This is an interview with a new online friend of mine: Michelle Lynn Brown, author of the contemporary inspirational romance novel Miracles in Disguise.


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.
Back Cover Blurb from Miracles in Disguise:
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
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 lovedteaching,” 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!
Click here to view or buy Miracles in Disguise in eBook or print format on Amazon.

Interview Questions and Answers:
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. 
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.
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.
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. 
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. 
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 use 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. 
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. 
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.

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.

How to contact Michelle Lynn Brown: 

Email: [email protected]

 End of Our Journey 

At The End Of Our Journey By: JACK R EAST JR


About the Book

At the End of Our Journey is a personal testimony of the life and Christian faith of the author. The inspiration for the book came from two incredible and powerful dreams about Jack’s Christian faith. The dreams were experienced in November of 2010 on two consecutive mornings. Jack awoke from both dreams with precise and detailed memories of the events and emotions felt during the dreams. He can recall all of the events of both dreams two years later. To be able to remember all of the details of both dreams is very unusual for him and for most other dreamers. The two dreams did not reveal anything new about his Christian faith. The first dream expressed all of the doubts, fears, and questions that all followers of the Christian faith have asked themselves many times. The second dream was a direct confirmation from God that all of the promises of the Christian faith are true and will happen for all who believe in Christ’s redemption and follow his teachings. Words cannot adequately describe the events and emotions of the second dream. The author has difficulty finding words to describe the emotions experienced in his dreams, but he can share the following conclusions about his dreams and the Christian faith with you.

He experienced the finality of knowing that he had died. He knew the joy of knowing that his Christian faith allowed him to conquer death. He felt hope and joy to know that his spirit had conquered death and was rising into Heaven.

He was overcome with joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment, and the sure knowledge that the only place he could possibly be was in Heaven. No other place could feel so good and right. He cannot adequately describe how it felt to know that God was there to welcome him to Heaven where he heard his powerful and loving voice say to him,

“Jack, I am glad you are here, I have been waiting for you.”

How could he describe hearing God’s welcome end with the following words…

“but, I am not ready for you yet.”

At the End of Our Journey is Jack’s attempt to share with you the wonderful experience of his life, dreams, and Christian faith. His wish is that you may also know the joy of the personal presence of God in your life and feel the full depth and beauty of His powerful love. And that you may receive a taste of what awaits for us at the end of our journey of Christian faith.

Get the PAPERBACK on Amazon!

Jack East 

Jack was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September of 1940. In 1945 his family moved to Southern California where he lived for 30 years. He started his journey of Christian faith in 1956 at the age of sixteen. Jack married his wife Barbara in 1961 and their marriage has lasted for over fifty years. Jack started his career as a CPA, and he and Barbara started their family while living in Southern California. Jack and Barbara moved to the far north coast of California in 1975. Jack continued to work at his accounting and tax practice as he and Barbara raised a family of three great sons. Their boys and their spouses have provided them with four precious grand children. Both family and the Christian faith have always been important parts of the life of Jack and Barbara. At age 72, Jack is still working at his accounting and income tax practice with Barbara’s help. Retirement is under consideration, but it is not their greatest priority at this time. In November of 2010 Jack experienced two incredible dreams about his Christian faith. The dreams were the inspiration for writing a book and for this website. The dreams have started a new chapter in the life and Christian faith of Jack R. East, Jr. at age 72.

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I just finished reading a book called The Slayer and the Sphinx, a young adult fantasy by author Adam Bolander.  It features several races of “Mythics” (fantasy creatures) who secretly inhabit our own world but are shunned, feared, or persecuted by humans.  Porter, a teenage boy, is a “slayer” whose job is to hunt down and kill Mythics.  Sarah, a young sphinx, is one of his targets.  But things go wrong when he attacks her home; he is injured and ends up with amnesia, forgetting his mission and his own identity.  Sarah and Porter end up lost in a forest together, forced to rely on each other for survival as they try to find their way out.  Along the way, they meet other Mythics and encounter a variety of dangers.  The story ends before Porter regains his memory or the two (plus friends they’ve made along the way) reach their destination, so readers will be forced to read the sequel (which is not yet available) to find out what happens.

