Friday, September 13, 2019

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?
My full name is Janell Lynn (Butler) Wojtowicz; it’s a rather eclectic name in the literary scheme of things.
I never liked my first name until I went to college. I grew up with classmates named Sandy, Lori, Debbie and Becky; Janell was odd (the name and, well, me too). But with maturity came an appreciation for the uniqueness of the name. Thanks, Mom, I finally like it!
The middle name is just fine; no complaints there.
My maiden name is fairly common, but what made it a tad bit exceptional was the fact I grew up in Butler County, Iowa. No, it wasn’t named after our family (aw, shucks!). Iowa’s license plates include the county name, so we had no need for personalized plates.
As for the last name, it’s Polish and pronounced Why-toe-vitch. I’ve gotten used to those confused looks on people’s faces when I introduce myself, how telemarketers butcher the pronunciation, and the need to spell it out. (Confession: Sometimes I misspell it.)
I was raised on a farm just north of Bristow, Iowa, a mere speck on the state map. I attended Allison-Bristow Community School all 13 years, where I played saxophone in the band; marching in parades was the best part.
I received a bachelor’s degree in written communication from Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota. There I was editor of the college newspaper and helped out with the yearbook.
Thus endth The Wonder Years.
After college I worked in community journalism for 10 years in Clarksville, Charles City and Hampton, Iowa. Becoming a part of those communities gave me a deeper appreciation for small towns and the farming lifestyle, which has stuck with me.
Life changed when I married Frank, a life-long Minneapolitan in 1993, and moved to the Twin Cities, specifically a little ‘burb, St. Anthony Village. After 18 years there we moved a mile north to New Brighton, another charming little ‘burb. I have become a bona fide city girl managing to navigate congested freeways, downtown mazes, and the Mall of America.
I spent 12 years working in public relations at my college alma mater and its 15-station radio network. My role focused on media relations, college publications and fundraising collateral. I loved being surrounded by those college students.
For 15 months, I was Director of Communications with Leadership Foundations of America, a Christian nonprofit that supports inner-city organizations. The office was in downtown Minneapolis, which felt like I was in the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
I spent four years as public information specialist with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The city’s beautiful parks, recreational opportunities and environmental issues are world-renown, and it was an honor to work there.
Currently, I work as a freelance writer/editor through my business, A Portrait in Words. Clients include Christian nonprofits, small businesses and corporate. Talk about variety! I’ve edited communications material for an inner-city ministry and written 120 employee profiles for a railroad maintenance company.
Which brings me to today. My life revolves around marketing my first novel, “Embracing Hope”, and writing the sequels; maintaining my freelance services; and looking after family in Minnesota, Iowa, St. Louis, and Omaha.
Life rocks!
Twitter: @janellwoj

Messages: Poems and Short Stories to Live By

Find inspiration for our hectic times in these straight-forward poems for happy and sad days.
Find history, warmth and a touch of the paranormal in three stories.
Getting the Goat peeks into the early 1900's when mountain life was tough. Does Mama's advice hold true today?
In Stitches in Love Rose's deep love for her grandmother motivates others to share their gifts. Does Rose reap her reward?
Robert Horner is tempted in The Stranger, but does he succumb to the lure?
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta's a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she's a Grace Awards Finalist and a 2017 Reader's Favorite Book Awards recipient. She's published five books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Visit Gail's website at
reviewed by Deborah Stone (Sept. 19, 2016)
"Barely Above Water by Gail Pallotta has a powerful and heart wrenching message that we all need to hear. Suzie has something wrong with her, but no one seems to know what. Without a diagnosis, she is perceived, by some, to be lazy and complaining. No medical doctor has been able to help, so Suzie takes a giant leap of faith and trusts God to lead her. She moves to Florida to see an alternative medicine doctor that once helped her mother's friend. With no job, she relies on God and her savings while she looks for work. She ends up taking a summer-only job coaching a make-shift swim team with inexperienced swimmers. Although temporary, it will keep her going through the summer while she looks for other opportunities to support herself and pay for her treatments. Suzie meets Matt, the Park and Recreation Director and her new boss. When more than a work relationship begins to develop, Suzie feels she must tell Matt about her illness. Will he stand by her or walk away? Is telling him a risk that Suzie is willing to take?
Gail Pallotta introduces us to a world with options when it comes to taking care of our bodies. She speaks with authority on the subject because she understands it first hand. Gail Pallotta's characters are real and convincing because they come from a place of understanding. Gail's love story is fragile and tender, but with an inner strength that comes from trust and faith in God. Gail Pallotta's story is inspiring and resonates with hope when all hope seems to be gone. A lovely story with well defined and well developed characters, and a story line with factual information that will help, or at least educate, readers."
Twitter: @Hopefulwords

All That Matters

 In All That Matters, the continuing story of Clella "Catherine" begins in the cow-town of Fort Worth in 1957. Life holds such promise as she, her husband, and children travel to new destinations and adventures, from one job and town to another. Catherine loves her husband and he loves her. What could go wrong? She soon learns her trials are not over. It's through these trials and adversities, that Catherine and her daughter, Diane, discover the will to overcome through the one and only true love, which is all that matters

About Diane Yates

Diane, a Christian-Fiction writer, is the author of two biography/memoirs, Pathways of the Heart and All That Matters. She has served two terms as President of Ozarks Writers League and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writer's Guild. She and her husband, Rick, work in youth and adult ministries in their church, where she writes plays and skits as well as Sunday School curriculum and Bible studies. She has three children and eight grandchildren who are the crown of her life.

