Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beyond the Rapids by Evelyn Puerto

Imagine that you are a believer living in a communist country. You live with the knowledge that at any time you could be imprisoned, tortured, or killed simply because you are a Christian.
Beyond the Rapids is the true story of Ukrainian pastor Alexei Brynza and his wife, Valentina, who endured persecution in a culture that was hostile to their faith as they struggled to raise their four children as believers.

From the Great Terror of the 1930s to the time when believing in Christ in no longer a crime, this close-knit Ukrainian family quietly persisted through the years, trusting God for everything. The Brynzas’ children, forced to choose between God and the communist system, wrestled with temptations of ambition, popularity, love and wealth. For periods of their lives, one or more gave in. But God heard the faithful prayers of Alexei and Valentina, and eventually the Brynza family was able not only to survive while serving God, but to thrive. Their son-in-law, Igor Yaremchuk, adds his own testimony of coming to Christ with the help of miracles and atheistic propaganda.


Beyond the Rapids is a story for believers everywhere. If you’re concerned about the erosion of religious freedom, if you are discouraged because your children have wandered far from God, if you long to stand firm in your faith in all circumstances, the Brynzas’ testimony of God’s faithfulness will provide hope and inspiration as you are reminded afresh that God is with you, in every moment. As you sail through the torrents in your own life, God will meet you right where you are and guide you to the smooth water beyond the rapids.


Excerpt
Chapter 1
Grandpa and the Firing Squad
Stone walls do not a prisone [sic] make.1
George Bernard Shaw

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32

As told by Lena
            My parents didn’t allow my three brothers and me to play with the other children in the neighborhood. They built a wood fence around the yard and installed a gate, which Mama locked every morning after Papa left for work. Then she let us amuse ourselves in the yard while she was cooking or planting potatoes or taking care of the goats. We often stood at the gate, peeking through the bars, stretching our hands into the air, rejoicing that our hands were free, even if we were not, waving at the neighbors passing by, neighbors who laughed at us, remarking we were like prisoners in jail.
            Maybe the neighbors were joking; maybe they remembered that our grandfather had been imprisoned during the Great Patriotic War. Many Ukrainians rejoiced when our country was invaded. Some greeted the German army with bread and salt, the traditional symbols of welcome, hoping the Nazis would rule more humanely than the iron-fisted communists. After two years of German occupation, the Soviet Army drove the Nazis out, fighting so fiercely around Zaporozhe that the Dniepr River ran red with the blood of the dead.
            The Soviet Army rounded up all the men who survived the occupation to take to the front. My grandfather, Gavril, was among them. He refused to fight. The Baptist church left decisions about participating in war or bearing arms to each person’s conscience. For Grandpa, it was clear. “I am a Christian,” he said, “and I will not kill anyone.”
            To the Soviet authorities, this was traitorous. How could any citizen shirk his duty to defend the Motherland from the fascist invaders? The Nazis treacherously attacked our country, plundered wantonly, slaughtered millions of people, and carried off thousands more to slavery in Germany. Maybe my grandfather would have been more willing to help a regime that had not been so cruel to believers. He certainly wasn’t going to compromise his principles to help the Communist Party complete its Five Year Plan. He would remain true to his faith and convictions no matter what.
            For many years the authorities sought reasons to arrest Grandpa for his faith; now they had grounds to execute him. He was tried, sentenced to death by firing squad, and flung into the death cell with others condemned to die. There he sat for an entire month. The guards distributed almost no food and offered no medical care of any kind to these prisoners, reasoning that the inmates were going to die anyway. Why waste good food or medicine on traitors and criminals?
            Every morning, as the pale winter sun peaked through the tiny window high up in the wall of the unheated cell, the cell’s door grated open and a guard would appear. As he probed the faces of the condemned with his flashlight, the prisoners waited, resigned, knowing what was about to happen—one of their number would be called out never to return, and each one hoped to be spared one more day. But the guard’s light would finally settle on one weary face. “You.  Let’s go.”
            One morning the light drilled into Grandpa’s face. He calmly said good-bye to his cellmates. After a month in the death cell he still wasn’t sure why he had been arrested. Was it for refusing to fight in the army, refusing to kill another human being? Or was it simply for his faith? Now his sentence was about to be fulfilled; it didn’t matter why he was to die. He staggered to his feet, lightheaded from hunger, stiff from inactivity.
            The weak light of the winter sun pierced Grandpa’s eyes when he left the cell. Each step was a struggle, every muscle protesting, pain shooting through his feet as he walked to certain death, his heart at peace. He knew that in a few minutes he would be rewarded for his faith and enjoy eternal life with God. The guards marched Grandpa along the muddy streets of the camp. As they passed the headquarters, an officer came out. “Where are you taking this man?” he asked.
            “To the firing squad.”
            “What has he done?”
            “He’s a Baptist leech who won’t fight.”

