The Yuletide Bride–Backstory and Research

Yuletide Bride

About The Yuletide Bride

The Yuletide Bride a short 15,000 word novella linked to The Twelve Brides of Christmas Collection (Barbour, November 3, 2014). It was included in  The Twelve Brides of Christmas in October, 2015.

Ewan Murray has loved Kate McDougall their whole music-playing lives on the Nebraska prairie. When Kate puts up her hair, he realizes the time has come to put in his claim for her hand.

But her thrifty mercantile owner father challenges him to prove himself capable of supporting her. He demonstrates the connection of math to music as he teaches at the school and helps Kate’s brother learn to cipher.

But it’s in a refurbished family heirloom and his and Kate’s love of music that finally allows eleven young pipers and a bagpipe, to earn them a Yuletide wedding.

This is a fun story based, in part, on energetic verses from Psalm 150:

Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord! ~ Psalm 150


“My rating is five stars because of Michelle’s special characters and their attitudes through whatever life threw at them. It made reading truly wonderful and her writing was fantastic throughout the book!” ~Amazon reviews

“The Yuletide Bride has been one of my favorite short stories in this collection of Christmas stories so far of the 5 I have read. While with many of these in the collection there is a clear indication from the outset as to just who the heroine would end up with, in this story there was some clear doubt. This was something I appreciated as it gave the story have a little more weight to it and there was a clear sense of there being consequences for actions or lack of action.

Additionally, I liked that this story wasn’t at its core about two people falling in love in a ridiculously short time frame. There is a relationship already there from the start that is built upon over time and the characters interest in each other actually makes sense.” ~The Maiden’s Court reviewer

“I really enjoyed reading about Ewan and how dedicated he was to being able to marry Kate. . .  Kate had a conversation with her mom that really stuck with me as I was reading this book.” ~Zac Weikal

Brides novella Goodreads



I’ve been a musician since my sixth Christmas when I asked my parents for a piano.

My father, a former French horn player, was enthusiastic and my parents bought me a piano for Christmas!

I took lessons for many years and when my husband asked my father if he could marry me, my dad said sure, as long as he took the upright piano with me!

It’s in my living right now.  🙂

In addition to the piano, I’ve also learned to play a variety of other instruments–in school and out. These include: drums, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, alto recorder, percussion instruments, some guitar and the oboe.

I like woodwinds!

A friend showed me the gorgeous native American flutes she made. I thought about how children like to blow on reeds to make a sound. From there idea came of a young woman who loved fashioning flutes from the reed growing alongside a creek. Loving music, she found a pair of old bagpipes in her parents’ attic. Fascinated by the sound, she worked at it–and eventually got a tone that didn’t exactly sound like a dying goose.

But Kate was in love with a fiddler–with perfect pitch– who couldn’t stand the noise, er, sound and that presented a bit of conflict to the story.


Kate’s father, a hard working mercantile owner, knew his daughter loved the fiddle-playing Ewan. But the young man had no prospects, no family, no money. How could he give over his only daughter to man who had many good qualities buy no steady means to support his child?

(My business owner father, a former naval officer, had no worries about his only daughter marrying a naval officer . . . )

But he knew Ewan and so he gave him a chance: if he could earn $70 dollars by Christmas, his daughter could marry him. According to the Consumer Price Index, Ewan had four months to earn $1,380.36, 2014 prices.

As a former Navy Relief Budget counselor, I’ve always been interested in managing money and figuring out creative uses for the resources. Ewan and Kate ended up working together to solve the problem, in ways that made me chuckle.

But it wasn’t a done deal until some extraordinary events occurred.


Musicians tend to be good at mathematics–or at least innately understand and can translate the notes into sounds.

 But I’d read long ago how rhythm can help children understand mathematical concepts like the times tables. Kate’s brother Malcolm struggled with math and as a result felt like a failure. Ewan, a musician, and  teacher, took time to explain math by using stones as “manipulatives.”Once Malcolm grasped the concept,  a multiplication song made memorization easy.

Obviously, it’s not a miracle, but this is fiction and for Malcolm, manipulatives and music changed his life.


Most of the research was the result of reading I’ve done over the years, but I needed to understand what it would be like to play the bagpipes. Fortunately, I know a former north American clan chief. He let me try his:

I’m much happier with my tried and true clarinet!


One of the best parts about writing a novel is the chance to dedicate it to someone. I’ve played music with a lot of fine musicians over the years–including the UCLA Marching Band–but I wanted to honor the groups I’m involved in right now.

So The Yuletide Bride is devoted to the Music Director at my church, Rachel Durham, the five musicians with whom I regularly play in a wind ensemble, and the Jubilate choir I sing with every Thursday night.

Making music with them–whether with my clarinet or my voice–is pure joy.

If you’d like to see photos pertinent to The Yuletide Bride, check out my Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/michelleule/the-yuletide-bride/

Writing Sample

From The Yuletide Bride:

Ewan winced as Kate blew into the bagpipes. The scolding harsh sound grated on him as she wavered the tone trying to find a clear note.

She spit out the mouthpiece in a gasp. “Don’t you love it?”

“If you must make music with multiple tubes, I like the panpipes. How about a fiddle and flute duet?”

Kate set down the awkward bundle. “I’ll get one.”

Ewan picked up the “instrument” to examine. He observed dings and dents in the wooden tubes and was that blood on the cloth? With a little care and perhaps a new cover, it would look presentable in public, but the noise! He shuddered. His musician’s ear could be both a godsend and a curse when it came to musical notes.

He tugged at the chanter and it came apart, exposing an old reed. Ewan blew, amazed it still produced a sound. He popped out the old one to study better. Surely a new reed would help the tone. In the meantime, without a reed, Kate couldn’t make any noise. He grinned.

Sitting across from him, Malcolm laughed. “Thanks.”

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