An Unlikely Romance Author

Welcome to Janell Wojtowicz, with her debut novel, Embracing Hope. If you’d like to qualify to win an e-book copy, please leave a comment below. 

Embracing_Hope_CoverHow did you chose your genre, Janell?

If someone had told me thirty, twenty, even ten years ago that I would publish a Christian romance novel, I’d have guffawed and rolled my eyes. Puleeease! I’m a serious writer! I’ve reported on the Iowa caucuses, covered a murder in a small town, written fund-raising letters telling true stores of tragedy and triumph, and pitched centennial celebrations to national media.

No way would I write sappy love stories where there are always happy endings—usually with a handsome man on one knee holding a diamond in a little black velvet box—or better yet, a beautiful bride in a princess ball gown floating down the aisle to that handsome man.

Well, crow should be my main course at every meal. In November 2016, my debut Christian contemporary romance novel, “Embracing Hope”, was launched to the masses. I blame it all on a BBC version of “Jane Eyre” in 2007. The night after watching the movie, I dreamt the beginning, middle and ending of what was published nine years later.

When I first started writing the novel, I was hesitant to admit it was a love story, and a few times I got snickers when I told people. After all, they knew me as a journalist/PR professional who wrote about emerald ash borer, mission trips to China, and pig (yes, pig) judging at county fairs. Then I began finding women who said they liked Christian romance. It’s a clean, uplifting genre, they said. They aren’t reluctant to leave the book lying around the house where their daughters and granddaughters might find it and ask to read it. They don’t blush at erotic images or cringe at the foul language.

I’ve learned that there are THOUSANDS of Christian romance authors out there, and it’s a popular and growing book niche with millions of readers. Dare I admit that some of those ardent readers will find my novel sweet and sappy? Probably, after all, there’s a happy wedded-after—except not on bended knee or in a ball gown. My goal is to make readers cry, so keep a tissue handy when you read it. One reviewer told me she got so involved in the plot that she felt the need to pray for the main character! Yet Christian romance has attracted a growing audience because most novels have a message beyond romance. In my case, the message is of hope and forgiveness in the aftermath of tragedy.

I’m still a little hesitant to say I’m a romance novelist. Get over it, Janell! After all, if my brother, a Baptist preacher, feels comfortable telling his congregation that his sister wrote a Christian romance—and read it himself—then I can be comfortable admitting it, too.

My name is Janell Butler Wojtowicz, and I AM a Christian romance novelist!

 Thanks so much. I can relate, because I really didn’t plan on writing fiction, either. We appreciate hearing your story, Janell. 

Janell Butler Wojtowicz 2

Born and raised on an Iowa farm, Janell was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise she spent her entire 30-year career in writing. Much of it has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel. Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters. “Embracing Hope” is her debut novel.

NOVEL SUMMARY

Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring.He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper.

The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

You may reach Janell here:

 Buy Links for Embracing Hope

Preserving A Small Iowa Town’s Cultural Heritage

Yesterday at a book talk in Riceville, Iowa, library director Betsy Morse showed me a local artifact preserved and on display. What a heritage for this small northern Iowa town. Although we live only half an hour away, I was not aware of this tribute to an early Riceville citizen’s foresight.

20170422_153703

The people of Riceville own this curtain, and five more used on the Brown Opera building stage, built after a fire devastated the town in 1901.

Frank A. Brown, livery merchant and hardware owner, added the Riceville community room above his store, and townsfolk enjoyed many events here. These hand-painted stage curtains were installed at some point and the room was decorated with stencil art.

Obviously the library views this work of art with great pride, and rightly so! The carefully preserved pull-down curtains stand as a great example of a small town preserving its artistic and culture heritage.

For views of the other five curtains people enjoyed as backdrops for plays and during intermissions, see the Riceville Public Library website.

A Holiday Toast to “Old” Writers…

20161204_113522_resized

We woke up to the season’s first snow this morning, transforming our grey, early-December Iowa into a wonderland. Today I’m sharing author Jane Kirkpatrick’s November post, because it holds encouragement for “old” writers. Like a fresh snow covering, we have a great deal to offer the world. May her words bless your Christmas stockings off!

