Monday, March 27, 2017

3 copies of DawnSinger by Janalyn Voigt to be given away ends April 3

When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan

I was tapped out on all levels. Heartbroken from having to pay someone else to watch my baby--the very thing I longed to do--while I worked, I wept into my pillow at night. Physically spent from racing home to care for my baby while simultaneously trying to cook and clean, I would then sometimes have to spend some of the night awake with my baby. Wounded after the traumatic events that left me alone as a parent, I found it hard to even pray.

Being a single parent was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  My family lived several states away and I had little time or energy to maintain friendships. This meant my baby and I spent holidays on our own. I desperately needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. Those in my church sensitive enough to step in for me had my undying gratitude.

The Lord granted my plea to remain home with my baby when my employer let me telecommute from home. Eventually, a wonderful man claimed my heart. One of the sweetest memories from our wedding was when my sweet daughter, now three, went down the aisle in her white dress to “marry” John along with me. (My second favorite was the moment when the ice cream truck played its music outside and she sprinted back down the aisle.)

The Bible tells us that “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6).  I can testify to the truth of this. He did with me. I rejoice in God’s faithfulness every day, but a certain sadness tempers my joy. I will never forget the confusion, exhaustion, and pain of being all alone as a mother. My heart goes out to single parents. I know what it’s like. More importantly, God knows. He sees every tear and longs to comfort the lonely.

I love how God lets us turn back and help others going through something we endured. When writing Hills of Nevermore, the first novel in the Montana Gold western historical romance series, I drew upon my experience as a single Mom to bring the heroine to life. Through this story, I wanted to show that God is bigger than our sins, and that He loves us despite them.  We can do nothing in our own strength to redeem ourselves in God’s eyes because He already did that by dying on the cross for our sins. Accepting this fact brings peace and new life.

Thanks for visiting with me on Debbie Lynne’s blog today. I’m giving away three digital copies of DawnSinger. To enter, please leave a comment about a life experience that gave you empathy for someone else or share how another person touched you out of their own sorrows. 

DawnSinger: 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.

Hills of Nevermore (Montana Gold, Book 1)

Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish 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. 

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest, Hills of Nevermore explores faith, love, and courage in the Wild West.

About Janalyn:

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. 

Sign up to receive literary wayfarer journals and book extras telling the stories behind her stories at:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Embracing Hope by Janell Butler Wojtowicz ends 3/27

Please welcome Janell Butler Wojtowicz to my blog this week. Janell is giving away an ecopy of her book. Be sure to answer one of her questions below to be entered. Don't forget to leave your email addy so we can contact you if you win. And as always let me know if you are a feedburner follower for an extra entry!

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to write a book before computers arrived on the scene. I’d have gone through a forest of paper, a railcar of ink cartridges, and a water tower of white-out if I had to use a typewriter. I can’t fathom being able to read my own hand-writing—and working through writer’s cramp—if I had to use college-ruled notebooks, or even worse, papyrus. My writing style would have doomed me after page one.


I’ve heard that some authors are able to write chronologically, start to finish, then they go back to rewrite and tweak. Not me; my brain isn’t that organized. I write in what I call “chunks.” I’m a journalist by training, and somewhere along the way this chunking method evolved. I’d write concepts, thoughts or interview answers in paragraphs from my notes or research. I rarely had the lead; it usually came after all my notes were compiled. By that time the tone of the article had jelled and the lead “popped.” Then I assembled the chunks into what I hoped was a cohesive whole.

When I set out to write what eventually became “Embracing Hope”, I wrote the opening scene, the pivotal event in the middle, and the happy ending. There was no outline. I’d write chunks (scenes, events, dialogues) to fill in the plot, bouncing back and forth like lottery balls in the cage. The chunks were all sizes—a chapter, a scene, a paragraph. I’d be on a walk and find myself developing a conversation (out loud!). I’d go home, write it and slide it into the appropriate place.

Eventually, the outline solidified and using a physical calendar, I filled in the plot right down to each day. I used a scene-by-scene POV list to make sure the characters are presented equally.

With such a haphazard style followed by the “concrete sequential”, my favorite part of the writing process became the rewrite. When I look at the finished version of “Embracing Hope” I marvel, red-faced, at the first draft: 250,000 words, an outlandish other-worldly beginning, POVs all over the map, no antagonist.

I panicked when I realized the novel had 250,000 words. (I must have been ignorant of the word counter in the program.) I was positive I’d never be able to cut almost two-thirds of the story. After I calmed down, the ruthless slashing began. I lost track of how many times I said, “What was I thinking?” or “That was stupid.”

Word surgery wasn’t as painful as I thought and it took just a few days. I saw right away that it was a better story. Today it’s a down-to-earth 97,000 words, and I added an antagonist who totally changed the theme of the story.

I compare rewriting to making pottery. You start out with dull moldable clay, put it on the pottery wheel and work it over and over with your hands, eyes and imagination. Maybe you have a rough drawing, but it’s in pencil and an eraser is handy. After dizzying spins of the wheel, you realize the piece is nothing but a shapeless meaningless chunk of clay that makes no sense. It doesn’t convey what you’re trying to create or express. So you smash up that glob of clay, rev up the wheel and start over. You rip off pieces of clay and fling them across the room; add a chunk here and there; shape and contour.

Eventually you’re satisfied and the piece is taken to the kiln and fired. Next come the details: glazes, colors, designs. Another firing. Finally, it tells a story; defines either the artist or the recipient. It might be practical, efficient and purposeful; purely artistic; representational or abstract.

