Meet Writer Jill Nutter

Jill Nutter writes Regency romance with a twist. Her award-winning story, Asylum of the Heart, is a historical suspense. She tackles a subject for which she’s been uniquely prepared. A social worker for 27 years, Jill has crafted a heroine who isn’t enamored by the world of gossip and gowns. Instead, she wants to help the orphans living within the walls of Ashcroft Insane Asylum–a repulsive place they do not belong. Her hero, an earl, also defies society, desiring to be a doctor, a profession to which no typical nobleman aspires.

By day, Jill is employed as a counselor for nursing students. By night, she writes inspirational romance to further her passion and calling. Born in Florida and raised in Pennsylvania, she headed to West Virginia for college, worked a year in New Jersey and then returned to further her education in WV. During her senior year, she spent a semester abroad living in Oxford, England studying British Literature and fell in love with British culture. She earned a BA in Sociology from Bethany College and a Masters in Social Work from West Virginia University.

Cincinnati, Ohio is now home, where Jill lives with her social worker husband and two teenage daughters. In addition, Jill’s 84-year-old mother may soon be living with them permanently.

Jill’s family owns four cats: Lucky, Yuma, Snow and Holden, and two dogs, Abu and Bandit, who just happen to be half brothers and look nothing alike. Abu looks like a Bichon but isn’t, and Bandit is part Shizu but acts like a giant behemoth. When Jill isn’t caring for her family, counseling or crafting her stories, she likes to read mysteries and suspense with a romantic edge, walk and work on character collages for her novels.

Join me as we learn more about Jill and her writing journey.

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Jill Nutter

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Jill Embarks on Her Journey

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•You’ve been writing romance for over ten years. Did the call to write come unexpectedly, or has writing long been a dream of yours?

I’m not one of those fortunate folks who always knew they wanted to write. I didn’t have much interest in writing until I had my first child, which is really bad timing. That was in 1989 and I’d been reading some romances and foolishly thought, “I can do that.” If I’d known how hard it was going to be I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. However, I am very tenacious. I love a challenge, and writing is something that can always be improved upon. It’s something I can do for the rest of my life.

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•Is Asylum of the Heart your first work of fiction, or have you written others? What story would you say is the book of your heart and why?

Asylum of the Heart was my second book. I’ve recently re-titled this novel, Secrets of the Heart, and hope to make a three-book series from it called, The Ravensmoore Chronicles. I think each and every story I write is a book of my heart or I wouldn’t have written it.

My first book was also a Regency era historical, Dreams in the Mist, and I learned how to write that book because of Romance Writers of America®, my local Ohio Valley RWA and my first critique group; we are still writing and meeting today. I have recently joined two other on-line critique groups and am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers.

I also love of romantic comedy and have two contemporaries partially completed. I have to find my contemporary voice, though, and that’s hard for me to do when I’m deep into the history of the Regency. I better stick to one story at a time.

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•There are very few Regency romances available in the inspirational market, so it’s exciting to see that you’ve written one. What led you to write a Regency that incorporates the faith element?

Bear with me here. I don’t remember what year this was but I attended a conference in Indiana and won a door-prize. That just happened to be a bundle of books that included Robin Lee Hatcher’s novel The Forgiving Hour. I read that novel in one night and it’s a rare book that makes me do that. I love to sleep.

I started thinking about my faith and why I hadn’t seen more novels like Robin’s, because we all have some kind of belief system, even if we choose not to believe. My faith was important to me and I thought it was wrong to leave it out of my writing. The faith element truly rounds out a character’s personality just like it does for all of us.

So to answer the question, I wanted all of my characters to struggle with, reject, and/or embrace their faith in my books. Since I was writing Asylum at the time it was only natural to incorporate the faith element, but I had completed at least part of the novel before I decided to do this so I had to go back and rewrite.
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Jill’s Process

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•What is the spark for your stories? A character? A setting? A scene?

