I’m so excited to introduce author, speaker and teacher Jill Elizabeth Nelson.
Where did you grow up? I am a PK (pastor’s kid) so I grew up in a variety of rural Minnesota and South Dakota communities. I ended up graduating from Pipestone High School. Pipestone was the largest community we ever lived in. My most consistent Minnesota locality when growing up was Madison, the town in which I currently live. My mother’s parents lived there, so we would visit regularly, but I never thought I’d wind up marrying a farmer from this area and settling down here!
What did you want to be when you grew up? It was a bit of a toss-up between a cowgirl and a jockey. I was horse nuts! Never could understand why we couldn’t keep at least a pony in our garage at any of the various parsonages in which we lived. LOL. By the time I hit 6th grade I was already aware of my urge to write stories. I was an avid reader but sometime during that school year I realized that I wasn’t content to be merely receive pleasure from good books; I wanted to be the person who gave that pleasure to others.
Wow. That’s amazing insight for someone so young. How did your writing journey start? I tried my hand at various kinds of writing—though fiction was my favorite, and becoming a published novelist was my ultimate goal. In high school, I had my own column in the school newspaper and won second or third place in a poetry contest. In college, my major was Literature and Creative Writing. I graduated from college in 1979, and while I considered my options, I got a job that I considered temporary in that little Madison burg I’ve talked about. A master’s degree was on the short list of alternatives, but I married and gave birth to four children instead. Hah!
What happened to your writing career at that point? The dream of becoming a published novelist went to the back burner while the kids were little, but along about the turn of the century that dormant dream went active again, and I began to write every day. In fact, writing became a compulsion! I believe that was a total God-thing—His timing. Then I came across a couple of excellent on-line writers groups where I began to enjoy the fellowship of other Christian writers. That daily writing habit began to pay off in opportunities to publish short pieces—everything from articles to essays to book reviews. At writers’ conferences, I met with agents and editors who took an interest in my progress.
At last, in 2005 I received my first contract for a series of novels. Reluctant Burglar, Reluctant Runaway, and Reluctant Smuggler were published between 2006 and 2008. Since then I have released seven more novels. My most recent release is Betrayal on the Border, and I just turned in the manuscript for my next book entitled Shadow of Suspicion.
Boy, when your career took off, it took off! What is a lesson you’ve learned during that journey? Three “P’s” of publication success are Patience, Practice, and Persistence. Patience because this process often takes longer than you anticipate. Practice because only by writing constantly does one become a writer. And Persistence because most writers could paper a wall with their rejection slips before publication starts happening.
Tell us about your current work. Betrayal on the Border released in November 2012. I had a great time writing this book because I did a role reversal with a countercultural heroine. She’s an Army special ops officer who acts as bodyguard to the investigative reporter. The pair dodges assassins while digging up the truth behind a massacre perpetrated by a drug cartel on the U.S./Mexico border.
I wrote the book in four months. Three to four months is fairly normal for anything I write for the Love Inspired Suspense line. However, I wrote Shadow of Suspicion (the manuscript I just finished) in two months. I lost a month due to spending most of January in Thailand on a mission trip—which was an awesome experience, by the way!
Have you written any non-fiction work? I’ve had the opportunity to publish numerous short, non-fiction pieces and to participate in non-fiction anthologies, but I’ve put together only one complete non-fiction book. Technically, I would call it a handbook because of its brevity, but part of the appeal of the book is its concise nature. Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View became available to fiction writers everywhere a year ago in March and has pleasantly surprised me with its consistent and continuous sales. Apparently, the book is meeting a felt need among the fiction writing community–secular, as well as Christian. Details are on my web site.
It’s definitely a must-read for every writer. What’s something that has surprised you on your writing journey? I’m pleasantly surprised by the help and encouragement found along the way. Some of my best fans are also fellow writers, who know exactly what to say to comfort me when I need it and supply the loving boot in the bum when necessary. In the secular writing world, I don’t know that this mutual fan club of writers-helping-writers is common. I’ve heard not. So to my fellow Christian writers, many thanks from the bottom of my heart!
What are your future plans and goals around writing? I believe I’m getting close to the point at which I can begin to move into that relatively rare status of “full time writer.” Up to this point, I have also worked full time outside the home. I like my day job though, so I’ll be content to ease, rather than leap, into that transition.
What’s something most people don’t know about you? In addition to speaking and teaching in regard to writing, I’m also available to teach and preach the Bible as a lay minister.
Wow, you have all sorts of talents! Thanks so much for being here, Jill.
You can contact Jill at any of the following:
On the web at: www.jillelizabethnelson.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillElizabethNelson.Author
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JillElizNelson
Her books can be found at a variety of bookstores and online.
Her latest release is Betrayal on the Border from Love Inspired Romantic Suspense.