This was the beginning of LAMB (Life Affirming Messages from the Bible) Ministries which helps women recover from trauma and abuse through the effective use of Scripture, and prayer.
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Casa de Naomi Book One trailer
Paula Rose Michelson's books
Questions for Paula Rose Michelson from Julia's students
PAULA ROSE MICHELSON: Before I answer your questions, I want to Dr. Julia Gousseva for using my work once again in her class. I have read student comments and, as they warmed my heart, I hope my answers will affirm your desire to write, for creative writing is done when one answer’s their own heart call.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
I wrote what later became Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Books One and Two in a year. Since my husband’s work schedule was the opposite of mine, and I worked from home, I would begin writing at 3PM, taking short breaks for dinner and a walk, and stop writing when he came home at 10:30PM unless Naomi had more to tell me. On average, I wrote seven hours per day five days per week. Rewriting and many edits to get the book where it was ready to be sent out took another year. Editing the first chapter took three months, and I must share that an author friend of mine helped me understand what was needed for the opening scene to grab the reader so they would choose my book.
Did you visit the locations that are referenced in the book for inspiration?
No, I have never been to any of these locals, do not speak or write Spanish, and have never been friends with those who spoke Spanish as their first and primary language. However, none of these things mattered because while researching and writing a character sketch for Naomi, she began telling me her story. I now know that this is what writers of fiction long for, but at the time all I knew was that I, like each of you, was captivated by this heroic teenager’s story and had to know more!
I see the date was March 20, 1952. Did this have any specific reason, or something historical behind it?
At the onset of writing anything, we are taught to write a synopsis, which I did for the story I had planned to write about two women who meet while hiking the Appalachian Trail, and the third one (Naomi) whom they would meet at a reunion. Since dating that story wasn’t necessary, I didn’t think it important to date this one until I realized that with Naomi coming from Spain where a fascist dictator had been in power, and Chaz’s being American placed him in a country where both the first and second World Wars impacted everyone, I needed the reader to feel grounded. It was then that I discovered that every story needs factual details so the reader doesn’t have to guess them thus taking their focus away from your book and possibly into another authors work.
Furthermore, after speaking with a small publisher who’d read what became the two books, I knew I was writing a saga, and having begun with a historical event (the Inquisition) I knew that history would play a part in all of my books.
But to better answer your question, though a lot went on historically before and after the date I chose, I selected this date because there wasn’t anything historically noteworthy occurring when Naomi’s journey begins.
Prior to submitting this manuscript, I’d written five of the six Naomi books. I now knew that Naomi’s story began in 1952 and ended in 1978 and I’d found the historical issues of this span of time to be incredibly relevant to both my heroine and hero.
What made you interested in the Spanish culture and more specifically immigration? Does your family have a connection to it?
Bravo! After years of answering wonderfully amazing questions, this one is new to me!
To answer the first part of your question, I was interested in writing about the hidden Jews. I have already researched two other groups one in India the other in…since that’s not germane to our discussion, let me share that I will continue to write about the hidden Jews long after the Naomi book are published.
As far as Ellis Island is concerned, all my grandparents and my great aunts and uncles immigrated to America through Ellis Island. I was fifteen when my father was having preliminary meetings in Washington D.C. with that branch of government responsible to choosing the company that would build the Gemini Fuel Cell. When my great aunt, Dora, who shared my bedroom with me before she wed, realized dad would be close to Ellis Island (it was several states away but closer than anyone else had been), she asked him to find her records so she could prove to the government that she was old enough to get her Social Security because she wanted to retire. We were all surprised to hear this and discovered that, wanting to marry, and fearing her age a hindrance, she would say she was younger than she was and continued to subtract years the older she got. Too assure that she would not be found out, she tucked her immigration documents away so well that she no longer had them, and arriving here as a teenager, she could not remember the name of the boat she’d been on or the date she arrived.
This is not a unique story as many Jewish immigrants, planning to never leave the safety of America, tossed documents they would someday need. What is interesting is that it took dad and an Ellis Island official a week to find her entry information. We understand that must have been quite the norm for the man that helped dad assured him that he had been hired and trained to do what Dora and others needed. When dad informed, Dora that she was many years older than Uncle Nate was they both rejoiced because she was now able to file for her Social Security Benefits, which was a financial blessing that allowed them to fix up the place they rented and have their car overhauled from top to bottom.
Living frugally, this was a blessing neither one of them had ever expected. Since they had no children, and I was the only child my aunt ever helped rear, and I often forgot and called her grandma, I was the heir of her estate since my Uncle Nate died before she did. With her frugal ways the money Dora bequeathed to me paid for my cosmetology education and helped me set up our first apartment before my husband and I wed.