All in all, this was an interesting story.  The author had some great ideas, and I felt that he fleshed out the characters pretty well.  Each particular race of Mythics was given distinct traits and a unique culture, which made me interested to meet more of them.  Some creative concepts were presented, my favorite being a sentient sword that could communicate with its master.

I did feel, however, that parts of the story could have been fleshed out better.  The settings were very narrowly described, so that I never got a clear picture of what the larger world was like or even what part of the world the story takes place in.  Some issues were a little unclear, such as why Sarah’s parents said it was too dangerous for her to accompany them on a direct trip (using teleportation) to one of the safest havens in the world for Mythics; why someone who had just met Porter would give him a rare and valuable weapon; why and how a few animals can talk but not others; how the rules of magic use among humans work, etc.  Certain character actions and reactions seemed a little unrealistic (for example, if I had seen someone I’d known all my life beheaded, I would have responded with a lot more grief, terror, and anger; and I would have kept recalling and probably having nightmares about the event).  Also, I found a number of typos and errors in grammar and punctuation in the book.  (Hey, I’m a teacher; I can’t help but notice these things!)

Overall, though, The Slayer and the Sphinx was an enjoyable book.  I would give it three out of five stars and recommend it to teens, preteens, or kids (it’s pretty easy to read) who like fantasy.  If it had a rating, it would probably be PG for mild violence and “children in jeopardy”.  There was no profanity, sex, or unnecessary blood and guts in the fighting scenes.  The book promoted positive moral values like trust, loyalty, and the concept that no matter a person’s past, anyone can change and start a new life.  

Click here to view The Slayer and the Sphinx or buy a copy on Amazon.  If you enjoy the fantasy genre, I’d say it’s worth the 99 cents the eBook will cost you.  Happy reading!

We’re back in California for the summer! Here are some of the things that have stood out to Floyd and me in the last few days since we’ve returned to the States:

Wow, everything is so much more expensive than it was last summer. The price of gas is horrifying!

Look at all the sidewalks everywhere! Why aren’t there cars parked all over them?

There’s so much sky visible (because all the buildings are so short)!

It’s so quiet here. Sometimes at night we can’t hear a single sound.  Where are all the singing trash trucks and screeching birds?

Speaking of trash trucks, they’re all so quiet and boring. Why don’t they play Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”  and “The Maiden’s Prayer” loudly enough to be heard for blocks away while everyone in the neighborhood comes running out with bags of trash?
Most of the streets have only cars on them. Where are all the motorized scooters and wandering dogs?

Speaking of dogs, all the ones we’ve seen here are naked! (See my post about Taiwanese dogs here.)

Speaking of cars, why are they so HUGE?

Why are there so few vegetables on the menus at restaurants?

So many people speak English. It’s weird to understand what’s being said around us all the time, and to actually be able to read all the billboards and street signs.

There are so many white-skinned people here!  When I catch a glimpse of one, I keep finding myself taking a closer look to see if I know them.

How does everyone manage without a 7-Eleven on every corner?

Where can we get REAL Chinese food????

Today Floyd and I traveled to the city of Lukang (pronounced “loo-gahng”), about an hour’s drive south of here, to attend their annual Dragon Boat Festival celebration.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I first heard of the holiday six years ago, but we’ve usually already been in the States for the summer by the time.  But since it’s based on the lunar calendar, the exact date of Dragon Boat Festival varies from year to year, and this year we’re staying in Taiwan a little later than usual.  As a result, this time we were able to be here for it!  

Some would say we were crazy to do something like this the day before flying out, but we purposely got ahead on our packing and cleaning, and it worked out just fine.

Click here to read more about Dragon Boat Festival, how it’s celebrated in the Chinese world, and how the holiday got its origin.

There was a lot more going on than just the boat races.  The whole area was set up like a night market, with games and activities and stands offering a variety of foods.  In the picture above, they’re selling cooked quail eggs on a stick.  (I bought a stickful – they were tasty with a little soy sauce!)