            “My mother was a Baptist,” said the officer. “I can’t allow you to kill him. Give him another trial.”          At the second trial they sentenced Grandpa to ten years hard labor in a concentration camp in Siberia. Grandpa’s suffering was only beginning.





To buy her book, go here:


About Evelyn:

Evelyn Puerto left a career in health care planning to serve as a missionary for seven years in Russia. During those years, she travelled several times to Ukraine, where she met and was inspired by the Brynza family. She and her husband live in northeastern Wisconsin.


To connect with Evelyn:
http://www.beyondtherapids.com
http://www.evelynpuerto.com
Twitter: evelyn_puerto
Facebook: Facebook.com/Beyond.The.Rapids




Evelyn Puerto is giving away a copy of Beyond the Rapids. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)




Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Welcome Author Evelyn Puerto

Is there a story behind your book, Beyond the Rapids?

Several times during my years in Russia as a missionary I travelled to Ukraine to meet teams from my home church. There we met the amazing Brynza family and became captivated by their warmth, their love of God, and their stories of the mercy and grace that God showed them through great persecution. After I returned to the states, a woman who had been on one of the teams approached me and suggested that I write up the Brynzas’ story. She said that I was the one to write it, since I knew the family, I knew the culture, and I could write the story in a way an American audience could relate to it. At first I resisted, but came to realize that God was calling me to write the book. I have found so much encouragement and inspiration from the Brynzas’ example, and want others to be encouraged and inspired as well.


What started you on your writing journey?

My teachers always told me I wrote well, but I had no interest in a writing career. Other than writing reports for work and the occasional letter, I did almost no writing for many years. When the time came to write newsletters as a missionary, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed writing them. Writing Beyond the Rapids got me started on a career in writing, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

You name it! Sometimes it’s the cat, when she decides my laptop is the best place to take a nap. Laundry, falling snow or just the desire for a little snack all can pull me away from writing.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I’m all over the board. Some I’ve read recently that I’ve enjoyed are Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog, which is a great time travel story. I love historical novels, and my favorite is Ali and Nino by Kurban Said. I also enjoy biography and non-fiction, and love reading children’s books. Sometimes I’ll read thrillers, but never horror. I’ve got an overactive imagination, and want to be able to sleep at night!

What is your strangest habit?

My husband laughs at me for this one. Whenever we go on a trip, I print out directions (no GPS for me, thank you!) and look at a map. I just like to know where we’re going if we are doing the driving. It’s a good thing I’m married to someone who’s a little more spontaneous. We balance each other out that way.

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

When my husband sings sappy love songs to me and makes up his own words when he can’t remember the right ones.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

Would it be cheating to say anywhere? I love to travel. Here’s a true confession: one of the things I loved the most about missions is the travel, because I had the chance to meet new people, learn about new cultures, see new places and worship with other believers, even if I didn’t speak their language. To answer the question, Europe has always been a favorite destination, especially places like Prague and Slovenia, which are not the prime tourist spots but have a unique charm of their own.

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?

