Before we meet today's author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for Wildflower Bride, by Mary Connealy, is:
lead@ . . .
Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address, and we'll get your book to you right away. I encourage readers to keep commenting and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!
Now let's revisit with novelist Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of Calculated Revenge (Steeple Hill, April 2010). Tell us about yourself, Jill.
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
-- I do not like sit-coms. Repeat: I do not like sit-coms. Well, maybe with the exception of a little Home Improvement. But that's an oldie. Most sit-coms today are too focused on off-color humor and licentious situations. (Don't you just love that long word for smutty?)
-- I'm not that fond of chocolate. Shocking, I know! I don't hate it, but I don't love it either.
-- Seafood is my favorite type of food, but I'm not all that picky--as my scale will tell you.
-- I've been to Jamaica, Thailand, and New Orleans during Mardi Gras (what an eye-popping experience!) for missions trips.
-- I don't write only suspense and mystery. I have unpublished manuscripts in the genres of contemporary women's fiction and fantasy that I hope to see on bookstore shelves one day.
Well, different and similar strokes, right, Jill? I'm a big sit-com fan and love chocolate. But I'm right there with you on the seafood, visited and loved Jamaica, and have a manuscript of my own written in a genre (supernatural) other than my usual romantic comedy. So we'd overlap in the Venn Diagram, for sure!
Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Calculated Revenge.
It's been eighteen years since Laney Thompson's sister was abducted and killed, but Laney's pain and haunting guilt has never faded. Now the murderer is back, taunting Laney with mementos of her sister and threatening Laney's young daughter. School principal Noah Ryder is her best hope for protecting her daughter--if she can convince the former investigator to take the case. As the threats escalate and clues lead to shocking secrets from the past, Laney's survival--and that of her daughter--depends on the rusty gifts and skills Noah wants only to forget.
What is it about your lead characters that will make your readers care about them?
My heroine is honest, sincere, sensitive, and caring. She's also fiesty and can be touchy and a bit blind in defense of her family. My hero is strong, honorable, protective, and determined, but ultra-cautious about relationships. They both struggle with guilt over past tragedies.
Why will readers enjoy your novel?
Danger to a child is one of the most riveting themes in fiction. Also, my hero and heroine struggle with issues of faith and forgiveness in the face of tragedy that will strike a resonant chord in readers' hearts.
If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?
Hmmm. I'd look for an Ann Hathaway type for Laney.
And probably a Matt Damon type for Noah.
Hathaway's got that wholesome look combined with spunk, and Damon embodies energy and focus with a hint of danger beneath those school-boy good looks.
Most writers struggle with the whole "show, don't tell" rule. For some, it can be difficult to even recognize when "telling" is happening. Please give us a brief example from your novel where you "show, and then write how that passage would have looked, had you "told."
Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View is one of my favorite classes to teach writers. Mastering Deep Point of View will eliminate most, if not all, issues with show/don't tell. Here's the opening paragraph of Calculated Revenge:
The grimy backpack rested abandoned against the playground fence. Laney Thompson's eyes riveted on the school bag, but her feet stuck to the gravel near the swings. What was the matter with her? The students had rushed less than a minute ago into the elementary school building after noon recess. One of them must have forgotten the bag. Simple explanation. Then why did her skin pebble as if she stood on this Minnesota playground in mid-January rather than the balmy end of May?
Here's that paragraph in "telling" mode:
The grimy backpack rested abandoned against the playground fence. Laney Thompson saw the pack and tried to move toward it, but something kept her from moving her feet. The students had rushed less than a minute ago into the elementary school building after noon recess. She thought one of them must have forgotten the bag. Simple explanation. She felt her skin pebble as if she stood on this Minnesota playground in mid-January rather than the balmy end of May.
What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?
Show/Don't Tell has become pretty second nature to me following the first round of edits with my debut novel, Reluctant Burglar, back in 2006. My editor for that book, Karen Ball, taught me well. Thank you forever, Karen!
I do still occasionally paint myself into a plot corner, and it takes prayer and divine inspiration to get me out. But that's a terrific growth part of the writing process.
Choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.
A pair of glasses. I'm an observer, and I'm always striving to see things more clearly. I also like to help others see things more clearly. I hope my books accomplish that on some level.
Oh, I like that, Jill.
What is the last book you read that moved you?
I recently read a book called Murder in the Choir by Joel B. Reed that thoroughy entertained me and dealt well with racism. I wouldn't necessearily categorize the book among "inspirational fiction," but it was a decent PG-13, which is pretty wholesome for what's out there in the secular mystery/suspense category. Amazingly enough, Reed is a self-published author from a small town near my own. I was thoroughly impressed by this man's writing skills. This is not usually the case with self-published novels, so he's the rare bird. Readers can look him at www.whiteturtlebooks.com.