Beginning as meaningless chunks of words and ideas spinning around my head, most of them flung across the room, “Embracing Hope” was pulverized, designed and redesigned, shaped and reshaped. It’s been refined through fire many times. Finally, after nine years, it’s on display as a reflection of the artist for all to see and, hopefully, enjoy.
Now it’s time to pick up another chunk of clay and rev up the pottery wheel.

If you’re a writer, what’s your style of writing and what makes it work for you?

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, have you ever started something from scratch, spent what seemed like too much time, and poured love and energy into it only to realize (or be told) that it was a pile of junk, totally useless? What did you do?

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. As a result, it’s no surprise that 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. She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota, where she divides her time between writing novels and her freelance writing service, A Portrait in Words.

“Embracing Hope”

University dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. Falling in love again is the last thing on his mind. Even as grad student Allison Bennett deals with financial hardships and academic challenges, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Student senate president Chris Whitney carries around the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a just-below-the surface temper. 

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Finding Sarah Finding Me by Christine Lindsay ends 3/20

Please welcome Christine Lindsay. Christine has a beautiful testimony she wants to share with you. She is giving away an ecopy of her book Finding Sarah Finding Me. To enter ask Christine a question or share an experience with her. Don't forget to leave your email address and if you are a feedburner follower be sure to let me know.

GOD CAN BE SO CRUEL — By Christine Lindsay
At times, I’ve curled my fist and shook it under the very nose of my creator, and accused Him of stealing my child.
As an unmarried, pregnant, 20-year-old, I gave up my baby to a closed adoption. At least the Christian agency assured me that this childless couple would raise my child to love the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the next 20 years, while I married a sweet man and we had 3 children of our own, I prayed for the day Sarah would become an adult, and she and I would have our Reunion. Though I was happily married and adored my kids, the hunger to see my birth-daughter overtook all my thinking, day and night.
My dream spun in front of me like a glass ornament. Sarah and her parents, and my family, would hug, and laugh, and cry. Of course the reunion would include Sarah’s parents. I’d prayed for them since the moment I chose them from that anonymous portfolio. It was only a matter of time for us all to meet. It wasn’t that I wanted to be Sarah’s mom. Her adoptive mom was her real mom. I wanted something else; a birth-mother relationship with Sarah—whatever that was.
I was so sure that because Sarah’s adoptive parents and I were Christians that our reunion would be easy. But people are made up of such different emotional stuff. We are fragile, complex.
Excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me, (After the reunion).

All these years, have I truly understood the magnitude of my loss, understood what I did in giving up my child?
My kids hear me sobbing, the three of them stay in the living room out of the maelstrom of my unleashed emotions. David pulls me into the kitchen and holds me close. I’ve kept a lock on my disappointment all day, having hoped for so much more closeness than Sarah has been able to offer. Now it unleashes, a wounded tiger uncaged.
“I’ve prayed for twenty years,” I yell at David as I pull away, “prayed for twenty years that God would prepare their hearts so that no one would feel hurt. And this is the best he could do! This… this is the biggest disappointment of my life!” I cry out, “and God knows I’ve had enough of them.”
David takes hold of me again. I resist, but he holds tight while my mind fights to sift through the avalanche of my emotions. I want to get to know my beautiful birth daughter, but my dream lies at my feet like shattered glass. She is my daughter, but not my daughter. I’m not a part of her family, nor have Sarah or her parents ever considered such a thing.
Her mom and dad don’t even want to meet me.

Poor Sarah’s parents were devastated that I wanted a relationship with their daughter. Poor me was crushed by their rejection, after I’d given them my baby. And poor Sarah tried to keep everyone happy.

I began to believe the God had hoodwinked me into giving up my baby to someone more worthy than me. And if I wasn’t good enough to raise Sarah, then God help the poor children in my care. That was the beginning of my emotional breakdown.

In searching for my birth-daughter, I lost myself for a while, but gradually I surrendered my heartache to God. After some years, Sarah and I developed a warm relationship. The Lord used those years though, to repaint the pale picture I had of Him. He used the picture of myself, a crushed and bruised birth-mother who could never let go of the love she had for her firstborn, even if her firstborn could never love her.

God is not cruel. He used my dark journey to make me into a mother, that these days, brings joy to all her children, including her birth-daughter, and nowadays, Sarah’s children too.

BOOK DESCRIPTION for Finding Sarah Finding Me:
Sometimes it is only through giving up our hearts that we learn to trust the Lord.
Adoption. It’s something that touches one in three people today, a word that will conjure different emotions in those people touched by it. A word that might represent the greatest hope…the greatest question…the greatest sacrifice. But most of all, it’s a word that represents God’s immense love for his people.
Join birth mother Christine Lindsay as she shares the heartaches, hopes, and epiphanies of her journey to reunion with the daughter she gave up...and to understanding her true identity in Christ along the way.
Through her story and glimpses into the lives of other families in the adoption triad, readers will see the beauty of our broken families, broken hearts, and broken dreams when we entrust them to our loving God.
Read for FREE Chapter One of Finding Sarah Finding Me by clicking HERE

Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction, and now non-fiction. Readers describe Christine’s fiction as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama. Readers of her non-fiction adoption memoir say Finding Sarah Finding Me should be in every Crisis Pregnancy in the country. A busy writer and speaker, Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada.