I never set a goal to write a novel, although as a teen I thought it would be fun. I grew up watching John-Boy Walton labor through his novel, only to have it burn up in a house fire. I credit—blame?—my venture into book publishing on a dull evening when I watched a BBC version of “Jane Eyre.” That night I dreamed the beginning, pivotal middle scene, and the end of what became my debut novel, “Embracing Hope.”
My lead, Drew, is a softer younger Christian version of brooding yet passionate Mr. Rochester. (Although Drew’s insane wife isn’t hidden away in a padded castle turret—she’s just dead!) Allison, the ingénue, has the compassion and relationship inexperience of Jane Eyre, but instead of being an abused orphaned ward of the state, she’s fighting financial and academic challenges.
I began telling people about my endeavor early in what became a nine-year quest. Many weren’t surprised. They figured I’d get around to it someday based on my journalism and PR career. My mother shrugged, maintaining she preferred non-fiction. My dad smiled, which meant he approved. My good friend and former boss, one of my greatest cheerleaders, teased me about a sequel. And the series was born. Book 2 is 90 percent done. Book 3 is 50 percent done, and Book 4 is a twinkle in my eye.
But I got ahead of myself. I needed to crack the publishing ceiling with the first book so the quest continued. Several read the manuscript for critiquing, I entered contests (never won), and attended a writer’s conference. I read books about writing books. I pitched to and was rejected by about a dozen agents and publishers.
Then the chaos called Life interrupted. At one point I didn’t look at the manuscript for over a year. I worked on the sequels for sheer pleasure. I didn’t make a single pitch for six years. Life settled down, but I wasn’t on fire to publish. Had I wasted all this time, energy and money on nothing? I didn’t think so. Why else would the Lord have given me the story? So I yielded my novel to God and let it sit.
A year ago I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge. Or perhaps it was Dale Lewis, my longtime friend and writing mentor who died suddenly in 2015, whispering in my ear from heaven, “It’s time, Janell.” After a flat-out “no” from one publisher and a broken contract from another, I found my publisher, Discern Products, through a LinkedIn query. “Embracing Hope” was published in November 2016. It’s available in paperback and ebook on Amazon; and in ebook on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble Nook and Kobo.
For more about “Embracing Hope”, visit and “Like” my Facebook page.