About the Book
Take a poignant look into the broken heart and daily struggles of Christian college dean, Drew McKinley. The story chronicles the turbulent first year in his desperate journey to understand God’s motives for the sudden death of his wife and his quest to find hope in his future.
Crossing his perilous path are Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office, and Chris, the handsome but egotistical student senate president.
The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, 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?
Check out Embracing Hope Chapter 1!!!
About the Author
Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She wrote stories for her own enjoyment, including a short story about a teenage drug addict—something of which she knew nothing about. Her cousin illustrated the cover using Halloween orange paper featuring a hypodermic needle.
Janell attended the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning a bachelor’s degree in, naturally, Written Communication, adding a Journalism Emphasis. She returned to Iowa where she worked as a reporter/editor at three small town newspapers for 10 years.
Janell left the small town Iowa life when she married, Frank Wojtowicz, a family friend who lived in Minneapolis. (By the way, her Polish last name is pronounced “Why-tow-vitch.) She worked in public relations at her alma mater, the University of Northwestern; Leadership Foundations, a nonprofit organization supporting inner-city Christian ministries; and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Today, Janell owns a freelance service, A Portrait in Words, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.
Much of Janell’s writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, Embracing Hope. The idea for the novel came after watching a BBC version of Jane Eyre in 2007. That night she dreamed the beginning, pivotal scene in the middle and the ending of Embracing Hope, and began writing it the next day. Unlike her first story, she was very familiar with the setting of Embracing Hope: a Christian college campus.
She and Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law, and three step-granddaughters.
Janell is on Social Media!
Want to Purchase a Copy of Embracing Hope? Click on the links below:
I am so pleased to be a part of this blog tour! I really love this book so much. To read my full review of this excellent novel, click HERE. And, I hope you will enjoy my interview with Janell Butler Wojtowicz. Thank you, Janell, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I appreciate you!
- What inspired you to write Embracing Hope?
I attended a Christian college in Minnesota and later spent 12 years in the PR department there. It was home for me in many ways: I could walk the campus blindfolded, knew its 100-year history, academic culture, and 75 percent of the faculty and staff. I was the primary PR writer so I wrote for the college magazine, fund-raising collateral, news releases, etc. Most were based on “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph.
I left needing a change and worked with a nonprofit that facilitated inner-city ministries, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. My writing for the Park Board focused on such topics as emerald ash borer killing trees, milfoil running amuck in lakes, park development master plans and Board (bored) meetings heavy on Robert’s Rules of Order.
Apparently, my soul could no longer hold in the creative writing because after watching a BBC version of Jane Eyre on TV one night I dreamed the beginning, pivotal middle scene, and ending—all taking place on a college campus—of what would be Embracing Hope. I began writing it the next day in October 2007.
I went out of my way to make sure there were no characters who resembled anyone at the real college. The negative issues that the fictional college faced did not happen at the real college. However, the name of the university is in homage to the founder of the actual college. And there are a couple of minor similar elements: the fast-food eatery in the student center and a gazebo. Otherwise, I built the campus in my mind (and a rough drawing on paper) and gave literary birth to the people at the college.
- While writing Embracing Hope, did you run into any snags? If so, what did you do to overcome the problem or hold-up?
I put the manuscript on the shelf a few times due to life getting in the way. Or I’d get bored with it and would work on sequels for a change of pace. It was a relief when I did that because I didn’t have to work on pitching it to publishers/agents, which was no fun and discouraging. Whenever life slowed down, I tinkered with the manuscript, just enjoying the writing and editing. It took the sudden death of my literary cheerleader to kick me in the pants to actively pursue publishing. He had hounded me for years to keep writing and get it published. So I got serious, in his memory, and a year later had a publisher. I figure he was my heavenly advocate.
- What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Creating the characters: their personalities, physical features, childhoods, problems, dreams, quirks, what they wear, what they eat. I can picture them in a restaurant at the next table. I go to a store and they’re looking through the clothes racks. I see them in their offices, homes, cars. I become them eventually. (Call the shrink!)
- How do you balance all of the hats you wear every day?
To be honest, I don’t balance them very well and would like to fling a few out the door. I work freelance out of my home office, and I usually put in six hours either working with client projects or book marketing. I TRY to take care of social media (book and personal) first thing in the morning, over the noon hour, before I fix supper, and around 8 p.m. Client projects are priority since they bring in the money. When I’m between projects I focus on the book thing. Most evenings I work on the book, which is how I wrote it those first couple of years when I was employed fulltime. Weekends are usually my break from freelance work so I spend more time on the book.
- If you could invite any three authors – past or present – to dinner, who would it be and why?
- Jane Austen – I’d delve into the loves of her life and what her dreams were as she wrote her novels. Details of her personal life are precious few, but I believe she was a complex woman, just like her characters.
- Jerry Jenkins (living) and Tim LaHaye (deceased) – I’d tickle their brains about the Left Behind series; how they created such legendary works of prophetic fiction.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder – I’d get the adult version of her parents’ pioneering journey (unlike the watered-down version for children), especially what the Long Winter was really like.
- What are your go-to Christmas reads?
- A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
- A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition (Charles Schulz)
- Country Christmas: As Remembered by a Former Kid (Bob Artley)
- Coffee or Tea or Something Else? What is your go-to wintertime comfort drink?
I’m one of the 25 people in the world who doesn’t drink coffee or tea. Give me a diet cherry Pepsi and I’m content. During the holidays, hot apple cider or cocoa work, but only if they’re cool enough so they don’t burn my tongue!
To help promote Janell’s fabulous novel, R&R Book Tours is giving away one (1) eBook copy of Embracing Hope. Click the link below to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway.
Embracing Hope Rafflecopter Link
And, check out my Giveaway page. I have one (1) paperback copy of Embracing Hope to give away as well. It is listed under Book Giveaway #5. ***Please Note: My giveaway is open to Continental U.S. mailing addresses only.***