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. 

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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

Faith – It’s EVERYWHERE, it’s EVERYWHERE!!

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These tracks go somewhere. Just because we can’t see their destination doesn’t mean they don’t have one.

Similarly, people may say they don’t believe, but often suspend rationality. This is true in the internet world. For example, I replied to a FaceBook message from a woman I’ve never personally met. Her page cited her as a writer, so I asked what she wrote.

She sent a message: Nothing. I know I ought to be writing, but something in me keeps me from taking action. I don’t know if it’s fear of failure, or what, but my so-called writing is nonexistent at this point.

My reply: I’m a born cheerleader for people who have even one iota of an inkling that they’d like to write. I mentioned that I’d put off my desire to write for many years, so could relate to her situation.

Later, she let me know that she rarely checks her FB messages, and received mine by some fluke in the system that had never occurred before. (Do you get the picture that I’m no pro at using these tools?) Anyway, I answered that I’m not so hot at FB, either, and gave her my e-mail address.

Within an hour, another message came from her, saying she’d received that message from me in a text. Go figure. I don’t even know her phone number. Maybe there’s a logical explanation, but my reply works for me:

Well, I’d say maybe we’re meant to continue our conversation, and that some other power besides Google must be in charge of the airwaves.

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The more I think about it, seems that Internet users exhibit raw faith. We trust this manmade technical tool will work. We trust these messages we send, unseen yet real, will reach their destination. And we trust that malevolent hackers won’t interfere and send our lives into a tailspin.

Our belief is a kind of “knowing,” like the assurance that leaves turn fiery orange in autumn. But there’s really more evidence for the latter–we’ve seen it happen year after year.

Faith manifests in many modern arenas, though naysayers deny the facts. But this internet one escaped my notice so far. When I complete this article, I’ll edit it a few times and eventually post it or send it to some other blogger who’s invited me to visit. Their blog—tangible in one sense, highly intangible in another.

It’s all about tuning into the right address, calling up the blog’s presence, and embracing its power to aid communication. Kind of like another unseen, but totally real presence.

Reminds me of the excitement I feel today as my debut novel wends its way from New York. I trusted that it would be published, and now, that it’s been mailed. Seeing it for real will confirm what I’ve believed, and also be pure FUN! Of course, then I need to trust that readers will come … if you write it, readers will come.

Yes, readers will come, just like winter will. And they’ll fall in love with my heroine, and …

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My Debut Women’s Fiction is Releasing Soon!

Yesterday I received the official release date from The Wild Rose Press for my debut novel, In This Together. Here’s the cover – I guess you can see I’m excited. 

Wild Rose publishes romance of every kind, so you should know right off that mine is classified SUPER SWEET … in other words, it’s a lovely midwest World War II era story that won’t even make you blush.

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Probably every author dreams of readers falling in love with their main characters, and I’m no exception. Dottie Kyle, my heroine, would be great company along life’s journey.

She’s forthright, a hard worker, and slugging her way through losing her son in WWII without self-pity. Her husband died just after the war, too, so she took a job at a boarding house in their small midwestern town. This gives her a reason to get up in the morning.

She enjoys providing nutritious meals for the male boarders, who keep to themselves. But challenges arrive with a new employee, and true-blue Dottie tolerates the situation. Eventually though, her employer’s nasty behavior tweaks Dottie’s sense of justice and she’s forced to speak up.

At the same time, widower neighbor Al, husband of the best friend Dottie lost to cancer some years back, starts paying sudden attention to Dottie. She’s surprised to find she actually enjoys his company, and shares more of her feelings with him than she’d ever imagined.

Then, Dottie’s daughter Cora in California needs her desperately during a frightening turn in her third pregnancy. Will her longing to meet the two grand- babies whose voices she hears over the crackly telephone line be enough to overcome her debilitating fear of enclosed spaces … i.e., the train trip necessary to facilitate this meeting?

Or will she accept help from someone desiring with all his heart to share life with Dottie?

So, to all those I’ve met in the  past few years–my friends at the Cedar Falls Writers Conference, author and editor colleagues far and wide, and my friends and family, thank you for your encouragement and patience. The road to publication may have been loooong, but it did take me to the desired destination.

And I hope you enjoy Dottie as much as I do. She’s quite a gal!

Oh, I seem to have forgotten one important fact: the release date is November 18, 2015. Can you see I need all the help I can get with promotion?!?!