I’m delighted to introduce my next guest author, the amazing, talented romance author Regina Jeffers. She’s had quite an interesting career to date with much more to come. Let’s look at her bio and then move on to the interview, shall we?
Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
Regina: I have written 48 books.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Regina: I write Jane Austen-inspired variations, Regency era romance, romantic suspense/cozy mysteries, and the occasional contemporary.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Regina: I used Public Betrayal and Family Lies That Come Back to Bite to drive the story forward. The Heartless Earl is set in the Regency Era when divorce was a VERY public affair. The Church of England only permitted a “legal separation,” which was termed a “divorce,” a fact that blows the mind of the modern reader. To claim a divorce (the right to marry another), the man first had to seek the “legal separation” on the ground of adultery on the part of his wife. He also had to sue the wife’s lover for “criminal conversation” (alienation of affection) in a different court. The “lover” would be found guilty of “illegal intercourse,” and the court would award the husband damages. The next step would be to petition Parliament to end his marriage. Testimony would be taken regarding the circumstances. This testimony would be published in the newspapers, which meant a quiet end to a marriage was not possible. At length, the bill/petition would be agreed upon, and the couple were free to marry others.
STERLING BAXTER, the Earl of Merritt, has married the woman his father has chosen for him, but the marriage has been everything but comfortable. Sterling’s wife, Lady Claire, came to the marriage bed with a wanton’s experience. She dutifully provides Merritt his heir, but within a fortnight, she deserts father and son for a baron, Lord Lyall Sutherland. In the eyes of the ton, Lady Claire has cuckolded Merritt.
EBBA MAYER, longs for love and adventure. Unfortunately, she’s likely to find neither. As a squire’s daughter, Ebba holds no sway in Society; but she’s a true diamond of the first water. Yet, when she meets Merritt’s grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Merritt creates a “story” for the girl, claiming if Ebba is presented to the ton as a war widow with a small dowry, the girl will find a suitable match.
LORD LYALL SUTHERLAND remains a thorn in Merritt’s side, but when the baron makes Mrs. Mayer a pawn in his crazy game of control, Merritt offers the woman his protection. However, the earl has never faced a man who holds little strength of title, but who wields great power; and he finds himself always a step behind the enigmatic baron. When someone frames Merritt for Lady Claire’s sudden disappearance, Merritt must quickly learn the baron’s secrets or face a death sentence.
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Regina: I still hand write my books in spiral notebooks. I customarily sit in the same chair in my sitting room while doing this, joking saying my inspiration is hidden in the well-worn cushion. Then I type the manuscript. Think about it. That is actually my second draft, not my first.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Regina: I write best later in the evening, somewhere between 5 and 11 P.M. By that time of the day, there is no longer annoying spam callers or other interruptions to break my concentration. Sometimes, I play classical or baroque music, but it is not necessary. That being said, I can write anywhere, waiting in the car pool line at my grandchildren’s school, doctor’s offices, etc.
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Regina: My road to claiming a publisher was a fluke. When I was still teaching school, I was complaining about a particular book to my students. One student said: “If you know how to do it, do it yourself.” Therefore, I took up the challenge. I rewrote Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. I self-published it in a time when self-publishing was still called “vanity press.” I had one of my other students draw the cover so she could add “published artist” to her resume for college, and then forgot about it. By word of mouth, the book rose to #8 on Amazon’s sales’ list, and a traditional publisher in California contacted me and offered to publish that book and asked for more.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Regina: I think, first and foremost, being a voracious reader provides me the advantage of knowing what works and what does not work in writing. Having lots of experience in both amateur and professional theatre, my strength lies in using dialogue to advance the story—not depending on narration.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Regina: The situation is always first for me.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Regina: I have family obligations, but not as many as when I first started writing. I am a retired school teacher, having spent 40 years in the public school system. I prefer to write in the evening. I work out my story issues with a good round of weeding my flower gardens.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Regina: Last year, I had several health issues, the most pressing, at the moment, is being diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. I am 72 years of age and suddenly I had to start pricking my fingers 3-4 times a day, which really is painful when one spends the majority of her day on the computer. I have solved that problem by claiming a Free Style Libre device that can take a blood glucose reading as many times a day as I choose, and, unless something is significant, no finger sticks are necessary. The only drawback is the device is not covered by Medicare, so it is a bit expensive for out-of-pocket funds.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Regina: I actually have participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, but it is not something I do regularly. Generally, I am fairly regimented with my writing and do not require reminders nor a “cheering section” to spur me on. I am too much of a type-A personality not to recognize my weaknesses and my strengths. [As proof I am a type-A, notice I listed “weaknesses” first, or, perhaps that is because I am also a Virgo.]
