3 Questions Wednesday with Susan Holt Simpson

Susan Holt Simpson

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday, Susan Holt Simpson.

Susan Holt Simpson is a freelance writer who lives in Kentucky with her husband and three grown sons. When she’s not writing, she’s probably in the garden with a hoe or a camera in hand.

Susan has followed Christ since the age of ten, sometimes lagging behind and other times running ahead, but always safe in His love.

Question: What inspires you?

Susan:  Old things inspire me. A box of beat-up doorknobs, an antique wedding veil, or a bundle of letters from bygone days can conjure up all sorts of story ideas. Also, everyday natural beauty—sunsets and storm clouds, lightning bugs and birdsong—generates so many opportunities for wonder, which for me, often leads to inspiration.

I love combing through old things and wondering about where they came from, and who owned them. It’s an imagination feast!

Next question is a bit of fun–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Susan:  My crayon name would be Heavenly Blue. It’s the color of a high Kentucky sky on a summer day or the exact shade of my favorite summer vine, the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory.

Well, the blue spectrum suggests that you are soft, soothing, compassionate and caring. I love blue, especially that Kentucky sky.

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

Susan: I wanted to be whatever character I was reading at the time. For a while, I wanted to be a nurse, like Cherry Ames. Then I longed to solve mysteries like Nancy Drew. I even thought maybe, a very big maybe, I could be a jockey and ride a Black Stallion. As a writer, I’m still deeply inspired by what I read and often grow in the same direction as the characters I admire.

I so seldom hear of others who’ve read Cherry Ames. I loved those books and longed to be a candystriper like she was!

Susan: Thanks so much for this chance to visit with your readers!

Thank you, Susan, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

To learn more about Susan, visit her blog, Sweet Annabelle, or connect with her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.


Readers, Susan is a contributor to Michelle Medlock Adam’s book, Love and Care for the One and Only You. She is graciously giving this book (print version) to one among our commenters. Here are the details–

 

Love & Care For the One and Only You

What if we valued and cared for ourselves the way one does a masterpiece sculpted by a master artist? Each of us is a unique creation crafted by the ultimate Artist. When we realize that, how can we help but love and care for the body, mind, and heart God has given us?
Weekly encouragements along with practical tips and suggestions will help you love and care for yourself as your Creator intended.

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Spark:The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One by J.M. Hackman

Today I’d like to introduce author, J.M. Hackman.  In 2015, she won the Editor’s Choice Award in the Realm Makers Short Story Contest for her story, “The Escort,” published in RealmScapes: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology. Her debut novel, Spark, has released and I’ve asked her a few questions…

Hi, J.M.! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

J.M.: I grew up in the mountains of Pennsylvania. An only child, my imagination was what prevented me from being too lonely. After graduating from Penn State, I married my boyfriend of five years and settled in the same town I grew up in. My mechanical engineer husband and I have been married for twenty-two years (this June), and we have two fantastic girls (ages 11 and 17).

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

J.M.: In 1995, I began writing Christian romance, then took a break to have children. During that break, I read many of the YA series: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Lord of the Rings. But none of them had any female protagonists. So I began writing Spark, a YA Christian fantasy with a courageous heroine. Although my stories are speculative, a strong thread of romance twines through each one. This genre is the perfect vehicle to show the fight between good and evil. Readers who would never read a Christian story might be more likely to pick up a fantasy novel. And I love YA because it’s such a fantastic age for discovering what your True North is and who you want to become.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

J.M.: I have a very rough outline (I use index cards) of where I want my story to start and end, with a few key events in between. Everything else is open. It makes things interesting. Right now, I’m fighting some of my characters because they’re not following orders. I’ll have to do some re-writing to make them fall in line!

What is the hardest thing about writing?

J.M.: Writing a synopsis. For me, trying to fit an entire narrative on a single piece of paper is a ridiculous exercise in futility.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

J.M.: Hopefully, I’ll still be writing stories! I’d like to be finishing up my series The Firebrand Chronicles and starting a fairy tale retelling that’s been simmering on the “back burner” for a while. I’d also like to have the opportunity to meet more speculative fiction authors and teach at a conference or two.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit, J.M.!


Spark:The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?


