Welcome, Jill. Tell us about your salvation experience.
I came to Jesus with all my heart at summer Bible camp when I was about ten years old. But then my faith went dormant through some rather wild high school and college years. When I got out of college and was casting around for direction in my life, I realized I was tired of feeling lost and alone. I scooted right back into the arms of Father God, who was patient and faithful all along, even when I wasn’t.
How did you and your husband meet?
At a home Bible study. It wasn’t love at first sight, but almost. At about the third or fourth meeting, I looked across the room and knew that I knew that I knew he was the one for me. We were married within the year. Going on 29 years later, we’ve raised four children and are enjoying our precious first grandchild.
James and met three months and three days before we married, and we'll celebrate 45 years together later this year. Now Jill, you’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
I’ve been on a couple of writers retreats with fellow Minnesota authors, and they were so awesome, I would go with all of them again in a heartbeat. But that’s more than four. It might be fun to go again to the Denver area and meet up with my dear, gracious friend and awesome author, Donita K. Paul. We’d want to include her up-and-coming author daughter, Evangeline Denmark, and our mutual bud, Megan DiMaria. That’s only three, but I’m sure they could invite someone else along. I go to writers’ retreats to fellowship with like-minded, wacky writers so we can uplift and encourage one another. We share our hearts, as well as have an all around hilarious time.
Yes, I've only been on a few of these, but they are awesome. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
I love, love, love to talk about my passion for Christian fiction. Most recently, I was invited to do a session at a librarians’ retreat in the Twin Cities. This was primarily a secular group, but the librarians had noticed how the “inspirational fiction” flew off the shelves, so they wanted to hear more about this phenomenon. Most were quite flabbergasted to see for themselves the quality and variety that Christian fiction has achieved. This branch of fiction is no longer limited to prairie romance and nothing like the sermonizing between book covers that they had assumed. It was awesome to be able to visit that epiphany on such an influential group in the book world.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
I don’t know that this is the most embarrassing thing ever, but it’s the most recent embarrassing thing. My husband and I and another couple went camping at a nearby state park for Memorial Day weekend. So here we are all settled into our side-by-side campsites, just about ready to enjoy a meal of grilled chicken, when a monster-sized camper stops on the road beside our sites and a puzzled-looking man gets out. He approaches us and asks, “Are you sure you have the right camp sites? Our names are on the reservations tags.” Sure enough, we look at the green tags on the posts by the sites, and the names aren’t ours!
What happened? I made the reservations weeks in advance . . . the only trouble is, I made them for the weekend AFTER the holiday. Memorial Day fell early this year, so I got my dates mixed up. Oh, man, that was an uncomfortable situation!
What could I do but apologize to everyone concerned—my husband, our friends, the people whose sites we were squatting on. I’m thankful they were all so gracious about it. We had to pack up and move out, of course. The good news (and something of a miracle on a holiday weekend) is that the park manager got us a couple of sites on the other side of the campground. These sites had full water, sewer, and garbage hookups, but they rented them to us for the same price as the electric-only sites we had before. Praise the Lord!
The world is full of nice people, if we only look around us. People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
First of all, get beyond the wishing phase and start. Second, persevere through the work of it. Third, finish the book. If an aspiring author can actually get that far, then there’s hope that maybe some years down the road, they’ll actually have something publishable. (Most folks never get past the wishing phase.)
That's a true, but sad fact. Tell us about the featured book?
I so enjoyed writing a multi-cultural adventure set in my home state of Minnesota. Multi-cultural, you say? Swedish and Norwegian perhaps? No, a bit more diverse than that. My heroine is half Norwegian, half Nigerian—a pretty interesting combo that plays quite large in the story.
Here’s the short blurb about the story:
Poised for an interview, TV reporter Hallie Berglund walks into a murder scene instead. The victim’s boyfriend stands over the body, murder weapon in hand. Hallie couldn’t stop the crime, but as the star witness, she’ll see the man brought to justice . . . right? Not according to her colleague Brody Jordan, who is convinced the police—and Hallie—are targeting the wrong man. To prove it, he’ll need Hallie’s help. The victim was wearing a bracelet handcrafted by Hallie’s long-dead mother. Now Hallie is the only one who can unearth the secrets of the past—and bring the sinister truth to light.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Channel Six television news reporter Hallie Berglund put her fight foot on the bottom step of the swaybacked porch, then stopped cold. The hairs on her arms prickled. What was that awful noise coming from inside the house? Some kind of music? This century-old Victorian was rented by four University of Minnesota coeds, but even if they liked punk rock, they wouldn’t listen to this. And why was the front door several inches ajar?
Careful to keep the heels of her pumps from clacking against the wood, she walked up the remaining two steps, but angry creaks from the porch boards announced her arrival. Whoever—whatever—was inside gave no indication her approach had been heard. The noise progressed in decibels.
Hallie frowned. There had to be a logical explanation. On the telephone, Alicia Drayton had sounded eager, almost desperate, to do the interview as soon as possible. The part-time fashion model and full-time student had said her roommates would be out all afternoon—a perfect opportunity for the two of them to talk privately.
The sound continued—long, drawn out. Like something a person would hear on a dark and moonless night, not in the balmy afternoon of a cloudless June day. She doused the impulse to back away and wait for her cameraman to catch up with her. She was a reporter, and she needed to find out what was going on. Sooner rather than later.
That's a real hook. I can't wait until I receive my copy of the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My web site is http://www.jillelizabethnelsoncom/. I run a monthly contest for signed copies of my books and regularly give away other people’s books on my blog. Sign up for my newsletter for extra chances at freebies and to keep up on what’s next in the pipeline.
Thank you, Jill, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link to order Witness to Murder:
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