Monday, February 20, 2012

Meet Debut Author, Regina Jennings

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and homeschools their four children.

I first met Regina in the ACFW Large Crit Group. Not only was I impressed with her magnificent storytelling, I was excited to read a novel set in my ol' stomping grounds...South Texas. It was no surprise to me that two years later, when I met Regina in person at ACFW conference, there were Bethany House posters featuring her debut novel displayed just beside us. Her story, Sixty Acres and A Bride, made its way to retailer bookshelves last month, and once you pick it up, you'll find it difficult to put down! Before we hear from Regina, here's a little blurb for those of you who haven't read it yet:

She's Finally Found a Place to Call Home... How Far Will She Go to Save It?

With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. They welcome her vivacious spirit and try to help her navigate puzzling American customs. She can't help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future.

Regina, tell us a little bit about the beginning stages of your story. Where did you get your inspiration for Sixty Acres and a Bride?

I was writing a Ruth and Boaz skit for a church production and had big plans for it—secondary characters, subplots, and a love story that didn’t get ironed out until they’d been married for a spell. Right as the dialogue started to jell I learned that the skit could only be fifteen minutes long. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Boaz was being played by a father of three and Ruth by our Youth Minister’s fiancée. No chemistry allowed.

The production was awesome—the first cowboy Ruth and Boaz skit that anyone had ever seen—but I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to the characters. By then Ruth and Boaz had been replaced by Rosa and Weston and they were begging for their story to be told.

That is awesome! I love theatre! Rosa and Wes definitely come to life as if we were watching a play. Besides the stage, what other ways you apply the saying, "Write what you know"?

My favorite historical setting is Early Modern Europe complete with the explorers, the Reformation, and the Tudors. I’d love to spin a tale of courtly intrigue, but just writing a book was going to be hard enough. I didn’t need the added challenge of putting on fancy, aristocratic airs. Instead I chose a setting and a voice that was very familiar to me. Both my family and my husband’s family have strong agricultural roots and the Texas vernacular isn’t too far from Oklahoma-speak. I’m much more at home with 1880 Texas ranchers than I would be with Elizabethan courtiers. Even Rosa wasn’t too much of a stretch thanks to our yearly mission trips to Mexico.

After reading the book, I can definitely say you have grasped the Texas vernacular to a "T"! ;) With the wonderful detailed plot and the purpose-driven writing in Sixty Acres and A Bride, I'd love to know if you are you a panster or plotter.

I’m somewhere in between, possibly a panster in denial. I like to have the major turning points plotted out before I get very far into the story (my editor appreciates that, too), but as I start writing I revise—sometimes turning the plot in a totally new direction. I reckon my final answer is that I always have a map showing me where I’m going, but I might switch maps mid-journey.

Sounds very familiar. My plots always end up in a different direction once I get right down to it. I have found being plugged into the writing community has helped me understand more about my panster tendencies.:)

What has been the most helpful advice or class you've taken as a writer?

Joining a critique group was life-changing. I started with my local ACFW group (OKC Christian Fiction Writers), but needed more than one session a month to be ready for conference, so I got plugged in to the online ACFW critique loop. Not only did I make some fantastic friends (including Angie!) but I learned how to apply the advice I was reading in articles and on blogs.

I agree, ACFW has a wealth of tools for writers, and some pretty fabulous members to connect with! Thank you so much, Regina!

Regina's Contact Info:




Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures. She is an ACFW member and CEO of a family of six.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Welcome, Regina! That has got to be one of the most beautiful covers EVER! I absolutely LOVE it! And I love the Ruth story set in Texas...Texas IS the best, you know.


Regina Jennings said...

Thanks Sherrinda! I'm in love with the cover and I love visiting Texas, too. So much history and such friendly people. Of course they are pretty friendly just north of the Red River, too, unless it's football season. ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Angie and Regina, for the fun interview. I loved reading how Rosa and Weston came to be, well, Rosa and Weston. :) I've never bee brave enough to write a play, but I've been in a few. :)

Thanks for sharing a bit about your writing journey, Regina. :)

Angie Dicken said...

Sherrinda, Love having a fellow Texan on the Alley! Regina, so true about football especially being an Aggie!;) Jeanne, I was also in a few plays years ago, I think acting is a gReat foundation for writing, don't you?:)

Lindsay Harrel said...

I'm from Texas originally (Tyler), so I love reading books set there. (On a side note, my family is from grandma lives in Moore and one in Altus!)

And when I read the description of your book, I thought, This sounds like the story of Ruth and Boaz! So good job making sure the description brought out that element without saying so. :)

Regina Jennings said...

Thanks for coming by Jeanne and Lindsay. Moore isn't far from our home, Lindsay.

I'm glad that the cover doesn't claim it's a Ruth/Boaz story because it's not meant to be a retelling, but there's no denying that the idea came from the Biblical story. I couldn't help but wonder "What would happen if someone found themselves in the same situation in Texas...?" How fun that was to picture!

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the great interview, ladies. I loved hearing how the story came about as a result of a script for a church play. Isn't it fun when our characters start chatting and won't stop until we've recorded their stories? This story sounds great.

Pepper said...

GREAT interview, Ang.
Welcome, Regina. Your story sounds remarkable.

Regina Jennings said...

Keli, I just saw your cover. It's beautiful! Congratulations.

Thanks Pepper. I'm enjoying my time here. :)

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

So nice to have you join the Alley today, Regina.
Great interview, Ang.
This story is intriguing says this Montana girl.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Great interview, Angie!


I'm so wanting to read this one, it sounds fantastic.

Speaking of that beautiful cover I'm pretty sure I've seen it somewhere else I like to frequent, the Sonlight forums. Love Sonlight! I'm always in double admiration of homeschooling authors, I think they must be masters in time management. ;)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Can I just say how much I love Regina? How fun to see her here!

Annnnd, I just downloaded her book to my Kindle, so I'm waiting for a good stretch of time when I can read it all in one sitting (since I hear I won't want to put it down once I start). :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Welcome Regina! Yes, I have to echo how beautiful that cover is. I was drawn to it the first time I saw it on someone else's blog. It popped up on my dashboard and I had to click to see it closer :) Thanks for stopping by!

Regina Jennings said...

Mary - I've never been a woman of mystery, so I'm glad to hear that at least my story sounds intriguing. ;)

Julia - another Sonlight mom! I've met so many writers who also homeschool. There's got to be a connection. Someone should research it.

Sarah - nice to see you here. I need to get an address from you I think.

Cindy - I absolutely adore the cover and I have to say it's prettier in person than on the screen (not to irritate our Kindle and Nook friends, just telling the truth).

Angie Dicken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Dicken said...

I am super impressed with moms like Regina and Julia...homeschooling and writing, my goodness! Super moms!

The cover IS beautiful in person and online! It is definitely one of the prettiest! As for the pages is so beautifully written and the ending won't disappoint!...I hope everyone gets a chance to read it! ;)
Thanks so much, Regina, for being here today! :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

Haha, Angie, I'm not at all. :) Hence my novel took a year and a half to write :). But I'm amazed at those that are able to do it on deadline with more than a few kiddos like Regina and Jody Hedlund.

Later coming back I realized how arrogant that comment probably sounded. I was not including myself at all because I don't think I balance it all that well.

I can't wait to read this one!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Regina,

Nice to meet you. I saw your book talked about somewhere in the cyber world (LOL) and went over to read the first few pages. WOW. I did not want to stop. Can't wait to read the whole story. Your writing just grabs the reader and doesn't let go!

And I agree - the cover alone would have grabbed me. Beautiful!

Congrats. Any other books in the works?


Regina Jennings said...

Angie - thanks for letting me visit!

Julia - Balancing isn't a perfect science. For me it means weaving back and forth, only correcting when I realize I've neglected something. Hopefully I'll get the hang of this.

Susan - Thank you! Yes, we have two more books in the works. They are each stand-alones, but readers will get to see their favorite Sixty Acres characters again.

Gia said...

Great interview! The book sounds like the kind I would eat up. And I agree with previous comments - the cover rocks!

Angie Dicken said...

Julia, I would never equate arrogance with you! You are one of my most humble cyber friends!;) I knew what you meant.:)
Regina, when you said balancing is like weaving in and out, I could only think of the Mariposa.;)

Regina Jennings said...

Thanks Gia.

Angie - you made me laugh. I promise my balancing act is nothing so graceful or alluring.