I served as a missionary in Russia for seven years, and often I think of people I met there when I am creating characters. Scenes of the countryside, food we ate there, the moods of the weather all are getting worked into my writing.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.    

You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32) has been a favorite for years. Many times I’ve been in a situation that seemed impossible, like a conflict with another person. But when we get to talking and understand each other’s position, the conflict doesn’t seem so great. Learning the truth about a situation, instead of clinging to what we think is going on, can set us free from anger, hurt or insecurity.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I just published my second book, Read Me Before You Write. In this short little book, I compiled the lessons I learned while writing Beyond the Rapids, in the hopes that other aspiring authors won’t waste the time and money I did in trying to write and publish a book. It’s my hope to give others a lot of the “I wish I’d known that” information that would have been so helpful to me.


You may purchase the book at:
Amazon
Or have your local library order it for you!


Evelyn Puerto is giving away a copy of Beyond the Rapids. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)




Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart



Friday, June 28, 2013

Oregon Author Collette Cameron

Welcome to the Loft, Collette! Is there a story behind your book Highlander's Hope?

The story started with a single scene and grew from there. Actually, it was a 156,000 word monstrosity that I cut to 85,000 words. I think it may have been a tad too wordy. I changed the title twice too. 

What started you on your writing journey? 

I'm an avid reader, and writing had always come easily for me. The notion to write a book has been in the back of my mind for years, but I always thought I'd write a self-help book or something about my spiritual journey. I never intended  or expected to write a romance novel. 

The last Sunday in January of 2011, my pastor said something that changed my mind. He said "We have to go outside the box, go to where the people are to reach them. It will look different than what we are used to, and some might not understand." 

I knew at that moment I was supposed to write a romance novel with inspirational overtones, and my target audience was non-believers. I started writing HIGHLANDER'S HOPE the next week. 

What is your strangest habit? 

Gee, I'm glad you didn't ask my family this question. They'd give you a list.
Okay, don't judge me, but I sleep with my five mini dachshunds. Hey, it gets cold here! 

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

I have a great sense of humor and can find something funny in almost every situation. My dogs make me laugh, my students make me laugh, and I make other people laugh. My books all have a bit of quirky humor in them too.
  
What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?

I grew up in a small town on the northern Oregon coast. I love walking on the beach in the early morning hours when the air is crisp and smells of the sea and seagulls are calling overhead. It's a friendly tourist town with adorable little shops I enjoy exploring. It remains one of my favorite retreats today. 

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?

I've been to London twice and both times, I fell in love with the city and surrounding area. The city is riddled with history and fabulous architecture. I write Regency romance, and there's something about having walked the streets or visited the same places that those who lived during the Regency period might have, that is exciting and rewarding.  

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

My stories have spiritual overtones which are subtle yet pervasive throughout the novel. My characters' relationship with God is portrayed as a natural, intrinsic part of their lives. It doesn't come across as preachy, which is important to me because my target audience is non-believers. I want to present God's truths yet still entertain and engage those who might not know him personally.    

Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?

I just redecorated of my son's bedrooms and created my own piece of shabby chic heaven. It's where I write, pray, or just escape from all the demands of my life. 

Would you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?

Psalm 27 is my favorite Psalm, especially the verse below. It reminds me of what is truly important and what my focus should be daily:

"One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD."

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I just finished and submitted the second book in my Blue Rose series, THE VISCOUNT'S VOW. It features some of the secondary characters in HIGHLANDER'S HOPE. Evangeline Caruthers and Ian Hamilton, The Viscount Warrick, are forced into marriage after they are discovered in a wholly innocent, yet highly compromising circumstances. Ian has been deceived into believing Vangie is a loose-moraled wanton. She thinks he's a foul-tempered, arrogant lord who deliberately set out to ruin her. Their tumultuous relationship is further complicated when attempts are made on both their lives. 

Find out more about Collette Cameron and connect with her at:

Her website
Blue Rose Romance Blog
FaceBook Page
Twitter
Google +
Pinterest
Soul Mate Publishing Author Blog

Collette Cameron is giving away a copy of Highlander's Hope. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.



