Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Good morning, lovely people! Welcome to another post with Women of Faith and Fiction! I don’t know about you, but I’ve enjoyed learning more about the women behind the books. And this morning we have another great story! Author Janell Butler Wojtowicz is with us. Let’s show Janell some love, shall we?

029Good morning, Janell. Thank you for visiting with us. Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up on an Iowa farm surrounded by corn, soybean and hay in the fields, and cattle and pigs in the farmyard. And lots and lots of cats in the barn. Pigs literally put me through college at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota. Many times when I called Dad for a tuition payment, he’d tell me he’d send it when the next load of pigs went to market.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in written communication, I returned to Iowa where I was a reporter/editor at three small town newspapers for 10 years. I met my husband, Frank, a friend of my family living in Minneapolis, and became a city girl. (By the way, my Polish last name is pronounced “Why-tow-vitch.) Over the next 18 years, I’ve worked in public relations at my alma mater; Leadership Foundations, a nonprofit organization supporting inner-city Christian ministries; and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. My freelance business, A Portrait in Words, offers writing and editing services.

Frank and I live in New Brighton, Minnesota, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. I have two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law, and three step-granddaughters.

Sounds like a wonderful life, Janell. Thank you for sharing the story about your dad. He sounds like a hard working man who loves his family. Now that I know how to pronounce your name, it isn’t that hard at all! J

This month’s theme is goodness, Janell. Would you please share your thoughts with our readers.

I don’t know about y’all, but I get dismayed, frustrated and even fearful by the news that saturates every second of our lives. I try to tune it out with reading anything but the news, and listen to uplifting Christian music, my favorites being “Even So Come” and “Who Am I?” This month’s blog forced me to look for goodness. And the goodness was easy to find.

My husband and I live in a condo with many seniors. Our neighbors look after each other, whether it’s a welfare check during a power outage or jump-starting a dead car battery. This summer, in prep for the annual underground garage cleaning, one owner took it upon himself to clean the parking spaces of several seniors, for free. He endured heat, humidity and almost no air movement with a smile on his face the entire time.

My mother’s small Iowa community came together to support her pastor’s family whose nine-year-old son endured a year-long series of chemotherapy. It didn’t matter what church people attended or where they lived; all that mattered was the family needed help and encouragement, which was plentiful.

The most outstanding example of goodness I’ve seen recently has been bestowed on my cousin, Denise, who has Multiple Sclerosis. She’s always been an optimistic person whose heart exemplifies goodness. Even as the MS has progressed and Denise endures treatments and physical therapy, she sees the good in life and gives God the praise. Now, she’s experiencing goodness from others who have come by her side through transportation to appointments, storming the gates of heaven with prayer, and now a fund-raising event to help finance leg aids to keep her mobile. All this reassures me that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is goodness.

“I (Paul) myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness …” Romans 15:14

Wow, Janell. Thank you for sharing all that goodness with us this morning. I’m sure there are some who really needs to hear a little good news. Now, for the next part of this interview. We all know, this life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to do good for others? How did you overcome?

In 2010, I lost my job and threw myself into finding another full-time. The job search became an all-encompassing, all-consuming, energy-depleting, and ultimately, unsuccessful battle that crushed my spirit. But now, almost seven years later, I see how God has scripted what I admit was the worst time in my life.

My job search shifted to freelance work as God shifted my priorities. Freelance gave me the time and practical means to help others, especially my family. Armed with my laptop, smart phone, and a Wi-Fi connection, I can work practically anywhere. When my widowed mother, who lives three hours away, fell and broke her ankle, I was available to help with her in-home care. My husband’s chronic back problems required doctor appointments and procedures. I also nursed him back to health after hip replacement surgery. My step-son and family moved 10 hours away and we were able to help. I remember well the weekend during their relocation when I sat in a St. Louis, MO, hotel lobby with my laptop connected to Wi-Fi working on a project for a client in Minneapolis. All that would not have been possible had I been working full-time. Sure, my income isn’t nearly what it used to be, but I’ve trusted God to provide and, so far He’s come through—God is good!

Woohoo! God is good!  So tell us more about your writing. In what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

I write contemporary Christian romance. When it comes to fiction, I could never write anything other than the Christian story of redemption and grace. It’s in my spiritual DNA.

Most of my 35-year-career has been in journalism and public relations. The first 10 years were in community journalism. While I was able to interject my faith in columns, for the most part it was secular writing. I then spent 12 years at a Christian college where my job was all about writing faith-based articles and features about students, faculty and alumni. One of my monthly tasks was to write the formal thank you note to donors. Instead of finding it tedious, I relished searching the Bible for nuggets of thankfulness and encouragement for those letters—and there was a gold mine of nuggets!

I dearly missed that faith aspect of writing when I worked in local government. I believe that void is what fed development of “Embracing Hope.” When I started out, it was a Christian love story. When it was finished it was a story of hope—not just the sitting-around-waiting, wishful thinking hope, but the tangible hope found through forgiveness, faith in what seems impossible, and courage in tragedy.

