Sunday, July 5, 2015

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield, Author & Equestrian


From Michigan USA, welcome author Catherine Ulrich Brakefield!  In June 2015, Catherine released her new historical romance Wilted Dandelions! A rider of beautiful Arabian horses and a seasoned writer, Catherine enjoys the thrill of collecting historical research to write a novel that will connect you to America’s great heritage. Wilted Dandelions is the story of Rachael and her family, American missionaries who persevered.

Welcome Catherine!  

Do you believe that early American missionaries, like Rachael, influenced American culture?
Yes, very much so!  Missionaries put into actions what Jesus preached. They “gave” instead of “took” and followed the Golden Rule of Matthew 6:31-33 “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”

The missionaries exemplified this so well that in Casper, Wyoming at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, I found these words printed across a wall pertaining to the western expansion, “WHO WENT … Mountain Men, Explorers and Missionaries.… AND WHY … Money, Adventure, and Salvation.”

To me, that incorporates how our founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence set the precedent for God and which inspired songs like, “Our Country Tis of Thee”, “God Bless America,”  “Oh Beautiful” and our National Anthem.

Americans continuously displayed their dependency for God. In 1861 during the Civil War, devout people throughout the country urged the United States to recognize the Deity and to stamp on the United States coins, “In God We Trust.” After World War II, President Eisenhower urged Congress to include, “One nation, Under God,” Indivisible in our pledge of allegiance.

As you were writing Wilted Dandelions, what impressed you the most about the Oregon Trail and the arduous journey of early Americans?
How these early pioneers managed to reach Oregon without getting lost and reach Oregon before winter. They had to cross the Rocky Mountains before snow made the mountain trails impassable. However, Jonathan and Rachael in Wilted Dandelions set out before the Oregon Trail, which made this trip even harder.

When my husband and I lost our cell phone connection on our way to South Pass, we felt stranded and alone. Our car was low on gas; we were hungry and didn’t know where we’d spend the night. I can just imagine how those missionaries felt not knowing where, or if, they were following the right trail and uncertain as to where the next watering hole was, or if some hostile band of Indians might take their horses, and capture them, kill the men and capture the women. 

I loved your story. What message do you hope people will take from Wilted Dandelions?
That God doesn’t create coincidences, He designs possibilities! There is no such thing as fate when you become a Christian. As it states in Proverbs 3:5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” I especially like Matthew17:20 for Wilted Dandelions and, incidentally, this Bible verse is stamped on my Stylists pen which is included with Wilted Dandelions, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” I believe that God created South Pass through the Great Divide for this United States of America. If God hadn’t, America would have been divided east from west.

Was it just a coincidence that in 1802 in Cane Ridge, Kentucky the Second Great Awakening began, and in 1803 France decided to sell their property west of the Mississippi to the United State of America? Nope, that was a God thing, too!

It took over 30 years to have the Second Great Awakening spread across America by horseback. By the 1830’s tent revivals were springing up like mushrooms across America. That is when the Missionary Alliance moved missionaries into the unknown regions of the wilderness west of the Rocky Mountains.

Who is your favorite character in Wilted Dandelions?
Rachael, because I think we all have a little of Rachael in us. I don’t believe that anyone can say they have not disappointed someone. Rachael could not please her father’s expectations nor could she become the person her parents hoped her to be.

Rachael loved to romp in the woods, sneak off to tent revivals, and didn’t want to get married. She was causing the neighbors to whisper about the Rothburn name and her father, a prestigious senator, was having a hard time explaining her actions.

Her father and mother loved Rachael, but why couldn’t their daughter look and behave like other young ladies of her class? Why? Because God had designed her the way she was for her mission in life. Our Lord will never go against the Biblical teachings written in the Bible, but He will make a person unique in order to fulfill his or her mission in their lives. 

What part of your own life experience did you include in the story line?
I like to travel out west. And I prefer to be outside working than inside cleaning the house any day of the week! I wish I could witness to more people about the saving grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And, like Rachael, I look forward to the heaven that will soon be here on earth. I pray I will hear on that day, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Describe your writing studio and a day in your life...
I like to get up around 6 a.m. Get my outside chores done and then I sit in front of the computer about 10 a.m. Take a break around 1 p.m. and then work again until 5 p.m.