Thursday, June 27, 2013

Highlander's Hope by Collette Cameron


Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn't dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He's determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn't recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London's docks, but Lord Sethwick's passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. 

On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, "I do." Will Ewan's manipulation cost him her newfound love?    

Excerpt


A sharp rap echoed at the door. Yvette breathed a sigh. Thank Goodness. Lord Sethwick wouldn’t have to answer the question after all. She raised her head and forced her gaze from the document in his hand.
He stared at her intently, then called, “Enter.”
“Lord Sethwick, please excuse the interruption,” a deep voice greeted. “‘Tis urgent I speak with you.”
Half-turning to look at the newcomer, Yvette could not contain her frightened gasp. She shot halfway out of her chair before Lord Sethwick’s hand snaked across the table and grasped hers, restraining her.
“Ewan!” In her panic, she addressed him by his given name.
“Miss Stapleton, Mrs. Pettigrove, may I introduce my associate, Trenton Carmichael?” said Ewan. “You know him as Nigel Collingsworth.”
Yvette sat down so hard her bottom smacked the chair with a stinging thud. Despite the day’s promise to be quite warm, she shivered, chilled to the bone. Searching the viscount’s face she repeated, stunned, “Your associate? I don’t understand. He was chasing me yesterday.”
Mrs. Pettigrove’s gooseberry eyes were round as the moon watching the exchange. “Mr. Collings, er, Carmichael was chasing you, Miss Stapleton?”
No one responded to her probing.
Holding Yvette’s hand, Lord Sethwick explained, “He wasn’t chasing you. Trent was trying to protect you by catching the man who was chasing you.”
“A different man was also chasing you? Whatever for?” Mrs. Pettigrove sounded envious.
Everyone ignored her.
Mr. Carmichael addressed Yvette. “I regret frightening you yesterday. It wasn’t my intent.”
Another knock sounded.
“Come in.” Lord Sethwick was less gracious this time.
Yvette managed not to gawk at the two men who entered the chamber. At least she thought she did. Faith, what handsome men. They must be friends of Lord Sethwick’s. Nobility no doubt.
“Sethwick, you rogue, keeping the arrival of your lovely bride-to-be a secret,” teased a tall gentleman dressed in black from toe to top.



About The Author


A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.


A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.



Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and going on to obtain her Master's Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc.


Some of Collette's favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, trivia, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she's not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading. 

Purchase Highlander's Hope:

Amazon Kindle


Collette Cameron is giving away a copy of Highlander's HopeTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.




Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Weeks' Winners

Once again we offer you  a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft.

I know you want to know ... WHO WON?
But before we announce our three winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:
Heidi Glick who has offered her  Suspense novel Dog Tags,
Yvonne Lehman who offered her Romance novel The Caretaker's Son,
and Michelle Sutton for offering her Romance novel  Collette's Crusade.

And now: We're pleased to announce this week’s winners:
Brittany McEuen has won Heidi Glick’s  novel  Dog Tags.
Cheri Swalwell has won Yvonne Lehman’s novel  The Caretaker's Son.
And Janice H. from NC has won Michelle Sutton’s novel Collette's Crusade

Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book. 

Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss the winners list. 




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Warm Welcome to Dorothy Featherling

Is there a story behind It Adds Up to Murder?
There is, but I can’t tell you because it will give away a key piece of the plot. The reader will understand after they enjoy the story. All I can say is the book (first in the “It’s Murder at the Office” series) is unique in that in each story, the murder weapon or the reason for the murder will be an office machine or office procedure. And, oh, yes, it’s also unique in that no one has ever written about a temporary worker as a continuing protagonist.


What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

It was a story about a little boy angel and was going to be book one in a series. I still may do it one of these days!


What’s your favorite genre of writing?

I can’t honestly say I have only one favorite genre. I write in multiple genres: mystery, romantic comedy, futuristic suspense, romance, and I have future ideas for some fantasy-type books and I want to do a children’s book.


