The Dogtrot Christmas–Outtakes and Research Details

About The Dogtrot Christmas

DogtrotWriting a novel is not as simple as putting words on a page. A good novel involves research, attention to detail and imagination to seamlessly meld the two.

The original idea behind The Dogtrot Christmas came from my own genealogical research on the Hanks family. I wanted to write a Christmas romance that took place in an American log cabin.

Many elements in the story are true. Molly’s experiences with the native American at the creek happened to my distant kin Kizzie Hanks Colwell.

Kizzie saw a hand reaching through the unchinked walls to pat a baby. Her sister, Cynthia Hanks Faires died in childbirth on the trail to Texas, led by their father Rev. Thomas Hanks.

Kizzie raised young James Faires, along with her own brood of children. Her pioneer spirit inspired The Dogtrot Christmas.

Detailed information

The Dogtrot Christmas” in the New York Times best selling A Log Cabin Christmas Collection (Barbour Publishing, ISBN 1616264780; September 1, 2011; trade paperback and ebook) 60 pages

The Dogtrot Christmas is the story of Luis Carvajal, a disillusioned Tejano in 1836 Nacogdoches, Texas. After the Battle of Goliad, the Mexican army releases him to travel home. After three years of involuntary service, he wants to start a new life on the piece of Spanish Land Grant his father gave him. Unfortunately, he discovers his greedy brother-in-law declared him dead and sold the property. An Anglo couple–which includes a foolishly-generous blond woman with bluebonnet eyes–is building dogtrot cabin.

Texas during the 1830s was full of problems with property rights and my story highlights them and how they could be worked out in peace–or at least in love in this story!

A dogtrot cabin consists of two “pens” small cabins, built side by side with a space “wide enough for three dogs to trot through shoulder to shoulder” and covered with one roof. I’m sure you can see how Tejano and Anglo cultures can be covered and united under the umbrella of Christianity.

I use a dogtrot cabin as a metaphor of the melding of two different cultures.

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Reviews

“I love The Dogtrot Christmas story.” romance novelist Kathleen Y’Barbo

“Of particular enjoyment is Michelle Ule’s debut novella The Dogtrot Christmas. Michelle has well researched the cultural of her setting, included well thought
out intrigues, and writes in such a manner to hold your interest and leave you wanting more.”  From Amazon reviews

“I really enjoyed the blend of cultures in this story and the way the author incorporated Spanish culture with the Christmas message.” Cafe Lily Reviewer

 What’s a dogtrot cabin?

I made a video demonstrating in a silly fashion how a dogtrot cabin can be envisioned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6LNPHFNPq0&feature=g-hist

Other links to the writing of the story.

I’ve also written a short blog post about the work of actually writing the story once the contract was signed. You can read it here.

Original chapters/backstory.

When I originally started The Dogtrot Christmas, I wrote three opening chapters. My agent, Janet Grant, read them and emailed back, “you’re writing a novel here, not a novella. You need to start in a different place.”

She was correct, but I still liked those opening chapters which set the tone I used when the story itself was written. You can read those original chapters here and here.

The shock of the New York Times list and the melancholy emotions of finally being published.

Perhaps the most exciting element of getting my first work published, was both the reflection on what having a dream fulfilled meant and also the shock of the book landing on the New York Times best seller’s list. I’ve written about the dream fulfillment here, and the best seller’s list here.

The New York Times best seller list, October 2, 2011 ( I’m et al . . . )

Writing Samples

From The Dogtrot Christmas:

She crouched beside Andy and stared through the log gaps toward the trail. Belle streamed from the woods, making enough noise to flush out every bird within miles. The dog paced before the cabins, teeth barred. Jamie waited in the breezeway.

A Mexican man dressed in worn dirty clothing pushed out of the woods, leading a lame satiny black stallion. “Vaya, perro,” he yelled at Belle.

The dog bounced left and right, growling and barking. The man stopped. “Que es esso?”

Jamie walked toward him cradling the rifle in one arm and holding up the other hand in greeting. “Buenos dias.”

“Good day,” the man replied in a deep voice that held just a trace of Spanish lilt. “Call off your dog.”

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