Friday, August 20, 2010

Answer the Call by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Welcome to Fortifying Friday. Some of you have received “the call” from an agent or editor with news of an offer. Some are still waiting. Author Jill Elizabeth Nelson joins us today to share her journey to publication, and a reminder of our most important call. Enjoy!

Answer the Call

My cell phone rang, and I jolted up stiff at the table. Then I slipped out of the room into the hotel hallway, leaving behind the clatter of utensils on plates at the writers’ conference awards banquet. I stared at the phone’s caller ID and swallowed my heart back into place. My agent was on the other end. What news would she have about my novel manuscript that went to committee today at Multnomah Publishers?

That was the year 2005.

My writer’s journey began well before that as an introverted child with her nose constantly in a book. In the sixth grade, I was blessed with a teacher who perched on a stool at a certain time each day and read to the class from the most imaginative stories. Something in this process awakened a realization in me—I didn’t merely want to be a person who received pleasure from a good book; I wanted to be the person who gave that pleasure to others.

I knuckled down right away and wrote my first novel—a perfectly awful mystery about a group of kid sleuths. Not a shred of that manuscript yet exists, and the world is grateful. But starting and completing an entire novel is a watershed moment in any writer’s life, one that many would-be’s never reach.

In 1979, I graduated from college with a degree in literature and creative writing. But with marriage and four small children, freelance writing faded into a distant dream.

In the late eighties, I tried to revive my novelist aspirations, but my motive was money, not ministry. I even garnered favorable attention from an agent, but she urged me to write in directions that made me uncomfortable. Could I ignore my Christian values in order to bring in the extra money our family desperately needed? In the end, I could not, and I thank the Lord for sustaining me through the temptation. But the experience was so stressful that I laid down the dream for good—or so I thought.

In the year 2000, with my children starting to leave the nest, a story grew in me. The compulsion to write was like the need to breathe. I finished that manuscript and moved on to another, then another. As I worked, the Lord connected me with Christian Writers Group and then American Christian Fiction Writers. In 2002, I won a scholarship from CWG to attend the writers’ conference at Mt. Hermon, which led to contacts in the publishing world that sustain me today.

Finally, my romantic suspense manuscript, Reluctant Burglar, went to committee at Multnomah Publishers while I was attending the 2005 Christian Writers Group conference, which was themed “Answer the Call.”

Now I stood in the hotel hallway with the ringing phone in my hands. What else could I do? I answered the call.

Fellow writers, answer your call in the Lord’s timing. He knows how to prepare us for the fulfillment of the desire He’s put in our hearts. I’m living testimony that if God can bring the dream to pass for this nobody special from nowhere in particular, He can do it for anybody.


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. Her September 2010 release, Legacy of Lies, is her eighth novel. Her debut trilogy, the To Catch a Thief series, published by Multnomah Books, was recently re-released in hard cover, large print by Thorndike Press. Jill speaks and teaches regularly at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. She 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

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