Francis Bacon wrote: “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” I present this wisdom as four “old” authors this past month have spoken to me about getting published. They have terrific story ideas, the time and energy to pursue their craft and demonstrated perseverance. What they’ve shared about finding a publisher is astonishing. At one conference, an editor said publishing older authors for the first time is just not cost effective because they “don’t know how to do social media or even what a platform is.”

Of course we know what a platform is. It’s a pair of shoes. No, really, it’s a mission statement, what one is willing to stand behind and for. We older authors have had platforms for years as young people going to war or taking stands against them; about the environment; as parents advocating for kids; as business owners and/or employees working long hours with integrity because we believe in what we’re doing and in the communities we’re doing it in. We know how to create a writing platform, one we can stand on and for, just as we know how to write a story.

More importantly, we bring life experiences to the stories we tell. We know how to create empathy for a character because we’ve shown empathy for others in order to live in community. We know how to give voice to those seldom heard because we’ve been listening for years. And we know how to memorialize, how to write about what matters not only to ourselves but as ways to reach others, most of whom are much younger than we are. Perhaps we can prevent in real life the mistakes that our characters make by telling stories constructed on our platforms.

As for social media…one of my “wise” author friends noted, “We have networks from years of working, contacts made while researching, people excited for us in retirement as we pursue another occupation, that of becoming an author.” We can get thousands of friends and “likes” and Twitter followers. She noted too that while many of us aren’t savvy about social media, we have resources to hire people to help us with the technology required of this writing world. At the very least we have 15-year-old grandkids or nieces and nephews to offer guidance. And because we read and are a part of this fascinating world, we also undertake new challenges with vigor knowing that even old rats, when given new mazes, grow new brain cells. If an old rat can learn new tricks, I can!

With my latest book This Road We Traveled about (in part) a 66-year-old woman who didn’t accept her adult children’s plan for her life and struck out on the Oregon Trail with her own wagon, I’ve become especially sensitive to the passions of age. It was what Tabitha Moffat Brown accomplished after she was 66 years old in 1846 in her adopted state of Oregon that moved the 1987 legislature to name her “The Mother of Oregon.” Many of the historical women I write about came “of age” in what we might call their “old age.”

The Psalmist wrote “The Lord knows my lot. He makes my boundaries fall on pleasant places.” Personally, I think publishers are missing the passion of a great story when they let a border like age define an otherwise very pleasant place. Bring on that old wood, aged wine and trusted friends! And yes, old authors.

Thanks so much, Jane. If you’ve yet to read any of her wonderful historical fiction, now would be a great time for a taste! 

Oh MY!

Tonight when my husband and I returned from a walk at the close of this rainy Iowa day, we were looking up at the roof for some reason, and I spotted something that looked like a bird…sort of. But bigger.

Lance is nothing if he’s not persevering. He hung out until he captured an image of the creature…I can’t believe it! We have cardinals, house wrens, hummingbirds, and of course, crows in our yard. But this…never thought I’d see the like. Not here in our yard.

IMG_3583

Isn’t this the cutest baby owl? I’ve never spied one before, and this one added excitement to a rather gloomy, although productive day here in the Midwest. I’m a lot like my fiction characters, I guess – it doesn’t take a whole lot to make my day.

And this experience also goes to show that you can enjoy someone else’s hobby almost as much as you enjoy your own. Barn owls have made appearances in my historical fiction, and this little one…oh yes, you can bet she (or he) will pop up somewhere in a future story.

Through Raging Waters

This week, I’m delighted to introduce Renee Blare, author of The Snowy River Chronicles. 

RagingWaters copy (683x1024)

Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

Nestled in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains with her husband, crazy dogs and ornery cat, she continues to serve her community as a pharmacist while penning her Christian stories any chance she can get.