J.M. Hackman has held many positions: assistant librarian, office assistant, office manager, substitute teacher, writer, wife, and mother. She still holds the last three. And loves it. She received a degree in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University and now spends her days writing stories, consuming massive quantities of chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds.

You can find her at www.jmhackman.com.

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3 Questions Wednesday with Melissa Henderson

Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Friends and family call her “Mimi”.

Stories are constantly flowing through her mind. She can laugh at herself, and there are plenty of experiences in life that bring laughter and joy. That is why their family motto is “It’s Always A Story with the Henderson’s”.

Melissa schedules a time to write each day and is writing her first Christian inspirational fiction story.  She spiritually prepares for writing stories by praying first and asking God to give the words that He wants her to share with others.

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday, Melissa! Let’s get to the first question:

What inspires you?

Melissa:  I am inspired by my faith. I am a child of God. His love and His mercies are new each day.  My family also inspires me. Our family is known for funny experiences. We are blessed with the ability to laugh at ourselves. I pray we all will draw closer to God each day.

I love that, Melissa. It’s evident that your faith in God is number one in your life–and humor is its own inspiration, isn’t it? It’s a survival tactic for me!

Next question–

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

Melissa:  I would be “Playful Pink”. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, people started giving me items that were the color pink. Pink hats, scarves, socks, pencils, notepads, etc.  I have an upbeat playful personality and my favorite color is pink. Therefore, “Playful Pink” would be my crayon color and it would be bright pink.

Ooo, I like that! Goes right along with your earlier statement about humor. Now, last question–

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

Melissa:  As a child, I wanted to be a teacher and a writer. My parents and teachers gave me a great love for reading and writing. Today, I am writing my first Christian fiction novel.

What a wonderful testimony of how God brings us full circle and grants the desires of our hearts.

Melissa, thanks for joining us today, and sharing so much of your heart and soul through your answers to our 3 Questions. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. May God bless your writing!

Coffee-loving readers–Melissa is giving away a $10 Starbucks card! Leave a comment below for a chance to win. Ask her a question, or just tell Melissa how much you love coffee! Wish I could enter. 🙂

Please visit Melissa’s blog at www.melissaghenderson.com


Join us next week as we welcome Susan Simpson Holt to 3 Questions Wednesday!

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3 Questions Wednesday with Katie Clark

My friend, author Katie Clark, is our guest today. She has a brand new book releasing called Securing the Handyman’s Heart.

With great pleasure, we welcome her to 3 Questions Wednesday!

First question–

What inspires you?

Katie: Life! Adventure, love, humor, pain…life. When I see something that evokes passion in others, it automatically gets my mind to moving with inspiration.

Love that thought. 🙂 Now…

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

Katie: Wow! That is a toughie! I think, though, playing off my last answer, that maybe I’d be a deep shade of red called Passion. Too cliché? *shrugs*

I agree. Life could definitely be colored red. Last question…

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

Katie: All. The. Things. Haha 😊. I wanted to be a writer (yep, I was writing stories even in grade school), a business woman (I always wanted to wear smart suits with my hair in an up-do), a secretary (I’m not sure why, that just always seemed glamorous to my child-brain)…the list goes on. But I guess, looking back, it means I was always a dreamer. Through books I can be all these things and more!

I haven’t thought of it that way. Great answer! Thanks so much for stopping in today!

Katie is graciously offering a Kindle copy of her book, Securing the Handyman’s Heart to one person who leaves a comment. It could be you!


Securing the Handyman’s Heart

Local cupcake queen Kayla Dobbs is feeling the heat—just as her bakery is finally taking off, her retired parents start pressuring her to move to Florida. Determined to prove her success, she takes on extra work at the bakery and fibs a little about the depth of her love life. When her mother announces an upcoming visit to meet the lucky guy, Kayla makes a pact with her friends to get a proposal from George Marks, town handyman extraordinaire. The problem is, George seems totally indifferent.

George Marks has enough on his plate with running his business, taking care of an ailing but feisty grandmother, and the possibility of a new business venture on the horizon. But when bumping into Kayla becomes a strangely routine thing, he’s surprised to realize it has also become the highlight of his days. As business spirals out of control and Granny takes a turn for the worse, he’s sure he made one too many commitments. 

With a dash of matchmaking granny and a pinch of secret cupcake recipe, Kayla and George find themselves in one messy kitchen. But will they find themselves in love?


KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes inspirational romance for adults as well as young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural novel, Shadowed Eden, and The Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

3 Questions Wednesday with Janalyn Voigt (on Thursday)

Yes. It is Thursday. So why am I posting a 3 Questions Wednesday interview? Because I zealously overbooked yesterday and I like each guest to have their own day. And today’s guest, my friend, Janalyn, has a new book just released.  Make sure and read to the end to enjoy a short excerpt from Hills of Nevermore.

So let’s get to the first question:

What inspires you?

Janalyn: Many of my best book ideas have come to me while in nature. The sensation of not being completely in control takes me outside my comfort zone, where inspiration breathes more readily into my soul. The beauty of my surroundings brings out the poet in my soul, and God seems very near.

Beauty bringing out the poet in us. I love that. Now…

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

Janalyn: I’m the variegated crayon because I’m so eclectic. I’ve tried to fit into a one-genre-per-author publishing world, but that’s not how I’m wired. I’m a storyteller in the old-fashioned sense of the word. If I lived in a primitive culture where people gathered around the fire to socialize, I’d be the one spinning tales. That’s exactly what I did as a child. The neighborhood kids would sit around me on our front lawn and beg me for just one more story. I don’t remember anything I told them, but I must have known how to please my audience.

A Romantic Times review of Hills of Nevermore (Montana Gold, book 1), which just released May 1st, credited me with skillfully weaving together several genres. While that’s a nice compliment, the truth is that I just told the story.

Storytelling is a wonderful talent. Last question:

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

Janalyn: I didn’t give it much thought until I turned twelve. That’s when my sixth-grade teacher suggested I consider becoming a novelist. His suggestion came on the heels of a rollicking short story I wrote for his class about some sort of high-seas adventure I’ve since forgotten. Despite my stint as the neighborhood storyteller, I had to move past my painful shyness and self-doubt to believe that I could write books.

Even then, I let a serious case of impostor syndrome hold me back. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when you sabotage your own success because you don’t believe you deserve it. It’s not uncommon among high achievers in particular. I had no clue I suffered from this affliction until I wrote a post about it for Live Write Breathe, my website for writers, and noticed familiar symptoms.

Recognizing that impostor syndrome holds you back takes you a long way toward overcoming it. Now I question every self-limiting thought and step out in faith to accomplish things I never thought possible.

We’re glad you overcame. 🙂 Thanks so much for dropping by today, Janalyn!

Janalyn is giving away a free copy of DawnSinger, the first book in Tales of Faeraven, which readers liken to a medieval historical novel despite its epic fantasy tendencies. Comment to enter.

Purchase Hills of Nevermore (just 99¢ for a limited time) and receive a free copy of Hearts Reunited, a western historical romance by award-winning author Miralee Ferrell. Read the details here: http://janalynvoigt.com/hills-of-nevermore-launch.

Enter the giveaway drawing to win a free antique locket like the one in the opening scene of Hills of Nevermore: http://janalynvoigt.com/hon-locket-giveaway.


DawnSinger 

By Janalyn Voigt

A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her travel on winged horses across dangerous territory in a desperate bid to fulfill prophecy and release restoration into a divided land.

Hearts Reunited 

By Miralee Ferrell

Can Mercedes and Jesse set aside the old family feud and find their way back to the love that had only started to blossom when Jesse left?

Hills of Nevermore

By Janalyn Voigt

Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish circuit preacher bent on helping her survive?

In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane.

Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God.

Book’s Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1943959269/


Janalyn Voigt’s lifelong love of storytelling began in childhood when she dreamed up her own bedtime stories. She grew into a precocious reader, a pastime she credits with teaching her to write. Janalyn trained formally with Christian Writers Guild.

Today she is a multi-genre author and literary judge. Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn, read the first chapters of her books, subscribe to her e-letter, and join her reader clubs at http://janalynvoigt.com.