Betty: What are you reading right now?
Regina: As I said previously, I am a READER. I read everything from cereal boxes to bestsellers. I am very fond of cozy mysteries, family sagas, etc.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Regina: I, generally, read historicals. I write Regencies, but I also read Westerns, Edwardian, Victorian, Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc. I really enjoy the history of a book. I recently read a book (title and author shall remain unnamed) about the Pony Express. I found myself more interested in the history of the routes taken and the numerous rest stops than I was with the story. History geek all the way!
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Regina: I am a Jane Austen fan, reread Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion every year, and her others regularly. I also have books from when I was still teaching that I reread. There is a young adult series from Ellen Emerson White on the Vietnam War that I keep on my shelf. My students, especially the males, loved the series, and I saw more than one kid become hooked on reading through them. White used the name Zack Emerson for The Echo Company series. They recently came out in eBooks after being so long out of print. I contacted a number of young men who loved the series and told them of the release so they could finally own a copy of the complete set.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Regina: As I am rarely not writing, I am sometimes reading and writing in the same genre, but I like to mix up my reading to keep my stories fresh.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Regina: I am a retired school teacher, but for several years I was both teacher and writer. Now, I spend several days a week volunteering at our local Department of Social Services, helping with projects for kids in foster care, Medicaid claims, food stamps, the Christmas Bureau, etc.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Regina: The publishing business is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who think they are going to become a best-selling author right away. It happens, but those incidences are few and far between. One must have a thick skin and not permit reviews to bring grief and sadness. You cannot write a book that will please everyone. It is more important that you are happy with how the book turned out.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Regina: You must LOVE what you do. You must WRITE every day, even if you end up throwing the scene in the trash. You must have the type of personality that you would write even if no one ever saw your story. Write for yourself.
Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?
Regina: So far in 2019, I have released two Austen-inspired pieces: In Want of a Wife and Mr. Darcy’s Bet. Book 3 of my Twins’ trilogy, Lady Chandler’s Sister, arrived in March. A novella, originally published last year as a part of an anthology, Letters from Home, came out in June. Courting Lord Whitmire arrived in July. It was part of the Regency Summer Escape Anthology. On November 7, another holiday themed anthology arrives. It is entitled A Regency Christmas Proposal. My novella, Last Woman Standing, is one of six stories included.
On October 31, Black Opal Books released The Heartless Earl. This is a Regency romantic suspense and part of the Commons Elements Romance Project. More than 70 authors will release books in a variety of genres, each with the same 5 common elements included in the plot.
2020 will see my re-releasing several of my original titles. I recently got back my rights to the books from Ulysses Press, so those will be inserting into my release schedule for next year.
Currently, I am writing I Shot the Sheriff, which will have its release in Winter 2020. This book is part of the Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Series. Each of the authors involved in the project will write a Regency based on a story from classic literature. My story comes from the tales of Robin Hood. The point (no matter whether the original tale was set in a different era) is to give the hero’s nemesis a happy ending. Therefore, in my tale, the Sheriff of Nottingham will receive a different type of “just deserts.”
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Regina: I have been asked of late by a large publisher to write a few contemporaries, and there is the possibility of my writing a historical biography of a real-life WWII hero and the romance that lasted more than a half century. Nothing is set in stone at this time, but I am looking forward to doing both. I have also being toying with the idea of a family saga for the past two years. It is time I took on the challenge.
What a varied and prolific career, Regina! Thanks so much for stopping by to share your experience and give other authors some solid advice.
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Regina today. Do you have any questions you’d like to ask her? Or comments on any of her stories you’ve read?
One last reminder, my recent release Charmed Against All Odds is one of the stories at the Common Elements Romance Project website. You can find out more about the many subgenres of romance and the many authors and titles you have to choose from there, too.
Until next time, happy reading, everyone!
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Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.