Reading some comments about Renee Blare’s novel entices me:

Raging Waters is indeed a wonderful read and I also highly recommend To Soar on Eagle’s Wings. So hurry and catch up—I’m waiting for Book Three! – DiAne Gates, Author of Roped

Once again, Renee Blare has delivered a powerful and suspenseful romantic novel. Readers and lovers of such will not be disappointed at her writing talent. – Carole Brown, Award-winning Author

Book Two of the Snowy Range Chronicles launches July 8, 2016 –  TODAY!! and propels the series upward to new heights. Suspense takes
on new meaning as the small town of Timber Springs faces the storm of the century during the peak of spring runoff. Paul Fitzgerald and Melissa Hampton must fight the battle of their lives as thunder and lightning reveal more than just rain.

If Mother Nature has her way, Timber Springs will never be the same… 

A warm spring and early rainstorms melt the snowpack. Spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin. 
Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread once again.

Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. After she learns of her mysterious beginnings amidst her mother’s keepsakes, she faces more than just the river rushing outside her door. Now, she must discern friend from foe…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she’s ever loved. 

Can two people find each other through raging waters?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/tE055Wyzaso

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Through-Raging-Waters-Renee-Blare-ebook/dp/B01HBSB9BM/
(shortened) http://amzn.to/28NQIF3

Renee is giving away one free kindle copy of her novel to a commenter.

Renee Headshot BH (3)
Renee loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.

Website: http://www.reneeblare.com/
Blog: http://reneeblare.blogspot.com/
Group Blog: http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/

Good morning, sunshine!

A quiet Sunday morning, but after a great rain last night, our plants are grinning all over the porch and deck.

Geraniums garner fresh sunshine . . . the plant on the right has TWELVE blossoms right now.

20160626_091939

Rosemary and basil greet us . . .

20160626_093111

 

Petunias and johnny jump-ups join in.

20160626_092025

Yesterday the first edits for A Purpose True, the sequel to Addie’s story, arrived. A time to pay attention to details, to make things better, to brighten the world around us, and to enjoy the process.

Already, tomato blossoms promise a fruitful summer . . . what more could we ask?

Are all writers Authors?

Carol Parsons has been writing a long time. But what qualifies a writer as an author? Take it away, Carol . . . 

I started writing when my oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 1980. She was 3 years old and I needed answers, but I couldn’t find anything. When I found even the smallest amount of helpful knowledge, I would journal it so I could refer back to it later.

As time passed, we had two more children and decided to homeschool. I couldn’t afford homeschool curriculum, so I rewrote the public school’s lessons to suit our beliefs. Each week we would read library books, and I often thought I could write better, or spin an old story with a creative ending. Mostly, my writing was just for my family. Eventually however, I started writing newsletters for our church, pamphlets for the 700 club crisis line, plays for the church youth group, then employee manuals and such at my different jobs. In the process, I fell in love with writing, and after awhile I couldn’t remember a time I didn’t write.

For years, I had fantasized about writing a “real” book but never thought I could since I wasn’t…You know… A “real author”. As a public speaker I wrote my own materials, and when asked if I had books I laughed it off. So this year I took my materials from my workshops and other events and created e-books for Amazon. I was shocked at how well received they were. The sales started immediately.

Now, with two books and actual readers, I thought “maybe I am an author”. I began reading and learning all aspects from cover designs, editing, marketing, and formatting. I started writing a book that I had started years ago, and set a June 1st deadline for myself. And through the Grace of God that deadline was met.

Today, I want to share with you my book. “Reaching the Mountain Top” is based on Isaiah 40:31, and written for anyone going through a challenge in their life. It shows four promises that God offers as we wait upon Him. I hope you will get the chance to check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Find out more on Amazon.com at; Reaching The Mountain Top

RTMT cover for Kindle Direct at larger size

My other books can be found here” Manic Success

And From Hobby to Business

 My new photo at 375dpiCONNECT WITH CAROL

Website: CraftersCornerCafe.com                               linkedin.com/in/crafterscornercafe

Twitter: twitter.com/CraftersC                                   Facebook: /Carol-L-Parsons-694353317374143/

Amazon: amazon.com/author/cparsons

 

Julie Arduini – The Entangled Series

Welcome, Julie. I’m glad to have you visit, with three posts this week to celebrate your new releases. I’ve always enjoyed your quip about someday surrendering the chocolate. (See below.) Today, I’m looking forward to hearing about Entangled-Surrendering the Past.