These are different kinds of fancy corn dogs.  To the very left, beyond the  multiple-scoop ice cream cones, were some interesting colorful drinks that must have contained dry ice, due to the “smoke” that came pouring out the straws.

 There were a lot of different drink options, too, which was a good thing since it was an extremely hot day.  I’m not sure what was in those cups – I asked the lady, and she told me, but I didn’t know the Chinese words she used.  In the glass bowl were what looked like stewed fruits that she was scooping into each cup.  I might have tried one if I hadn’t already been sipping something different – a green apple flavored milky drink that would have tasted a lot better if it had stayed cold longer.

This was another way to beat the heat!  Those teenagers were having a lot of fun in this bounce house/giant wading pool.  I was tempted to jump in with them!

More fun for kids!  (Notice the Oppa Gangnam Style balloons?!)  Below: more adults were interested in the gorgeous hand painted lanterns and dragon-themed art for sale at this booth.

While people browsed the booths and ordered food and gift items, dragon boat races were going on in the background the whole time.  Two boats would race each other and then get towed back to the starting point, and then two more, and so on.  The guys at the back were using rudders to steer, and there was always a drummer at the front beating the rhythm so all the rowers would stay in sync.

When they got near the finish line, the people you see at the very front would balance on their tummies on the dragon’s head and lean way out to reach for a little floating flag on a buoy.  They would grab the flag and toss it in the air to show that their boat had finished the race.

Click here to watch a short video I took of part of one of the races.

Well, I’ve experienced my first Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan.  That’s one more thing I can cross off my Bucket List!  Now to discover if any place around here is actually open for dinner, and then finish the last of the laundry and packing.  California, here we come!

This post is part of a blog hop.  To enter your own blog in the hop, find out more, or take a look at other people’s featured blog posts, click here.

Winter’s Past (2nd Chance Series) By Mary E Hanks


About the Book:

Ty wants to make things right. Winter can’t forget their past. Winter Cowan is scheduled to speak in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A city she’s avoided for ten years because of Ty Williams, her ex-husband. But what are the chances of Ty showing up in church? And didn’t she already forgive him? Even though he broke her heart and ruined their short, six-month marriage? She had to forgive him to go on with her life. To preach the gospel. To share God’s love across the nation. Then, like a tidal wave, the word “Forgive” crashes over the worn sands of her past. Winter realizes her heart does still rip a little each time she remembers what Ty did to their marriage. To her. And just as she feared, Ty shows up at the meetings in Coeur d’Alene. Only this man is someone she wouldn’t recognize if she saw him on the street. He’s older, sure, but he’s…different. Radically changed from the guy she once knew, he stands before her in a prayer line, crying—crying!—and humbly asks her forgiveness. This man who broke her heart, betrayed her, is now gut-wrenchingly sincere in his apology, prays for her like a long-lost friend, tenderly reaches into the forgotten places of her heart, and he has a request. One unbelievable request that could change everything…

Download on Kindle | Purchase Paperback

Mary E Hanks

Mary E Hanks is an author of 2nd chance stories and a playwright/director for youth theater. When she’s not writing novels, she’s usually working on a play. She loves encouraging young people to share their talents, and an added bonus is getting to “see” her words brought to life onstage. At present, she’s directing her 24th production. Mary served as a pastor’s wife in Alaska and also worked in Christian education for many years. She and Jason have been married for 37 years and have raised four children. They now live in the country near Blanchard, Idaho, a place where deer and wild turkeys play in their front yard. A romantic at heart, Mary believes we all need a 2nd chance sometime.
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As we prepare to leave Taiwan for another summer in the States, here are some pictures of our neighborhood here in Taichung.    
The Morrison community calls it “the Village” even though it’s part of a rather large city. 
Apparently old-timers remember the days when this area really was a village some distance from the rest of Taichung.
Interestingly enough, I suppose most of these photos do make it look somewhat rural.
I pass these geese that live in the betel nut grove every week on my way to the Shui Nan Market.

Alas, some of these sights are to be seen no longer.  The construction in our neighborhood is changing things fast!
I’m going to miss the Village this summer!