Links to Janalyn Voigt Online:

Website: http://janalynvoigt.com

Website for authors: http://livewritebreathe.com

Sign up for Janalyn’s mailing list: http://janalynvoigt.com/join-e-letter

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Janalyn-Voigt/e/B008CEX4P4

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JanalynVoigt

Goodreads Author Page: http://janalynvoigt.com/goodreads

Bookbub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/janalyn-voigt

Hills of Nevermore

CHAPTER ONE

Idaho Territory, May, 1863

AMERICA WATCHED HER WAGON TRAIN SHRINK steadily in the distance, dust billowing in its wake. How could it have traveled so far in such a short time? Oh, why hadn’t she let someone know she’d needed to stop? Her friend Addie, taking a turn holding America’s baby, might not look for her unless Liberty woke and cried for her mother. Bill Baker, driving her oxen for a spell out of kindness, wouldn’t notice her absence for some time.

“I can’t have lost it!” Tears blurred the trail beneath America’s feet. She’d been a fool to wear the locket Kyle had given her. She should have kept it stashed away. When she’d felt her necklace’s chain break, she’d stopped walking at once. Why couldn’t she find it? If she didn’t come across the locket soon, she’d have to leave it behind. Catching up to the wagon train would take some doing even now, and every passing moment carried her baby, only three months old, farther away.

A meadowlark trilled, the song a sharp accent against the deeper thud of hooves.

A shiver ran down her spine. She jerked her gaze upward.

A spotted pony pranced on the path. The rider on the horse’s back watched her from dark eyes. Beneath the quillwork adorning the brave’s chest, his skin gleamed the color of robust tea. A black stripe of paint slashed across the bridge of his nose. Two tight braids fell to the sash that bound fringed leggings at the waist. Strips of cloth crisscrossed a wide forehead, and feathers fanned sideways behind his head.

A group of Indians on ponies clustered beside him. One of them called out, laughing.

The brave held up his hand for silence.

Wisps of hair escaped America’s bonnet, stinging her eyes. She clawed them away with a trembling hand. One thought crashed into another, beating to the rhythm of her wild pulse. Could she outrun them? No. What would they do to her once they caught her? Horrible. She trembled at the very idea. They could scalp and murder her. Or. If they let her live, that might be worse.

With fear burning the back of her throat and her heart pounding like the wings of a canary against the bars of its cage, America walked toward the brave. Her legs shook so badly that they threatened to collapse. But she lifted her head high and pretended chance encounters like this happened every day.

She picked her way through the sagebrush and bunch grass beside the trail. The spotted pony snorted and showed the whites of its eyes. The leader’s dark gaze swept over America, making the hair on the back of her neck prickle.

The ground gave way as pain shot through her foot. She pitched forward and sprawled beside the pony’s prancing hooves.

The brave gave a command in his native tongue that quieted his pony. He leaned down to her. She stared at the hand he extended, then past it to his face. He watched her with an expression that told her nothing.

She pushed to her knees, drew breath, and took his hand.

The brave tugged America upward and caught her in a strong grip, lifting her to sit in front of him. She perched before him astride the pony with her skirt riding up to her knees. Heat rushed into her cheeks at being so immodestly displayed. He tightened his arm around her middle, and she fought the urge to scream. Whatever he intended, a clear head might help her survive. He’d spared her life so far, but for what purpose? She’d heard tales of women forced to live with natives but had never thought such a fate might befall her.

The pony lurched into motion beneath her and went through its paces, finally stretching into a gallop. The wind of their passing fanned her face. The thundering of hooves told her the other braves followed. The ground sped by as they overtook the train and curved into the path it would travel.

But this made no sense. Why would the brave carry her toward, rather than away from, the wagon train? Did he mean to trade her for goods?

A shout went up from the wagons.

The pony slid to a stop, and her captor lowered her with swift ease. He wheeled his pony to face his waiting companions but looked back with a smile touching his lips. “Brave woman.”

“You speak English?” The words jerked from her.

His smile broke into a grin, and the pony plunged forward as the shadow of a cloud raced over the ground.

America stared after this brave who had turned from captor to rescuer. He’d done none of the things she’d dreaded and everything necessary to help her. His behavior didn’t reconcile with what she’d been told about Indians, but now was not the time to puzzle that out.

She ran toward the wagons with the prairie wavering through a sheen of tears. Two riders pulled ahead of the train to meet her. America’s joy at being set free plummeted at first sight of the red-headed miner, Pete Amesly. Why would the last person she wanted to see right now ride out to meet her?

Grant Hadley, the wagon train’s scout, reined in his Morgan beside her. “Are you all right?”

