Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Dorothy Love is Fdigsby! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (amy@litfusegroup.com)

This week new-comer Regina Jennings is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of her book, Sixty Acres and a Bride,  leave a comment on this post!

Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?

I married my high-school sweetheart while in college and he’s taken good care of me ever since. My full-time job is homeschooling our four children, ages 16 to 6.

Usually I have my laptop open during the school day and tap out a few rough paragraphs while supervising the kids’ work, but polished writing rarely results. After lessons are finished we load up for basketball or band practice where I hide in a corner and try to scratch out a few more lines before we head home for dinner. Most of my usable work comes from my evening writing sessions when Mr. Jennings takes charge of the troops.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

Historical romance is my favorite genre…always has been. I’m a bit of a history nut and I can read romance into the driest of texts. Luckily, as a fiction writer I’m free to embellish.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?

To me being a writer was like being an astronaut. Sure, lots of people dreamed about becoming one, but no one I knew had ever tried. Thinking that publishing was impossible to break into, I only wrote when someone requested my help—church newsletters, youth skits, promotional materials for mission organizations, etc. It wasn’t until I received strong encouragement from my church that I felt compelled to try a novel.

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published? 

Do you believe in miracles? I do! I started my first novel (Sixty Acres and a Bride) as a New Year’s Resolution and had a contract by the end of the year. I’m thankful for how God used my church family to give me the courage to attempt the impossible. He has been so gracious.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing? 

I write whenever I can, wherever I can. Toting my laptop, I follow the kids to their practices and classes. When we get back home I often head to my bedroom to hide and write. No matter how many times I’ve told the kids to call it my office, they still answer the phone and tell the caller that Mom is in bed.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?

Critique groups drastically accelerated my learning curve. I thought I understood POV and passive voice, but I didn’t really comprehend the rules until I was shown what I was doing wrong. I learned a lot from the American Christian Fiction Writers’ online critique loops.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)

I had no idea what to expect. I’m surprised at how much writing is required besides the actual manuscript. Interviews, articles, proposals, blog posts—being a writer includes more than one story a year.

What are your biggest distractions? 

I won’t win Mother of the Year calling my children distractions, so I’ll say this, “My children are my first priority and if they occasionally prevent me from writing because of their delightful need for attention, then it is time well-spent.” Is that gentle enough?

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

It was the same moment. The day that Sixty Acres was up before the pub board I resolved to fast and pray until I heard their decision. My husband was out of town for a three-week stint, leaving me to deal with the children on a nervous, empty stomach. The day deteriorated until I wasn’t contributing to anyone’s holiness. I’m ashamed to admit it, but when I finally got the email my mouth was full of pizza. Triumph and defeat in the exact same instant.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

I love being a writer. Researching, reading, writing, editing, brainstorming—those are all activities that I really enjoy. The problem is that they are time consuming and all those bothersome tasks that are required to make a household run (jobs I never relished anyway) still have to be done. So what I like least about being a writer is that there is no author’s-helper-fairy that appears to magically do all my chores.

What advice would you give to new writers? 

I would encourage them to join a critique group. Even if you live out in the boonies you can participate in online critique loops for encouragement and to hone your craft.

Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.

Sixty Acres and a Bride is set in Texas in 1878 and it’s about a desperate, Mexican widow who traps a wealthy rancher into marriage—trouble is, she didn’t mean to.

What’s on the book horizon for you?

Although Sixty Acres and a Bride is a stand-alone novel, we’ll return to Caldwell County in a second book to watch as Molly Lovelace struggles against her parents’ expectations and her own misguided sense of adventure to find lasting love.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

Readers can find me at my website www.reginajennings.com or at my author page http://www.facebook.com/ReginaLJennings. Sixty Acres and a Bride is available at book stores everywhere and online.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleeders)

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