Who is the most fun character you ever created?

By far, the most fun ‘character’ (if you can call him that), is a cat! Salem, a white Persian in “Kissing Frogs” definitely steals the show and the reader’s hearts. I love cats anyway, they are so haughty and independent, but Salem excels at both.


Which of your written plots is your favorite?

I think my favorite plot so far is my futuristic suspense, “Time Out” which I hope to be publishing in the fall or winter of 2013. At times it almost wrote itself.


Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

Yes, I have, and I will. I get ideas for stories or scenes of stories in all kinds of places and situations, so I have a folder full of jotted notes on scraps of paper and paper napkins, as well as notebook pages. I go back and review them from time to time just in case I’ve forgotten about something I can use in a current work. Of course, it also gives me lots of possibilities for future novels, as well.


How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Actually working on three – I’m editing my next book, writing book 1 of a new mystery series, and getting ready to do book 2 in the It’s Murder at the Office series.


How do people react when they find out you write?

Everyone I meet that doesn’t know me seems really impressed that I’m an author. I think there is a mystique in people’s minds about writers and they assign that to those of us who write. They don’t realize we’re just as ordinary as they are in most ways.


When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next book will be out this summer, probably late June or in July and will be another romantic comedy (I just published my first in April). The new one will be entitled “Kissing Frogs.” Here’s a blurb about it:

"Before you find the handsome prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.”

Until she decides to look for a husband, Em Snider is so-o-o-o in control of her life. But her trip on the internet matchmaking highway soon shows her that she can’t control the journey. Her first encounter is a warning. There are toads out there! A Christian internet matchmaking service provides Em a chance to discover Prince Charming, if she can survive the shocks. Em is soon ready to quit, but at the last minute, true love comes about in a way she never dreamed.

 
Buy the book here:
www.Amazon.com (Kindle and Softcover)
www.dafeatherling.com (links to Amazon)

May be ordered through any bookstore.



About Dorothy:
D. A. Featherling has penned seven novels in multiple genres and has written in a variety of non-fiction fields as well. An experienced public speaker, she has also worked in advertising, public relations, and marketing. Awards for journalism and public speaking began this writer’s career, with writing awards following. She co-founded and served for four years as president of the CenTex Chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and coordinated the first national ACFW Conference in St. Louis in 2001. As current owner of a staging business headquartered in Georgetown, Texas, and former administrator for an independent physics research center at the University of Texas at Austin, and for various state agencies and corporations, she is very familiar with the working world and agrees that, at times, it is indeed “Murder at the Office.”

Connect with Dorothy here:
Website: www.dafeatherling.com

Dorothy is giving away a copy of It Adds Up to Murder. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Monday, June 24, 2013

It Adds Up to Murder by Dorothy Featherling

Back Cover Blurb:
Abigail Newhouse is forced to work temporary jobs to make ends meet. She discovers that while the jobs can be murderous, there aren’t usually dead bodies involved. Abby isn’t expecting crime at her first long term assignment, but when it occurs, she wants to help. Will Homicide Lieutenant Nick Vaughn believe that – or is she his main suspect? Abby soon finds sleuthing has placed her in deadly peril when she finally confronts a merciless killer face-to-face.



Read an Excerpt here:


 

The CFO’s expression twisted into a sneer. “You’re a temporary necessity, Ms. Newhouse. Don’t expect much of a welcome.”

I fought the urge to make a face at Viola Grimes. What a horrible woman. How dare she be so rude? I clamped my lower lip between my teeth and tried not to chew. After ten minutes of exposure to her abrasive personality, I wanted to jump up and walk out of the office, but leaving was a luxury a temp couldn’t afford. Not one with a house payment due in two more weeks. So, I, a recently laid off university employee, put on my best stoic mask and slightly inclined my head to acknowledge her words.

There’s little else I recall about the interview, which came across more like an inquisition. If I were as mindless and incompetent as she insinuated, I ought to be sitting in a corner babbling and drooling.