The Full Armor of God: Are You Sure You Got Dressed Today?

You’ve been caught wearing only your underwear again. Pages have been written attempting to interpret these nightmares where we suddenly find ourselves walking out in public naked. Our worst fears trickle into our subconscious minds, and when we close our eyes, we relive these fears again and again.

What if these weren’t dreams? We leave our homes every day fully clothed, but —in the spiritual realm and in Satan’s eyes—many of us are still naked. When our clothing choices do not include the Armor of God, Satan claps because he knows that he can spin his webs and win.
God’s armor is made available to everyone, but so is the decision we are asked to make. Just like a strong-willed child fighting the parent who is forcing them into a winter coat, God knows that if He is the parent forcing us into His armor, our demeanor will be less than warrior-like. Because of this, He allows us to make the choice as to whether or not we want to be fully armed or completely naked.
Let’s walk through each piece of armor and grow in our understanding of the depth of love the author and designer of this armor has for you. Satan wants you blinded from this truth, so like a strong-willed child, let’s open The Full Armor of God, turn its pages, and fight like a warrior against the enemy whose only desire is to seek, kill, and destroy those whom God loves.
Crista Crawford 
is an imperfect Christian who felt led to write about her perfect God. Through His patience and love, she learned the importance of wearing His protective armor because being unprotected wasn't fun anymore; it was hard.
Crista has a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Education with an emphasis in reading. She is the recipient of the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. Crista lives in the Midwest with her husband, Rod, and their children.
Visit Crista's blog to learn more about clothing yourself in God's protection.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Call to Duty: The Holy Flame Trilogy

 Courageous. Brave. Fearless. Valiant. These synonyms are often used to describe firefighters/paramedics, police officers, and military personnel. They face danger and lay their lives on the line when they leave for work. What are their struggles? Could that hinder their job proficiency? Who is taking care of those who are taking care of the citizens of this country?

Casey Carter is a 'newbie' to the firefighting family of Engine Company 15. Not only does she have to prove herself as a probationary firefighter, but she also has to battle misconceptions of females within her newly chosen profession. As situations begin to arise, can she count on the firefighter brotherhood to have her back? Will she be able to pass the tests placed before her, or are there aspects that she was not even aware existed?

Often in life there are two realms in play. There is the physical realm - what is right before you; the other is the spiritual realm - what is unseen. Each can directly affect you, whether you believe they exist or not. Can Casey keep them in balance when she is not exactly sure what she is fighting? Can a group of men help her see what cannot be readily seen, hear what cannot be readily heard, and be able to overcome what she never knew existed? Will they be able to show Casey her true Call To Duty?

Ephesians 6:12-13:
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

(A portion of the proceeds of this series will go to Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas – a non-profit group of hardworking volunteers who send care packages to our soldiers overseas.)
I was raised in a Christian military home, but it was far from tranquil. Like many young people, I left home as soon as possible, and went my own way, thinking I knew better. To me anything was better than where I was. Unfortunately, some of the choices I made led me away from the Lord, and sometimes that path was a dangerous one.
God is faithful, even when His children are lost and wandering. When I needed Him most, the Lord was there for me. He led me out of that danger and into a new life...a life where I am loved and appreciated. He taught me what 'real love' is, and what it's supposed to look like through my family and wonderful husband.
Who knew that "Prince Charming" actually existed? I hoped and prayed he was out there, and I found him! He is a 24 year Navy veteran and the love of my life! With his encouragement, I rediscovered the creativity I thought I had lost a long time ago, and have begun to publish the books I have written through the years. The words in these books helped me through my struggles, and my prayer is they will help others.
The way in which I write my Christian Books, is unique to say the least. I am a realistic Christian. People are people, they stumble, they fall, they trip, but God continues to dust us off, and set us back on the path again, if we just learn to trust in Him.
The challenges faced in my past give me a perspective on the realities of living the Christian life that some people may never see. There are times we wander away from God...there are times when we draw closer to Him. In our arrogance we think we can make it on our own. However, the One who made this world, and who made you, has the answers, and thankfully, He forgives our impudence and petulance and loves us through it all. God is a God of love, mercy, grace, and guidance. He loves us and only wants the best for us.
Those who have read my books, describe them as encouraging, frustrating, and a wonderful read all at the same time. The same character that could have you crying one minute, will have you cheering the next! One of my editors, stated that 'she was so into the story, that she forgot to edit, and had to go back to do the editing'.
I pray you will enjoy my books as well!