EntangledFinal

I’m excited to present the second book in my rebranded Surrendering Time series (formerly Adirondack Surrender Romance).  This is Carla Rowling’s story, Jenna Anderson’s best friend from ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present. In ENTANGLED, Carla’s been handed her dream. She’s able to leave her “pay the bills” job as sheriff and attend cosmetology school. It’s such an extravagant gift Carla feels unworthy, still unable to forgive herself for becoming a mom as a teenager.

Carla struggles with guilt, and leaving her now teenaged son, Noah, as she goes to school. When Noah’s father, Wayne Peterson, moves to town and asks Carla to give him one more chance, she’s torn. Her flannel-wearing, truck driving boyfriend, Will Marshall, has supported her through all the changes. As she tries to excel in beauty school, she deals with fear of Noah making teen choices that are too familiar to her own history. Wayne’s right there, wanting to pick up where they left off in high school. Will doesn’t know Carla’s torment because she hasn’t told him her problems. Will Carla’s choices cause as many entanglements as a bad perm?

ENTANGLED is scheduled for release in May. Look for ENTRUSTED to re release for free (ebook) in the same time frame. Follow Julie Arduini on Amazon, Goodreads, and throughout social media as @Julie Arduini to stay in touch for the latest information.

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the upcoming re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, set for a spring release. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.

profile

Facebook: http://facebook.com/JulieArduini

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JulieArduini

G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JulieArduini/posts

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/JulieArduini

Instagram: http://instagram.com/JulieArduini

Snapchat: @juliearduini

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/JulieArduini

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Arduini/e/B00PBKDRSQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427852247&sr=8-1

Monthly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dCFG

Weekly Sunday’s Surrender and Chocolate: http://eepurl.com/bJ5yHP

 

 

In the Swing of Spring

My baby kale’s peeking through the soil, and volunteer squash plants have emerged around the compost pile. The trees have leafed out, a sure sign that Spring isn’t just flirting with us anymore.

IMG_3456

And inside, I’ve experienced the fruits of my labor: the first box of In Times Like These arrived yesterday, on our thirty-eighth anniversary. This young World War II farm wife’s story has been long in the writing, and holding the finished creation brings undeniable satisfaction.

IMG_4764

 

Beside me on the wall hangs Emily Dickinson’s HOPE, which fits in with this season. It’s great to witness new birth all around us with our backyard cardinals, a multitude of robins, and flowers budding. We’ve even had our first butterfly visit. IMG_4839

 

I’ve always liked the way Proverbs puts it: “…the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.” Sigh….winter is gone for good. Welcome back, Spring, and welcome to the world, Addie!

I’ll keep you updated on our flowers, and for more information on In Times LIke These, see the previous post, MY BOOKS, or go here: http://amzn.to/1VFEoYh

Ill-fitting, or fit for our work?

Every summer, I take some of my plants outdoors. In early March, I noticed something else growing out of one of those pots, a totally “other” plant. But something told me to let it grow, and it’s since flourished in the sunshine of our south dining room windows. Kind of hard to pull up a specimen that wants to grow so badly.

20160328_135537_resized

Yes, it’s an oak tree in a jade world.

But it doesn’t belong, right? Well, years ago, I felt like I didn’t, either. Since I’m kind of a gregarious personality type, it really didn’t bother me too much, but every once in a while, I’d sense that outsider feeling. Since we’ve moved quite a few times, I usually attributed the situation to being new.

Then I read The Cloister Walk  by Kathleen Norris. It’s one of those books I’ve read more than once, but the first time through, this author encouraged me SO much by helping me understand myself better. I don’t have the exact quote, but it went something like, “As writers, our job is to record/report what we see. That means we often stand outside an event, a circumstance, or a place and look in. Then we report on what we see.”

Wow – a puzzle piece slipped into place. Today I met a bunch of Iowa writers at the Ankeny Book Fair. Spending time with them heartened me, as our far-north locale doesn’t produce tons of writer-types. And we are a type!

So I’d like to say thank you to Joy King, who planned the fair and also to the many writers there who encouraged me today. Hope to see you again somewhere in Iowa!