What are you working on now?
I'm between contracts, but my agent is shopping a proposal for a story about a bee-keeping grandmother who is accused of murdering her brother at the exact moment her runaway daughter returns home with an infant son. The emotional and family issues will add a lot of nuance and spice to the suspense.
Where else can readers find you or your writing online?
My web site contains excerpts, links to buy, my speaking schedule, a monthly contest to win an autographed copy of my latest release, and an opportunity to sign up for my quarterly newsletter.
Pop on by at www.jillelizabethnelson.com. I also have a readers' group on Facebook. We chat about all sorts of things, book-wise. I'm also on Twitter and Shoutlife. Oh, and I have a blog on my web site, too. I give away lots of books there that are not my own. Here are links to these spots:
Jill Elizabeth Nelson Reader's Group on Facebook
And Jill's novel can be purchased through the following buttons:
Thanks, Jill, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Jill has offered to give a copy of her book to the winner of our drawing on Thursday, June 10. To enter, leave a comment for Jill, below. Leave your email address, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.
Check out my interviews with DiAnn Mills and Martha Rogers, below, and leave a comment under their interviews to be entered in drawings for signed copies of their books.
Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants. See full disclaimer HERE.
Finally, take a look at some of the terrific inspirational novels being released this month:
1. A Hopeful Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- An Historical from Bethany House. Can she turn her second-best chance into a golden opportunity?
2. A Love of Her Own; Heart of the West series by Maggie Brendan -- A Romance from Revell. April McBride has everything her heart desires . . .except the one thing money can't buy.
3. A Matter of Character; The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs, #3 by Robin Lee Hatcher -- A Romance from Zondervan. In 1918, writing dime novels simply isn't done by an heiress, so when Joshua looks for the author who's sullied his grandfather's name, he never suspects Daphne's the guilty party.
4. A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer -- An Historical from Bethany House. Sparks fly when a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity.
5. Almost Forever; Book 1, Hanover Falls Novels series by Deborah Raney -- Women's Fiction from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. Survivors of five fallen firefighters band together to try to make sense of the tragedy that took their loved ones.
6. Anna Finch and the Hired Gun; Women of the West series, Book 2 by Kathleen Y'Barbo -- A Romance from Waterbrook. When an aspiring reporter and a Pinkerton detective get tangled in Doc Holliday's story "and each other" sparks can't help but fly.
7. Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart -- Women's Fiction from FaithWords/Hachette. A coming-of-age story set in Texas in the 1950s as a young girl struggles with her own identity in light of her mother's mental illness.
8. End Game; Big Sky Secrets, book #3 by Roxanne Rustand -- A Romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Big Sky Secrets--a five-book Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense series set in the Rockies of Montana
9. Her Abundant Joy by Lyn Cote -- An Historical from Avon Inspired. Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?
10. Maid of Murder; India Hayes Mysteries, Book One by Amanda Flower -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Five Star Mystery. College librarian and reluctant bridesmaid, India Hayes, sets out to prove her brother's innocence when the bride is murdered.
11. Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist -- An Historical from Bethany House. Two servants at Biltmore House at the turn of the century find that God can take your life in a very different direction than you had planned.
12. Manor of the Ghost by Tina Pinson -- Women's Fiction from Desert Breeze. Kaitlin didn't believe in Ghosts, until she saw them in Devlin's eyes and heard them in the deafening silence of her son, Derrick.
13. My Son, John by Kathi Macias -- Women's Fiction from Sheaf House. Can God bring healing to a family torn apart by a brutal crime?.
14. Ruby Red; Ruby Red and The Colors of Home Series by Robin Shope -- A Multicultural from Sparklesoup. Eleven-year-old Ruby Red sneaks on board the Orphan Train, meant only for white children, with her pet cockroach in her pocket.
15. Sabotage by Kit Wilkinson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. Equine veterinary student Derrick Randall tries to help Olympic hopeful Emilie Gill find faith and a way to her Olympic dreams.
16. Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky -- A Romance from Waterbrook. When Marnie becomes the guardian of her Down syndrome nephew, will she run again?
17. Steadfast Soldier; Wings of Refuge #7 by Cheryl Wyatt -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. These soldiers of the skies are fearless, faithful...and falling in love.
18. The Heart's Song by Winnie Griggs -- An Romance from Love Inspired. Two lonely people work together to help others and ultimately find love.
19. The Homecoming; Sequel to The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh -- An Historical from Revell. Shawn Collins returns home from the dangers of WW2 to face the loss of his first love, but discovers God has set in motion a plan to heal his broken heart.