Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction

Janet Grunst! Winner of the 2017 Selah Award for Historical Romance


I’m honored to call this Selah Award Winner my friend. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Janet is a great encourager! We met at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Dallas in 2012–before we were both published–and we’ve kept in touch ever since. What a blessing to share and celebrate our publishing journeys together!

I hope you enjoy our mutual interviews both here and on Janet’s website.  And, if you comment on this post, you’ll have a chance to win either a print or Kindle copy of Janet’s award-winning novel, A Heart Set Free.

CGJ:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

JSG:  I was in my mid thirties and a stay-at-home mom.

CGJ:  Who first supported you in this dream?

JSG:  My former husband, Bob, who never read anything in this genre. He would read each chapter as I finished it and ask for the next one.

CGJ:  Who is your biggest cheerleader now?

JSG:  My husband, Ken, who encouraged me to get back into writing after I’d put it aside for decades. He encouraged me to try again to get this first story published. I provide him with red pens, and he loves to comment and edit.

CGJ:  What did you do before you became a writer?

JSG:  I was in the banking and mortgage lending industry before I had children. When I returned to work in the 90’s I worked for Community Bible Study (CBS), an international and interdenominational Bible study program with many classes throughout the United States and world. I have continued to serve in CBS Leadership before, during, and since retiring from employment in the ministry.

CGJ:  What genre do you prefer to write?

JSG:  Historical Romance and Historical

CGJ:  Which authors have influenced your writing and how?

JSG:  Secular authors: Jane Austen for most of her work; Margaret Mitchell for Gone With The Wind; Nevil Shute for A Town Like Alice; Charlotte Brontë for Jane Eyre; and Elizabeth Gaskell for North and South and Cranford. Inspirational authors: Too many to list but my all time favorite is General Lew Wallace for Ben Hur. All of these stories are ones that stay in your mind.

CGJ:  What do you want readers to experience while reading your books?

JSG:  While the stories may be in an historical setting, they communicate feelings and experiences that are timeless and the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain and bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.

CGJ:  Tell us a little bit about your book, the title and one or two sentences.

JSG:  A Heart Set Free  tells the story of a woman who flees Scotland in 1770 as an indentured servant to escape disgrace. In Virginia she finds forgiveness, faith, and a future she could never have anticipated.

CGJ:  How have your readers responded?

JSG:  I was so pleased with these reviews:

“I loved this tender and wonderful story. Amidst all the hurt and misunderstanding, we find forgiveness and grace. And along the way, we see love, slowly evolving, making its way into hearts that have been closed off due to hurt and loss. I found myself slowing down my reading as I approached the end because I just didn’t want the story to end.”

“This is a wonderful story! It has just the right amount of intrigue, romance, and adventure to keep the reader turning the pages – one of those books I didn’t want to finish too quickly, but didn’t want to stop reading. Please, where can I find the sequel?”

CGJ:  What lessons have you learned from this [publishing] journey?

JSG:  To always hold my writing with an open hand. I’m to do my part, and if it is God’s will, He’ll see it through to publication.

CGJ:  What writing projects are you currently working on? Is this book part of a series?

JSG:  A Heart Set Free  is the first story in a trilogy. Its theme is forgiveness. The second story is complete and in search of a publisher. Its theme is faithfulness. The final story is underway. Its theme is forbearance. They are each stand alone stories.

AUTHOR BIO: Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight. She lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband and West Highland White Terrier. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that can communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, and bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader. Janet is represented By Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency

Janet’s Website

Colonial Quill’s Blog 

Janet’s Facebook

A Heart Set Free ~ Winner of the 2017 Selah Award for Historical Romance.

29 thoughts on “Janet Grunst! Winner of the 2017 Selah Award for Historical Romance

  1. Thank you for a wonderful interview, ladies! I love meeting new authors. Janet, I smiled when you mentioned that your husband is your greatest encourager, the same as my husband is for me. It’s wonderful to have that support! We’ve both worked in similar industries, and I’ve attended Community Bible Study here locally. How wonderful for you to live in such a fabulous part of the country! We visited Williamsburg and Monticello two years ago for my son’s high school graduation trip. That was his choice, and we never tire of revisiting that lovely region. A HEART SET FREE sounds like a wonderful book, and I love trilogies. Congratulations on its release, and I’ll look forward to checking it out. Blessings!


    • Since you write contemporary romances, JoAnn, it’ll be fun for you to step back in time. But love is still the same. 🙂


    • Thank you, JoAnn. Williamsburg is a wonderful area to live in. The weather is great year round with just enough of each season. A small town atmosphere in the best sense, yet with a sophistication and fascinating people from every walk of life. Years before we relocated, I fell in love with the serenity of Williamsburg, but also love all the history around me.That’s terrific that you have access to a CBS class. It’s such a rewarding way to study the Scriptures and make true friends. I hope that you do get a chance to read the book and enjoy it.


  2. What a great interview. Thank you Clarice!! And I love that cover 😁


  3. Great interview!!! And I love that cover 😁


  4. Janet, congrats on winning the Selah Award! Your story sounds interesting and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book!


    • Thanks for commenting, Jodie. I happily recommend Janet’s book! Thoroughly researched historical fiction filled with believable characcters.


    • Thanks, Jodie. Winning the Selah was such a surprise. The other two finalists are multi-published, multi-award winning writers. I hope that A Heart Set Free blesses you.


  5. What a treat this interview was. Thank you, Clarice and Janet. I’m looking forward to reading A Heart Set Free. I love books that are interconnected yet not dependent on one another. Congratulations on the Selah Award, Janet! May God abundantly bless your writing projects .


  6. Janet, A Heart Set Free sounds like a delightful story. I enjoy visiting with historical characters and watching them learn and grow through their experiences. It’s always a bonus if I ‘leave’ the location with new knowledge or something to think about that I can apply to my own life, or perhaps help someone else.

    Congratulations on the wonderful award as you write for God’s glory!


  7. Thank you for weaving faith together with your expertise of history into this story.
    I adore the cover!


  8. Thank you Clarice for the interview, since I love your books it’s nice to connnect to other authors you know. My first thought on reading the interview was , “is there a happy ending”.? In history there isn’t always a “happy” ending, but with the LORD we don’t need “happy”. Will read! I love historical fiction.


  9. So nice to learn how the two of you share your writing journey. That type of camaraderie brings such joy to an often solitary journey. Thanks, Clarice, for this interview.

    And Janet ~ I’m so glad to learn of your book. Sounds like the kind of story I love to dive into. Like your first reviewer quoted above, I often slow down as I read a captivating story. I’ve been know to do that with Liz Curtis Higgs stories (set in Scotland! Sensing a lot of interest intersections) and Laura Frantz who writes historical romance set in America’s early days. I’m eager to read the stories from both you gals. Blessings on you both.


  10. I agree Clarice’s books are terrific. I hope you enjoy A Heart Set Free.


  11. Great interview. I enjoy getting to know authors. I then start to look for parts of them in their work. Like a treasure hunt!

    I see we have similar taste in books (A Town Like Alice!) so I’m betting I’ll like your books.

    Congratulations on your honor.


    • I love thinking of being on a treasure hunt when we read! Thanks for that visual, Barb.


    • You’re right brab608, there is always a bit of the author’s experience in a book. Perhaps that’s why I so enjoyed Party of One so much. I felt like Clarice was right in the room with me. I still get the Town Like Alice DVD out periodically just to get a fix. I hope you like A Heart Set Free.


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