While the stories are fiction, the journey is real.
Twitter:  @authoress_cj

Star Spangled Second Chance by Christie Logan

Star Spangled Second Chance by Christie Logan They were best friends before he left town without a word. Now he's back. Will her heart be broken again? Good girl Portia Phillips always followed the rules, colored inside the lines and walked the straight and narrow. Only her best friend Raymond Alessio could ever get her to quit being "perfect Portia" for a minute and take a risk. Portia fell in love with Raymond way back in fourth grade. That love only grew stronger as years passed, but she kept it hidden, until one Fourth of July when she finally had the courage to share her feelings. That was the night he broke her heart. Since then she's kept it safe, under lock and key. Now, eight years later, he's back in town with his young daughter. His life's a mess, but his love for Portia never changed. Can Raymond convince her to give him another chance? Will Portia find the courage to risk her heart a second time?

A sharp cry followed by a high-pitched wail jerked Portia out of her reverie. Underneath the monkey bars, Serena was helping the blonde child up from the ground. The little girl cried loudly as Serena propped her up with an arm around her shoulder.
"Oh, no." Portia rushed over to them. The little blonde's face was bright red, her face streaked with tears. "Sweetie, are you all right?"
"Her name's Lily. I know her from the afterschool program." Serena looked stricken. "We were just playing, and she fell."
"It's not your fault, Serena." Portia looked the other child up and down and saw no blood. "Did you hurt yourself, Lily?"
"I want my dad!" The child wailed. "Where's my daddy?"
"Okay, honey. We'll find him." Portia quickly scanned the area. Her gaze flew past the faces of a few adults who had stopped to stare at the spectacle, but no one came forward.
Suddenly a man's voice sounded behind her. "Lily!"
Portia turned toward the sound and froze. Her heartbeat thudded to a crawl and her tongue glued itself to the roof of her mouth as the man raced toward them.
For an instant, his eyes connected with Portia's as he swept by her to comfort the little girl. His child.
Suddenly everything around Portia went blurry, as though she were seeing the world through a smear of gel. What kind of crazy hand had fate dealt her, bringing her face to face with Raymond Alessio, after all this time? Here, where she first fell in love with him—and where he later broke her heart.

Praise for Star Spangled Second Chance
This sweet, clean, contemporary romance is well written. I love the way the author used flashbacks to fill in the history of the couples previous relationship and things that happened to it. The characters are so likable. I look forward to reading the rest of the Holidays in Applewood series.
Wow, what a second chance story!
If you love this genre this is a must read

Author Christie Logan
Christie Logan writes sweet romance straight from the heart. She lives in upstate New York with too many pets, too many dust bunnies lurking under the bed, and too many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She thinks everyone deserves a happy ending and in her books, everyone gets one.
Website * Facebook * Twitter


The Case of Dr Dude: A Michaela McPherson Mystery (Book 1)

Someone Is Kidnapping And Trafficking Women

When a young woman disappears after a job interview at a well-known dentist’s office in Richmond, Virginia, retired homicide detective Michaela McPherson and Angel her retired police dog are pulled into a crime that goes far beyond a missing person case. With the help of her close friend, the aging Countess Dorothy Borghase, and Richmond police, McPherson dives in.

 Could Human Trafficking Really Be A Problem In The United States?

This case pits McPherson and her companions against evil and greed armed with tentacles that span continents and generations. Russian mobsters are in America, kidnapping girls to auction off to the highest bidder in the international black market. Is there any hope of stopping an underground operation that extends so far and wide?

The Case of Dr. Dude is a thrilling ride that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

About Judith Lucci

Judith Lucci is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon Best Selling author who writes what she knows.... Hospitals, Medicine, Crime and Art. She adds suspense along with well-constructed plots, vivid descriptions and memorable characters. Very few readers can put down her medical and crime thriller novels once they start reading them.

Dr. Lucci is a Gold Medal Winner for Best Sleuth 2017 for Dr. Dude, the first book in the Michaela McPherson Series and Best Political Thriller 2017 for Viral, the third book in the Alexandra Destephano Novels. She has contributed to five anthologies which are currently available on Amazon. She has recently claimed the prestigious status of a Wall Street Journal Best Selling author. Her Cozy Mystery series, Artzy Chicks, debuts this summer and takes place at Massanutten Resort where she and five ditzy authors solve mysteries that occur at the resort.

Judithi is the author of the Alexandra Destephano Series, true-to-life medical thrillers set in New Orleans and the Michaela McPherson crime series set in Richmond, Virginia. Lucci's thrillers are a fast-paced, riveting reads that offer readers believable drama, memorable characters and true suspense.

Judith was born and educated in Virginia where she holds graduate and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. She is also the author of numerous academic and health-related articles and documents. She loves to communicate with her readers at Amazon
Twitter @JudithLucci