I think it’s almost always a character trying to achieve some objective that is important to them, but setting is very important to me as well. I love a story with a dark element.

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•What parts of a story so captivate you that hours can go by without you noticing?

It’s rare that I sit at the keyboard and write for more than two hours. I can’t do it. I have to take breaks.

I love a villain. I can write about the bad guy more easily than the hero. Go figure. I think that’s how I get out my frustration when I’ve had a bad day.

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•And what parts of a story are so challenging you decide doing the dishes sounds like a better idea than sitting at the keyboard?

Every time I stare at the blank page, but I force myself work through it.
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•You’ve been working as well as caring for both children and a parent. As one of the Sandwich Generation busy meeting the needs of your family, how do you carve out time for your writing from a very full schedule?

It’s hard! Since I’m not published and haven’t had to meet any real deadlines, I don’t panic when I can’t write. I have found that it is easier to write when I write everyday. I can do that well with revisions, but when it’s a brand new idea and I’m trying to pound out a first draft. . . . let’s just say I don’t pound very fast.

I wrote my first book by writing one page a day just to see if I could do it. It was a good experience. I sometimes will write on my lunch break at work, and evenings are when I can get the most done. I’ve found that using a timer and racing against the clock is a good way to self-manage.
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Pinnacles

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Your work has received a number of accolades through the years. You’ve finaled or placed in several contests. Congratulations on your success.

•What was your first final or win, and how did you react to the news?

I think my first final was through my local Ohio Valley RWA chapter and although I know I was happy, the entire experience was dwarfed by the fact that my oldest child was in the hospital for depression. This would be the beginning of a very long trial for my family.

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•What was your most recent final or win? Do you still get excited when a contest coordinator calls or emails?

My last win is actually posted on my blog and the contest was called, “Inspiration for Writers Can’t Lose Novel Contest.” It was a great win because I got all kinds of cool writing stuff and a critique of up to 15,000 words. I will always get excited when someone calls and gives me good news about anything and especially about my writing.

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•Of all your contest successes, which have meant the most to you and why?

The most exciting final had to be the RWA Mystery and Suspense Chapters Daphne award for the inspirational category. The reason it was so exciting was that I was able to attend the RWA conference in Atlanta, Georgia and got to sit with my buddies, Colleen Coble (middle), who won for one of her many published inspirational suspense novels, and writer, Ronda Wells (right), who won the unpublished category.

Jill Nutter, Colleen Coble and Ronda

Jill Nutter, Colleen Coble and Ronda Wells

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•And I hear you just received some good news of a different kind. Please share so we can squeal with you.

I am so fortunate to have found an agent this month who will be my champion. She was worth the wait. I just signed with Kimberly Shumate, who recently started Living Word Literary Agency. I am very excited about this opportunity as you can imagine. 🙂
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Potholes

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•Since you’ve been writing for over a decade, you’re probably no stranger to discouragement and doubts. How do you handle them?

Funny you should ask that. I think as I’ve grown in my Christian faith I’ve become better equipped to deal with my fears and doubts. But there are still times when I get deeply discouraged and then I know it’s time to pray about what is troubling me and to reach out to my good friends.

My husband, Randy, is my best friend and helps keep me on track. I have many writer friends who help me with writing issues and concerns. I find it helpful to pick a scripture and let it lead me. My scripture for June is Joshua 1:9 which speaks of courage and of not being afraid.

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•As a mental health professional, do you have suggestions for those of us dealing with the downsides of following our dream of being published–rejections, disappointing contest feedback, fears that our work will never be “good enough”?

I know from life experience that we don’t always get what we want (I think I remember those lyrics) and that includes publication. We should write because we love it and have a passion to share our stories, but if we only focus on publication, and not the journey, we might miss the most important parts of life.

I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1990 and I’m still not published, but I wouldn’t have missed the journey for anything. I’ve made so many friends and learned so much. I can’t imagine not having my writing and those who have helped me improve my craft over the years.