What are you currently writing?
Currently, I am writing a trilogy of Inspirational Historical Romance novels pertaining to one family through three generations. It starts out in Kentucky, they move to Colorado and finally to Detroit. The first novel will begin during the Spanish American War and the Gibson Era, The second novel will cover, World War I and The Great Depression, and the third novel will cover World War II.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Try to set up a place where you can work best and a time when the house is quiet.  Alone time is essential, especially if you are writing historical. I know some writers put on background music that depicts the era. For me, I need total quiet for the first thirty minutes. Once I am inside my character’s head, nothing bothers me. I don’t hear a thing. My husband gets aggravated at times. He has to walk right up to me and look me in the face before I even notice him.

You are a horsewoman with beautiful Arabians. What is your horse history?
My parents had a horse in their back yard and I was very small when Dad would plop me behind his saddle and we would ride Black Magic (our three gated Saddlebred mare) to the farmer’s house. When I got to be twelve, I would bridle up Magic, and use a wooden milk crate to jump on her bareback. (During that time, my family had a Twin Pines milk man that delivered milk to our eight member family.) Magic would pause for a brief second for me to get on that milk crate and I’d spring onto her back and we were off riding through field and orchard.

When I entered high school, I joined a riding club, took riding lessons, then when I graduated from high school, my parents bought a farm in Addison Township, Michigan where we raised Arabians. Dad bought a stallion, the great grandson of a famous horse named Raffles, a Domestic Arabian. Then my siblings and I along with my parents went to the Fenton Auction, where horses and livestock were sold every Saturday night, and bought grade mares. And that became the beginning of our breeding farm. Dad gradually added purebred Arabian mares. My five siblings and I had a lot of fun riding those horses.

I have owned and ridden Arabians ever since. My children rode Arabians in 4H, performed in Arabian horse shows; our family competed in distant riding competitions, and fox hunted at Metamora Hunt Club for 20 years. Our Arabians jumped the coops with the best of those thoroughbreds!

Family Fox Hunt, Metamora, Michigan 

Owning horses is certainly a spiritual experience. Have the horses added to your creativity and passion for writing?
Yes! I have many short stories out right now all about my experiences with my horses. The Benefit Package tells about my thoroughbred mare bred to an Arabian stallion and the problems I had with that thoroughbred mare not allowing her colt to nurse. The Horse I Love, coming out in the fall, has two short stories one about my daughter’s grey Arabian Gelding, and my son’s black Arabian, “The Little Giant”, who wouldn’t quit. My first book in my trilogy highlights our Arabian stallion, Raymar, and my first mare, Black Magic.

What are your future goals and desires?
To do God’s will and if that is to continue to write inspirational stories, I will put all my heart into the endeavor to encourage, motivate and inspire my readers toward a better understanding of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I love hearing from every one of my readers. I assure you a writer can never get “too puffed up”. They remain humble servants to their publisher and readers when that blank white page stares back at them.

Connect with Catherine…
Biography
Author Catherine Ulrich Brakefield is an ardent receiver of Christ's rejuvenating love, as well as a hopeless romantic and patriot. She skillfully intertwines these elements into her writing as the author of The Wind of Destiny, an inspirational historical romance, along with her history books, Images of America, The Lapeer Area and The Images of America, Eastern Lapeer County. Catherine released her newest Christian Romance novel, Wilted Dandelions, published by CrossRiver Publishing, in early June 2015.

Catherine was a former staff writer for Michigan Traveler Magazine, Breckenridge, Michigan, has freelanced for numerous other publications. Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books; Extraordinary Answers to Prayers, Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door; CrossRiver Publishing, The Benefit Package.

Catherine lives in Addison Township, Michigan USA, with her husband Edward of forty two years, and her beautiful Arabian horses. She enjoys horseback riding, swimming, camping and traveling the byroads across America. Her children are grown and married. Catherine and Edward are blessed recipients of two handsome grandsons and one precious granddaughter.


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