I paid polite attention to the do’s and don’ts that spewed from between her thin lips and tried not to focus on her frizzy perm, flabby face, and beady brown eyes. If her list of rules were an example of what working for Viola Grimes would be like, I was in for a major challenge.



Buy the book here:
www.Amazon.com (Kindle and Softcover)
www.dafeatherling.com (links to Amazon)


May be ordered through any bookstore



About Dorothy:
D. A. Featherling has penned seven novels in multiple genres and has written in a variety of non-fiction fields as well. An experienced public speaker, she has also worked in advertising, public relations, and marketing. Awards for journalism and public speaking began this writer’s career, with writing awards following. She co-founded and served for four years as president of the CenTex Chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and coordinated the first national ACFW Conference in St. Louis in 2001. As current owner of a staging business headquartered in Georgetown, Texas, and former administrator for an independent physics research center at the University of Texas at Austin, and for various state agencies and corporations, she is very familiar with the working world and agrees that, at times, it is indeed “Murder at the Office.”

Connect with Dorothy here:
Website: www.dafeatherling.com


Dorothy is giving away a copy of It Adds Up to Murder. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.  To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Introducing Christian Author Michelle Lynn Brown

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Michelle!

Question: Is there a story behind your book Miracles in Disguise
Years ago, my sister received a marriage proposal from a pastor who was also involved in local politics.  She turned down his proposal for her own personal reasons, but during our conversation, she made the comment that she could not see herself as a pastor’s or a politician’s wife.  That is when the idea of a woman who is so plagued by her past, hurt by everyone she ever trusted, ends up meeting a wonderful man, a man she feels she isn’t worthy of. 
From there, The Trampled Rose Series spawned.  It features women whose spirits are crushed.  Miracles in Disguise, is the first book in the series, and features Kristina, a woman who has spent her life trying to please the men in her life, only to be hurt terribly in return.  Kristina represents a rose trampled by circumstances.

Question: What started you on your writing journey?
I always remember writing; it is a way for me to process something I am going through.  However, in high school, I took a creative writing class.  We had to stand up and share one of our works with the class.  I had written a fictional piece.  Though cloaked in a story, the foundation of the story was very personal in nature.  As I stood up in front of the class, reading my story, I felt naked.  I was baring my deepest imagination to my peers. 
The process of sharing, no matter how frightening, opened up the relationship between reader and writer.  I took my classmates on a ride that day, and to this day, I think of my readers as I write.  And I love hearing how people were touched by my story.  I have readers tell me that they’ve never been through anything close to what Kristina has been through, yet they still found themselves in the story.  It is so humbling to know God is using me to help someone.

Question: What distracts you from writing the easiest? 
My family is my biggest (and best) distraction.  There are many excuses I could come up with to not write.  I would rather be flying around the house with my youngest, pretending we are Disney fairies, or playing a video game with my husband and son, or laying on my oldest daughter’s bed listening to her catalogue the traits of cats.  In the end, I write for my family.  Beside keeping me sane, I feel that writing is one way I am setting an example to my children that God uses us in a variety of ways.  My books are just one of the ways God has called me to live out my faith.

Question: Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
Kristina was the character I related to most.  I spent three years in an abusive relationship, and Kristina was my way of helping others to see that we can find strength in God’s love, no matter what the circumstances.  As I began writing, I thought I had worked through all the emotional mess from my past.  But as I wrote through Kristina, God showed me where I still had trust issues, especially when it relates to Him.  My favorite line from the book is when Nathan tells Kristina, “We tend to be shaped by our outward circumstances…But God wants to come into our hearts and shape us from the inside out.”  No matter where I think I am in my spiritual walk, God is always reshaping my heart. 

Question: What is your strangest habit?
When I’m writing, I often act out something to make sure I described it correctly.  My husband will walk into the office and find me emulating one of my character’s gestures.  After a brief stare, he’ll back out of the office with a smirk on his face. 