Pete drew in his chestnut quarter horse on her other side and peered at her with narrowed eyes. “What were you doing with those Indians, anyways?”

“I’m well, thank you,” she answered Grant, ignoring Pete.

The grizzled scout squinted. “What happened?”

“I stopped for a few minutes and came across some Indians.” Describing her actions made them seem even more foolish.

Pete snorted. “Why would you do a fool thing like that?”

Heat flamed across America’s cheeks. She wasn’t about to tell Pete about Kyle or the locket he’d given her.

The wagon train reached them then, sparing her from commenting as the oxen lumbered by on either side. Here on the flat prairie, the drivers fanned out their wagons to avoid breathing one another’s dust.

“That’s not important.” Grant sent Pete a scalding look before returning his attention to America. “Let’s get you back to your wagon.”

“There’s Addie now.” She gave him a grateful smile and moved off to intercept her friend. Walking a safe distance beside her wagon and the oxen driven by her mop-headed son, Travis, Addie cradled Liberty in her arms.

“I was wondering where you were.” Addie gave her a quiet smile. “My arms are starting to ache.” She looked past America to Grant and Pete. “Gentlemen?”

America took Liberty’s weight into her arms and held her daughter close. Here was a treasure more precious than any locket. She fell into step beside Addie with tears blurring her vision.

Grant kept pace astride his Morgan. “She’s had some sort of mishap, ma’am.” He cleared his throat. “Maybe you can ask her about it. Find out if she’s come to harm in any way.” His ears turning pink, he gestured with his head to Pete, and they rode off.

Addie turned a frowning face toward her. “Tell me what happened.”

“He helped me.” America spoke on a note of wonder.

“Who helped you?”

“The Indian brave. I thought he meant to kill or kidnap me, or else trade me for goods. But he helped me instead.”

Addie shook her head. “Tell me from the beginning.”

“I lagged behind the wagon train.”

“You left the train on your own?”

“It was more like it left me, but yes. I meant to stop only for a short while to—well, to look for something I dropped.”

“But you know not to fall behind. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Mr. Hughes was talking with you, or I’d have said something. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I was bound and determined not to slow the train.”

Addie sighed. “Does this have anything to do with Pete Amesly’s objections to your joining us?”

Moisture prickled America’s eyes. “Maybe he’s right. I can barely do my share with a baby to take care of.”

“That’s hardly your fault. Granted, if you had asked to join the train when we first set out, our captains might have refused, but leaving you stranded at Fort Bridger would be quite a different matter. Christian charity required us to rescue a widow in need. Under the circumstances, no one minds doing a little extra work for you.”

“Amesly objects.”

“Oh, pshaw! Pete is so taken with gold fever he’s lost his manners. The others don’t feel the same.”

“I fear he may be right, though. I’ve slowed the train and taken others from their own chores to attend mine. I can’t help feeling like a burden.”

“Why, America Liberty Reed! I’m appalled you would say such a thing. I don’t know what I’d have done after my Clyde—” She took a breath. “After the accident, I felt I couldn’t go on. My son tried to support me, but Travis had his own grief to bear over his father’s loss. Your company eased us both. You’re a blessing not a burden and remember—I need your help cooking for the miners at Bannack.”

The idea of cooking for miners held little appeal, but other options were in short supply. “I’m touched by your kindness, although I’m not sure why you want to cast your lot in with mine.”

Addie smiled. “That’s easy. Having your help makes me feel less—alone. And you need a friend. Never mind all that about not knowing you well, by the by. I’m a good judge of people, and I could tell right off you’re decent folk.”

Addie’s judgment of people must have faltered, but no need to tell her that. Liberty stirred. Her blue eyes opened to stare at America—eyes like her father’s. America hitched a breath.

No one ever had to know her secret.

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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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Six-Word Story Contest Winner

The six-word story contest is over. It’s always kind of sad when it comes to an end. But we had lots of entries and the members of the Writing Prompts Crew were hard-pressed to pick one.  But we did and I’m ready to announce the winner:

Congratulations, Amanda Stewart Hardin! You have won our Grand Prize of a $40 Etsy gift card with this story…

A door opened revealing the truth.

Thanks, all of you for taking part in our super short story contest. We appreciate all of our readers and hope you will continue to make the Writing Prompts blog part of your regular reading. And stay tuned for more news about upcoming giveaways!