Thursday, February 9, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Janell Butler Wojtowicz

I want to extend a warm welcome to Janell Butler Wojtowicz. She's giving away an electronic copy of her book, Embracing Hope. Enter using the Rafflecopter box at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends Feb. 16, 2017.) Now, here's Janell...

“The wisdom that comes from above is … willing to yield.” – James 3:17, ISV

Obeying the yield sign

Perhaps you’ve heard of P.R.A.Y., a simple yet effective way to do just that: pray. It’s the acronym for Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield. I use it on occasion as a way to organize my thoughts.

I’ve found that P.R.A. is easy. I can always think of things: praising God’s creation, repenting of jealousies, asking for guidance with a problem. But I often get stuck on the Y. What does yield mean anyway? According to the dictionary, it means “to give up under pressure, surrender, concede.” I interpret “give up” as putting it behind me, moving on—like wadding up a 97,000-word manuscript and throwing it away. I didn’t consider the aspects of surrender or concede—until the quest to publish my novel.

It took me nine years to publish Embracing Hope. I faced all the obstacles every author has gone through, which wasn’t unexpected. In fact, I felt a part of the huge “unpubbed” family. Life also interrupted my quest: jobs and job loss, moving, health issues, loved ones’ deaths, the upheaval of the publishing industry. I wavered between determination and disinterest in my quest.

Then surrender and concede emerged, thanks to a divinely-timed devotional. “Okay, Lord, I surrender my book. I’m not giving up or putting it behind me. I’m just conceding that I can’t do this on my own so I’m stepping aside.” Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to back off. It was a relief. I didn’t put the manuscript through the shredder. Instead, I tinkered with it and toyed with the sequels for enjoyment—there was no pressure. I didn’t belabor or bemoan what some people would call stagnation.

A year ago, I felt a nudge precipitated by the sudden and unexpected death of my long-time friend and literary mentor. I wanted to try again because he never gave up on me. It was as if he whispered in my ear from heaven, “It’s time, Janell.” I pitched to three small traditional publishers I found on a database he had told me about. One turned me down flat. That’s okay. The second offered me a contract! I signed, praising God for finally answering a dormant prayer, and I withdrew my pitch from the third. But the second publisher went out of business before I even got started. What reason did God have for directing me there in the first place, I puzzled?

A month later, the pieces to the puzzle fell into place. Through a LinkedIn query about re-pitching to the third publisher, I found Discern Products—or I should say they found me. Lightbulb moment! I obeyed the “yield” sign years ago, and God led me down His path in His time and in His way. The road had speed bumps, sharp turns, dizzying curves, and dead ends, but I eventually reached my destination. Now comes another “yield” sign as I surrender and concede to His plans for what comes next.

Book 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?

Purchase link on Amazon...

About Janell...

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 has spent her entire 30-year career in writing, including newspaper journalism, Christian higher education and nonprofit public relations, and local government public information. Much of her writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy, and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.” Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two stepsons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters. 

Where to find Janell online...


  1. All the characters have equally difficult hardships presenting at once. It will be interesting to see how they come together. Will there be peace? Will there be conflict? I'm eager to find out!

    1. Good questions, Darlene. You'll have to read it to find out :)

      Good luck!

    2. All the threads will be tied up at the end, don't worry. My mother wouldn't read it unless there's a happy ending. And if I make the reader cry, I've done my job.

  2. The cover of the book caught my attention. Now, I want to read the story. :-)

    1. It's a great cover, for sure, Melissa.

      Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

    2. I fell for the cover because Drew looks so sad!!

  3. Yes, I have been stuck on the "y", trying to do things on my own instead of going to God first. Lesson learned the hard way. :-)

    1. I think we've probably all done that. I know I sure have.

    2. I've learned that Yield is even harder to obey than Stop.