Question: What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
If there is a church potluck, my two favorite things to bring are brisket and queso.  My dad is teaching my husband and I how to smoke the brisket.  Until we get this down, we still used Claude’s marinade and slow cook it in the oven.
The queso I also learned to make by watching my dad cook it over the years.  I don’t have a recipe, but if your handy in the kitchen, you’ll probably be able to figure it out.  I use a block of cheddar and a block of Monterrey jack (cubed), about a cup of milk with a tablespoon of flour, and salt and pepper to taste.  Once the cheese is melted and creamy, I add the tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, and sometimes jalapenos.  I sauté the onions, garlic and jalapenos a little before adding them to the cheese mixture. 

Question: Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  
Healing fiction is part of my tagline, because I hope my readers not only find themselves immersed in a great story, but I also hope they find some healing along the way.  The characters in my books go through quite a bit, but I hope my readers can see themselves, if not in the situation, the emotions my characters go through. 

Question: Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?
In the morning, I sneak downstairs before the kids wake up.  I curl up on my couch, my cat comfortably ensconced on my lap, a cup of coffee in one hand, and the iPad in the other.  This is my quiet time routine, and I find that it is just as essential to functioning as my daily cup of coffee is.  Sometimes I go through a Bible reading plan, or work through a devotional.  Sometimes I just pick a book that I know I need to hear. 
When I am facing really troubling times, I always find comfort in the Psalms.  I usually incorporate them in my prayers, often declaring the scriptures to the empty room.  As crazy as my cat thinks I am for shouting, “This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.” (Psalm 91:2 New Living Translation), there is strength to be found in that practice.

Question: Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)  
My favorite Scripture passage is Psalm 40.  Verses two and three are not only a reflection of my life, but the reason I write.
2He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 3He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:2-3 New Living Translation)

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Consider the Thorns is the next book in The Trampled Rose series, and will be released in July, 2013.  Barbara, who you meet in Miracles in Disguise, represents the choked and withered rose, threatened by the weeds she has allowed to grow around her, and the thorns she uses to protect fragile heart.


The final book in the series is tentatively scheduled for a December 2013 release.  I’ll Settle for Love, features Leann, a rose battered by storms.  When push comes to shove, Leann sits down.  But storms threaten to drown her marriage, and she is forced to make a choice. Leann discovers the difference between settling for the storm and striving for the rainbow that
comes after.

Purchase the book at:
Or ask your local library to order it in for you!

Michelle Lynn Brown is giving away a copy of Miracles in Disguise. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Michelle Lynn Brown's Miracles in Disguise

Michelle Lynn Brown is giving away a copy of Miracles in Disguise. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.
Back Cover Blurb:

What do you do when the pain of your past leaves you feeling so unworthy, that any hope of a future crumbles right before your eyes?

Since Kristina Talbot can remember, she’s tried to earn the love of men in her life, only to be hurt in the process. On the heels of her abusive husband’s death, Kristina Talbot leaves New York and heads to New Mexico to try and get her life headed down a new road – one that doesn't include a man.

Even before she reaches her destination, Nathan McKinley sets up a roadblock to her plan. His charming and gentle personality is no match for her love-starved heart. And when Nathan shows her God in a new light, and how to place her trust in Him and not her circumstances, she begins to hope…

When Kristina’s past collides with her present, and tragedy strikes close to Kristina’s heart, her fears and distrust come flooding back, threatening to sweep away her newfound hope. Can Nathan help her hold on to her new relationship with God, or will she allow her dark and troubled past to pluck out the tiny bud of hope that is beginning to blossom within her heart?

