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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spotlight on Jill Elizabeth Nelson and Calculated Revenge

Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. Random questions will be inserted in each spotlight for you to find and answer in the comments in order to be entered. So, be on the lookout!


JILL ELIZABETH NELSON writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith, earning her the tagline: Endless Adventure, Timeless Truth. Jill speaks regularly at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. When teaching classes for writers, she delights in bringing the Ahah! moment to her students as they make a new skill their own. Jill and her husband live in rural Minnesota where they raised four children and are currently enjoying their first grandchild. Visit Jill on the web at

by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Published by Steeple Hill Suspense


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.

Readers, buy your copy of Calculated Revenge today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I'm passionate about kids--protecting them and educating them--and I've long wanted to do a story about child abduction. However, I also wanted to give the plot unique twists, so we're not just dealing with the standard pervert. My familiarity with public schools from former employment and sending four children through the system made a solid springboard for the story. I'm also a life-long native of small towns in Minnesota, so I know how they tick. It's an intriguing dynamic I hope my readers enjoy.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Setting was probably the story aspect most influenced by my own experiences and not so much the characters. However, my acquaintance with our local elementary school principal and various teachers helped with the primary concerns common to these kinds of occupations. The personality traits and history of my characters are pretty much their own. Noah and Laney, my hero and heroine, both struggle with ugly, gut-wrenching events in their past, along with the accompanying guilt and self-doubts. This creates a subtle bond between them that I capitalized on covertly throughout the story. My depiction of Laney's former neighbor is based on personal experience with alcoholics.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

You want us to try avoiding Rocky Road? LOL! Yes, I think that would be the flavor of every fiction plot on the planet, as well as the characters.

Laney, my heroine, is vanilla fudge brownie. She's a pure and honest soul, a wholesome girl-next-door type--hence the vanilla. However, veins and nuggets of depth and richness lie within. No wonder my reluctant hero finds her irresistible!

4. Are there any themes in Calculated Revenge that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope the reader sees the theme of forgiveness front and center. The depth of forgiveness required from my characters is cavernous, but not nearly the scope of what Jesus did for us. I hope the reader grasps that comparison and is helped to come to terms with the need to forgive others in their own life. The corrupting power of hatred and bitterness is the flip side to that forgiveness coin. I hope the reader takes the example played out in the story as a jolt of awareness--a spear to the gut, if you will, as to what could happen in their own soul if they don't let go of hurts and grudges, even those that seem just and deserved. If God gave us what was just and deserved, instead of His unmerited grace and favor, we'd all just be greasy spots on the road. His example must be our lifestyle if we are to enjoy peace and freedom in our hearts.

A more subtle theme would be an admonition not to accept people at face value, but to look through the eyes of the Holy Spirit to discern the heart. None of us are exactly who we appear to be on the outside. Kind of a scary concept, which should drive us closer to God for His protection and discernment.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I found it challenging to write the scene near the end where the heroine loses hope for her daughter and is confronted with the ugliness of unforgiveness in her own heart. Even though it was a difficult part to write on an emotional level, since Laney's loss and betrayal is so overwhelming, it was also one of my favorites because it was a deep, defining moment for both Noah and Laney. Through Laney's predicament, Noah is forced to confront his own need to forgive and let go.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Legacy of Lies releases to bookshelves in October from Steeple Hill. A cop's widow discovers the bones of an infant in her grandmother's back yard. Were her upright grandparents really the kidnappers and killers that took the son of the town's most prominent family decades ago? Is murder her legacy? In order to clear her family name, she must defy the clout of the town's founding family and team up with the last man on the planet she'd care to feel attraction for--another cop.

Question: How long has it been since Laney's kid sister disappeared, and have you ever tried to comfort someone who has lost a love one prematurely? Or have you ever been the person to experience such loss?

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Thank you, Jill, for being in the spotlight with us.

NEW!! Readers, answer the question associated with the spotlight in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Calculated Revenge. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to anyone nationwide.


windycindy said...

It has been 18 years since Laney's kid sister disappeared. I lost my brother to juvenile diabetes and then my mother four months later!
The loss put me in a fog for quite some time.
Thanks, Cindi

Esther Miriam Lopez said...

It's been eighteen years since she's dissapeared.

I lost my dad when I was 15 and he was 47.

Basically I started messing up big time since then and I only got over it all when the Lord touched me 2 year + ago.

Thanx for hosting this and please enter me.


Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this spotlight, and that is:

windycindy: jchoppes

Congratulations! I have sent your information to Jill so she can mail out your book.

Thank you to everyone for your support.