So, persevere, study, go to conferences, and carve out your own niche to write. Check your attitude once in awhile and make sure you are choosing a good one, help other writers, learn from your mistakes, know how to accept constructive criticism and monitor your own mental health. Depression is a hazard for many people but I think it can be especially difficult for writers.
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Jill’s Journey Continues

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Asylum of the Heart has garnered some nice awards. What’s next? Are you submitting the story? Has there been interest?

Yes, there has been interest and now that I have an agent on my side I hope there is even more. I would like to see a three-book series for The Ravensmoore Chronicles.

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•What are you working on now? Another Regency historical suspense? Or are you trying something different?

Yes. I am working on another Regency suspense novel, and my husband and I are working on a non-fiction book we have currently titled Coping With Your Child’s Mental Illness. You can read more about that on my website.

And I’ve actually tried to rewrite the first several pages of Dreams in the Mist as a spiritual warfare novel. I’m not sure that’s going to work, but you never know.  Have you ever read a spiritual warfare novel set during the Regency? Anybody out there want to read one?
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Five Facts About Jill the Writer

James Scott Bell and Jill

James Scott Bell and Jill

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~ Pantser or plotter?

It used to be pantser, but since I met Jim Bell at Mt. Hermon I plot too.

~ Character-driven or plot-driven?

Character driven, but I like to say both. I think you have to have both for a great story.

~ Where do you write?

Anywhere I can, and barefoot if possible.

~ What food/beverage fuels your creativity?

Definitely Chi Tea and chocolate.

~ Do your own stories make you laugh, cry and/or sigh?

I’ve been through some pretty tough times so I don’t cry much when I write, but I can laugh out loud over something funny and sigh when I write, THE END. I love to look for laugh opportunities.
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Five Fun Facts About Jill the Person

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~ I am a Star Trek fan. The crew of the starship Enterprise sparked my imagination when I was growing up on the family farm a long time ago in Pennsylvania.

~ I used to ride in horse shows and also did some three-day-eventing (dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping). At one event I ran over the judge.

~ I love to go to the movies and if no one will go with me I’ll go alone.

~ I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan and get a big kick out of dinosaurs.

~ I have a movie poster of Ioan Gruffudd in Amazing Grace hanging in my home office.
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Jill’s Question for You

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Jill. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. And now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors. What would you like to know?

You are very welcome, Keli, and thanks for this great opportunity. What a wonderful way to use a blog.

My question to all of you visitors is this: If you were looking through a magazine for a picture of someone who could become a hero in the next novel you read or the next novel you write, would he look more like: 1)Hugh Jackman, 2) Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 3) Ioan Gruffudd, 4) Johnny Depp, or 5) Jim Caviezel? And if you don’t know who they are get your search engines running.
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Learn More About Jill

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Visit her Web site: http://www.jillnutter.com
Visit her blog: Jill’s Journal
Friend her on Facebook: Jill Nutter

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Leave a Comment for Two Chances to Win

My Regular Drawing

My next drawing will take place July 20th.

The winner will receive a vinyl lined bikini bag, which is just the thing to toss in your tote for a trip to the pool, beach or seaside resort.

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Bikini Bag.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by July 20th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On July 21st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.

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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and July 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On August 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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42 Responses to Meet Writer Jill Nutter

  1. Debra says:

    Hi Jill,
    It’s nice to read these things and get to know you more. It’s funny we both chose an asylum for our settings. I love your work and I hope to see you published soon. Congratulations on signing with your agent.
    Good things in store for you, I’m sure.
    See you “around” the web.
    Debra

  2. Hi Jill –

    Congratulations on signing with an agent! Your patience has paid off. It gives me hope. 🙂

    I’m not a big movie buff, so I wouldn’t model a character around a star. My own method is to observe people in various situations. Little quirks, mannerisms, favorite expressions all get thrown into the mix and out pops a character.

