3 Questions Wednesday with Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Author Janell Butler Wojtowicz is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also showcasing her debut novel, Embracing Hope. Now for her first question…

What inspires you?

Janell: Walking – I’ve been walking 3-4 miles 4-5 times a week for years. It takes about an hour, so it gives me quiet time to think and “write.” I’ve created dialogues, developed scenes, and advanced the plot while wandering my neighborhood. The dialoging lets me get inside the characters’ heads more than on the computer screen or in hand-written notes. Sometimes I’ve dialogued out loud, so I hope people think I’m talking to someone using a hands-free phone. I’ve also developed the backstories as the plot progressed.

For example, in one scene of “Embracing Hope” the main character is so despondent and nearly suicidal while driving alone at night that he pulls over and calls his friend to come 50 miles to rescue him. The next scene his friend is calling a psychologist for additional help. On several walks, I put together the specifics of how the “rescue” transpired. At times I wanted to include the scene, but felt it would give away too much and make the manuscript too long. But it helped me shape the next scene, and I think it lets the reader fill in the blanks their own way.

Hmm. Walking. Maybe something I need to try. Now…

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Janell: Multi-colored. Have you ever seen those ballpoint pens that have three or four colors of ink in one barrel? (black, blue, red, green) I had a three-ink pen when I was in college. It came in handy for redlining books and taking notes. I would have liked a yellow highlighter included. The colors reflect my roles: black for author, blue for family, green for making money through my freelance work, and the highlighter would be my brighter, transparent side.

I used to have one of those pens.  🙂

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Janell: I didn’t think about it much in my early elementary school years: perhaps a farmer’s wife or teacher, like my mother. By junior high I leaned toward writing, as cliché as it is for an author. I enjoyed writing book reports and essays for literature, history, and social studies classes. I didn’t like the tedium of research papers, but when I look back, the organizational aspect played out in my career as I’m one of those concrete sequential types. I liked writing letters to people, even the Christmas and birthday thank-you notes. It made sense to study journalism in college where I was the editor of the student newspaper. Since then my entire career has been writing for newspapers, higher education PR, local government public information and now, novels.

So glad you could stop in, Janell!

Janell is graciously offering a Kindle copy of her novel, Embracing Hope, to one person who leaves a reply in the comment section.

Embracing Hope

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?


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. It’s no surprise that she has 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.

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