I love stories of hope! Janell, thank you so much for being here with us today. And thank you for sharing your life with us. I hope you write many more stories of hope and forgiveness!

Embracing Hope Blurb
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?

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Share The Love – March

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Hebrews 6:18-19

Good morning, dear reader! We have been talking about hope this month. I pray the posts and posters have encouraged you to move ahead in your walk. Remember, we are never without hope. Jesus is our Hope.

Last week, I began a new series called Women of Faith and Fiction. Lynnette did a wonderful job sharing her heart. Your comments and responses on social media blessed me. Thank you for your participation.

To choose the winner of our giveaway, I assigned numbers in the order of comments, and then Random.org chose the lucky number. Drum roll, please…

And the winner of Not A Sparrow Falls is…Tori Kayson! ❤

Be sure to check out this month’s Share the Love. Alert: If you are on a diet or planning to go on a diet forget the Dulce Leche link! Just the pictures will make you gain weight. 🙂 Oh, my!

Reading

Grace Awards – And…the Grace Awards 2016 Finalists are…
Reading Is My Superpower – For Love and Honor – Jody Hedlund
Faithfully Bookish – Sandra Byrd Interview

Writing

Novel Rocket – First Feedback – Allen Arnold
Suite T – You Might Be A Writer If – Patricia Bradley
Seriously Write – Do You Want Sales…or Readers? – Marie Wells Coutu

Inspirational

The Seekers – The Payoff of Perseverance – Jill Weatherholt
Jerusha Agen – Fear Colored Glasses – Jerusha Agen
Novel Rocket – A Pruning Process – Marcia Lee Laycock

Foodie

Shugary Sweets – Copycat Panera Broccoli Soup
Laura Frantz – My Kentucky Kitchen – Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
My Colombian Recipes – Colombian Dulce de Leche Pastry

Music

Danny Gokey – Hope In Front Of Me

Women of Faith and Fiction – Lynnette Bonner

Good morning, dearest reader! I’m excited to start a new series I’ve titled Women of Faith and Fiction.

I don’t know about you, but I love to know the story behind the story or song. If I know the heart of the writer, I’m more likely to read or sing their story. I hope you will join me on the third Tuesday of each month to find out more about the authors who weave truth in the parables they write.

Let’s get started, shall we?

This morning I have the privilege to welcome author and cover designer, Lynnette Bonner. Lynnette has written a slew of books you can find here: Amazon Author Page

Thank you for joining us this morning, Lynnette! Tell us a little about yourself.

Lynnette BonnerI am the daughter of missionaries to Africa, so I was born and raised in the small country of Malawi, without electricity or TV. I was a reader from my very early years. I loved to immerse myself in the story and sometimes wouldn’t reemerge for hours. Eventually, my love of story turned the bend to me beginning to pen my own stories. I would read a book and think “it could have been so much better if they’d done it this way.” I started several books but never finished one until I was doing some research about the town I lived in at the time and found some fascinating facts from history that I knew had to be told. That research turned into my first published novel, Rocky Mountain Oasis. Find out more here

Wow! Malawi. Sounds like you had an exciting childhood! This month’s theme is hope. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Hope is the heart of the good news Jesus came to earth to share with us. We are hopeless without Him. But with Him, there is nothing we can’t overcome. We can even rejoice when we are suffering because we know that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

Yes! Loved that. Life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to hope?

Oh, for sure. As a Christian mom, I’ve always told my kids, I don’t care what they “become” (as in do for a job/living), I just want them to serve the Lord, because I know that’s the only way they will ever find true happiness. I have one son in particular who challenged that hope of mine for several years. It was very hard to see the end of that tunnel. My heart hurt day after day after day. I fasted one day a week for him and cried out to God daily for his soul. One day as I was praying the Lord impressed on me this question, “Even if he never repents and serves me what will YOU do?” My knees nearly buckled. I knew my answer. “I will always serve you, Lord, even if those closest to me never decide the journey is worth it.” A great burden was lifted from me that day. God was reminding me that my hope was in Him, not in anything I could do to convince my son that faith was the best way to walk. I was able to release a little of my worry and anxiety, and trust that God loved that boy even more than I ever could. (And I’m happy to say all these years later that my son made it out the other side of that dark path, and is now starting on his own faith journey.)

Thank you for sharing that testimony with us. I’m sure it touched hearts, today. Now, tell us in what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

All of my writing is in the Christian Fiction genre, except for one devotional that my husband and I wrote together. Faith, for me, is actually a very big part of why I write. Jesus used stories to make points to those listening to him. I hope to bring His light into the world with each story I write. Each of my stories has a spiritual message in it, that I hope encourages the readers on their own faith journeys.

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Your faith shines through in every story, Lynnette. I love the way you incorporate scriptures throughout your books. Not in a preachy way, but through the lives of your characters as they face the everyday struggles of life.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Lynnette’s latest book, Not A Sparrow Falls!!

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Click here to purchase paperback.

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