    Blessings,
    Susan 🙂

  3. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Dianne,
    Great to see you on line here. Thanks for the good wishes.

  4. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Jess!
    Contests. It’s a love/hate relationship. I’m sure for you and anyone else who has entered a contest that many times you get three scores. One is typically high, one is low and one is in the middle. So how do I decipher all that?

    First of all I try never to get freaked out by low scores. I always learn something from them…eventually.:) I read through all the scores pretty quickly, jump up and down for the good scores and sigh over the not so good ones. Then I set them aside for a couple days and read through all the comments later. Almost every judge has something worthy to say. I use what I think will help me most at the time and then I see how it works in my project. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

    Perseverence is the name of the game. Writing is something I enjoy so I’m going to keep on keeping on no matter what. When I get discouraged I talk to my writing buddies, eat too much, and then get back at it.:)
    Hope that helps. What do you do?

  5. NancyNurse says:

    Jill –
    Excellent interview! My vote is for Hugh Jackman — though I noticed a definite lack of blonds in your male choices.
    I admire your perseverence in continuing to write despite all sorts of trials and tribulations over the years. You go girl!

  6. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Debra!
    Do we know how to pick a setting or what? 🙂 I’ve always been fascinated by asylums and still have much I want to study. Thanks for your optimism and encouraging words.

  7. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Susan!
    You said, “And out pops a character.” 🙂 Love it. Thanks for all your kind words and helping me on my blog that’s still getting off the ground. I appreciate it.
    This writing business sure does force one to become patient if it’s not a natural part of our personalities. Here’s to patience.:)
    Smiles!

  8. Jill Nutter says:

    Hey Nancy!
    You know I thought about that lack of blonde candidates when I was reviewing my hero types and for some reason (I think it’s because of Sean Bean)I just gravitated toward those gorgeous tall, dark and handsome guys.:)
    Hope all is well in Pa.

  9. Congrats on the agent, Jill! I just popped over from historical fic group. I look forward to seeing your book come out. I plan on buying a copy, so let us know!

    Victoria Dixon

  10. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Victoria,
    Thanks for the support. And when this book sells I’ll be so happy to share that information with all the great folks who have helped me along the way. See you over at our historical fiction group.

  11. Vicki Cato says:

    Hi Jill,
    I loved reading about the runaway horse and how you handled the situation.

    Congratulations on getting an agent. I’m sure you are on your way to publishing success! Having read your work, I know that you are a terrific writer.

  12. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Vicki!
    I don’t think I handled that horse situation. The horse had complete control. 🙂

    I couldn’t be happier about my agent, Kimberly Shumate. It’s so weird talking about having an agent because I’ve been so long without one.

    Thanks for the compliment and thanks for helping me brainstorm when we were at The Blue Ridge Retreat last October. I do appreciate your friendship.
    Hugs!

  13. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Everyone,
    It’s time for me to say good-bye. Keli, you are doing a wonderful job with this blog and providing a great opportunity for so many of us as we pursue our writing careers. Thank you for allowing me to spend time with you and those who follow this blog.

    Thanks to all of you who took the time out of your busy schedules to come chat with me this week and share in my journey. I wish you happy reading experiences, productive writing time, and hearts full of hope while following your passions.

    Smiles and Blessings,
    Jill

  14. Just discovered this, a little late it seems. Jill, I enjoyed meeting you here. I’ll be back!

  15. Jill Nutter says:

    Hi Linda,
    Glad you stopped by even if it is a tad late. 🙂 You can talk to me at these places if you like:
    http://www.jillnutter.com
    Visit her blog: Jill’s Journal
    Friend her on Facebook: Jill Nutter
    Have a great day!

  16. you blogs are so funny, I would like to win anything, winning something is so much fun, I went to a thrift store yesterday and they were selling large bags of junk for .50 each, you couldn’t tell everything that was in them but I bought 3 and had so much fun going through them. I got a few things that I can use but a lot of it went in the trash, but what fun.

    mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

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