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