Book Excerpt:
Prologue

Kristina heard the rattle of keys in the door, and hurried to put the last of the dinner on the table.  She rotated the meat platter just a hair, tucked the oven mitt in the drawer, smoothed a non-existent wrinkle from her dress, and went to greet her husband.
   She plastered a warm smile on her face, and met David just as he walked in the door.  His steel-gray eyes pierced her, tracking her slightest movement as she came toward him. 
“How was your day, darling?”  She leaned up on her toes to kiss him.  After five years of marriage, she had become an excellent actress. 
   Her stomach flipped-flopped as he pulled off the jacket of his suit, not saying a word.  She could tell it had been a long day; irritation was etched into the lines on his handsome face.  He tossed his suit coat on the back of the couch, and stared down at her with his penetrating stare that never failed to engulf her in fear.
   “I’ve spent the day listening to the welcoming committee argue about what color the visitor cards should be, the financial committee argue how much should be spent on them, and the fellowship committee complain that there is not enough fellowship with the visitors once they receive the cards.”
   The tension left her body as he pulled her close, tucking her head under his chin and wrapping his arms around her.  “My sweet angel,” Kristina felt his words against her hair, “You are the perfect medicine on days like this.”
   David pulled away just enough to gaze down at her, and Kristina remembered when words like these had sounded sweet to her hungry heart.  Tears stung the back of her eyes, and she tried to avert them so he couldn’t see.
   But it didn’t work.
   “Tears?”  His questions were always laced with a threat.
   Tucking her emotions firmly away, she twined her arms around his neck. “After all these years, your love still brings tears to my eyes.  I am so blessed.”
Or cursed!  The thought scurried across her mind, but she wrestled it down.  David could read her so easily. 
   There was a hint of skepticism in his eyes, but he said, “You are my miracle, sent down from Heaven when I needed you most.  Don’t ever forget that.”
   Those words used to thrill her, but the days of longing for the charming, loving and romantic husband of her past were gone.  Now she knew the truth; he never existed.  Those words were spoken to remind her of her place. 
   David took her hand and led her to the dining room.  “Beautiful dinner, as always.”  He reached out and turned the meat platter a hair, looking across the table with a raised eyebrow.
   After he prayed over the meal, he asked, “Did you tell Lisa that you wouldn’t be returning this year?”
“Yes,” she hoped he didn't notice her hesitation.  No matter how vigilant she was, he could still trip her up with a well-timed question or a cold, piercing stare. 
   “You hesitated; is that because you’re lying, or because you have reservations about being obedient to your husband?”
   Get into it, Kristina!  
   “Neither, I’m….I’m just going to miss the girls." 
   She focused on cutting her meat, but she could see that his hands had stilled over his plate.  After a moment’s pause, he threatened, “I hope so.  My sweet angel needs to remember who God sent her to."
   “I loved teaching,” she stressed the past tense of the word, hoping this would ease his mounting anger.
  “Naturally, I am going to miss my students.  But not teaching this year will allow us to have our own children.”
  She searched for something to get him off this track, “I was thinking I could homeschool our children.  What do you think?"
    “I’ll think the matter over,” he said as he pushed away from the table.  Coming to stand behind her, he bent down and brushed his lips on the side of her neck.
  "But first we must conceive these children.”
It took every ounce of control not to shudder as he ran his hands lightly down her arms, “Come with me, my sweet angel.”

   Get into it, Kristina! Just three weeks!

Author Bio
When Michelle Lynn Brown was a teenager, her mother used to take her to used books stores at least once a month. It was there she fell in love with the written word. As a writer, she uses this passion to share with others the joy of having a personal and intimate relationship with Christ.

She is a housewife, mother of three, military spouse, writer, blogger, hopeless romantic, and a cuddly lap for one very large cat. She was born in Dayton, Ohio, but raised in El Paso, Texas. And since she married her husband, the military has blessed her with the opportunity to live in many locations, from Germany to Pennsylvania, where she now resides.


Like the flawed characters that grace her books, she’s had many stumbles and struggles in her life.  God’s grace and mercy through these trials have kept her on her knees.  It is from this humble position that she seeks to minister through her writing – not as someone who has it all figured out, but just someone who has figured out how wonderful and awesome God is.

You can find Michelle at her website, on facebook, and twitter

You may purchase Miracles in Disguise at:
Or ask your local library to order it in for you!



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