Flamingo lifestyle after I graduated college and teaching Spanish after that first year.”

I spent the week unpacking from our move, discovering new things about Laguna Woods Village, and meeting new people, one of whom is an author and true to an unspoken protocol, we exchanged books. However, as we sat chatting amicably she thumbed through Casa de Naomi, and before I left bought a copy for a friend.

On Friday afternoon, the Lutheran Church of the Cross-hosted a Casa de Naomi Event. Though attendance was light, those that came enjoyed the program and one woman took my contact information as she exclaimed, “My woman’s group will definitely want you to visit and present Casa de Naomi as you did here!” she scooped up the books she had bought, smiled, and headed for home.

On Sunday, October 29, I got a call from my daughter Cheryl who shared, “I planned to read a chapter every night. However, that didn’t happen because when things started to build I had to read more. I told myself, 'Just one more chapter, then I’ll go to bed.' But I couldn’t put the book down until I finished the read! I always knew that you told good stories, but how did you do that?”

I would have loved to tell her that I had honed my craft, but who am I kidding, I’m still a journeyman (in my case woman) author who was blessed beyond my wildest imaginings when the characters began to speak. All I did was write what Naomi and the others said. Still, I must confess that a sense of having accomplished what I wanted to engulfed me.

Thursday, morning I spoke at the Biola University Library, about My Writers Journey from Manuscript to Publication, afterward I manned (womaned?) a Casa de Naomi book table that Dean Vliet set up in the library. As students walked by I spoke with them about the novel and before I knew what was happening students were hurrying away with one of my novels in their backpack or hand.

I know this sounds like a heady experience, and it is! However, it’s getting better all the time! Tonight I prepare for a weekend event at Abiding Savor Lutheran Church. Next weekend my own Laguna Woods Village will host a weekend event and I’ll be there selling Casa de Naomi!

Having sold half of the books I ordered and having presold 120 books prior to signing the contract with Tate Publishing this leads me to one conclusion, if God is involved in our life and our work, we can do anything! Even a dyslectic artist like me can write a book that has people (even daughters) asking, “How did you do that?” Think I’m wrong? Then let me share that five readers have already purchased the second novel in the Casa Saga, and two have spoken about the book their reading and sold the novel to their friends! Obviously, I have accomplished what I wanted to. I wrote a historic romantic fiction that readers would not put down until they had finished the read. Moreover, it appears that I have entertained them so well that readers are telling their friends about Casa de Naomi and to their own amazement selling the novel because of their enthusiasm! To order Casa de Naomi prior to its December 20 release date, visit http://www.PaulaWordsmith.com
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