I’m so excited to welcome Regina Jennings to the blog today! Mary Connealy yesterday and Regina Jennings today? Yes please!!
Picture this with me, if you will. I’m walking through a hotel lobby in Nashville. With Julie Lessman and Bonnie Roof. I know, right? That’s already squeal-worthy. But then Julie says, “Do you want to eat lunch with us, Carrie?” I hesitate… I mean, OF COURSE I want to eat lunch with Julie Lessman (that’s pretty much a no-brainer) but I didn’t want to impose. Sensing my hesitation Julie continues, “It’ll just be me and Bonnie and Laura (Frantz) and Ruthy (Logan Herne) and Regina Jennings.” I said “YES” immediately. Who cares at that point if I’m imposing?!?! LOL
So that’s how I found myself sitting across from the delightful Regina Jennings in a Mexican restaurant in Nashville. That lunch is seriously one of the highlights of my “lobby lingering” during the ACFW conference! (But the pic I took of us is really really not a good pic of me so it stays between me and my iPhone.)
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 ornery husband and four dangerously charming children.
When she has spare time she loves to talk books, history and quirky characters (real and fictional). Check out her Blog – and jump on in to any such discussion. Email her, find her on Facebook or leave a comment on her website. And please make sure you read Regina’s “About” page on her website for even more insight into what a super-cool person she is!
Her newest (as in, hot-off-the-presses yesterday!) book, For the Record, is a book I’ve been waiting for since I read A Most Inconvenient Marriage.
Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle’s newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don’t seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions. She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.
Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.
Hi Regina!! I’m so excited to have you on the blog! Meeting you in August was such a treat and now I get to chat with you here too! Yay! 🙂
Regina: Thanks! I loved getting to meet you, too! I’m so glad I invited myself to Laura Frantz’s luncheon!
Regina: Apples. The texture of oranges is gross.
Carrie: Oh I completely agree.
Regina: Summer. Any time the temperature drops below sixty degrees, my nose gets red and drippy.
Carrie: LOL Yes, that wouldn’t be pleasant.
Regina: Both. Especially together. It’s so entertaining.
Carrie: True… unless the dog part of that combination thinks it’s her mission in life to protect the world from anything resembling a cat. <looks at Zuzu>
Regina: Tea! Sweet tea that’s so sweet I can’t taste the tea.
Carrie: Haha! I might actually drink that tea…
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Regina: I have this conversation with my kids about once a week. While it would be noble to request the gift of healing, I have to say having instant teleportation would be a lot more fun, and since this is make-believe, let’s have fun! Can you imagine how cool that would be? I want to see the Eiffel Tower this afternoon…boom! I’m there. I need to research Ireland. Blink, and I’m there. (I don’t have plans to write about Ireland, but if research were that easy, I could!) My second choice would be time travel, but without teleportation it’s not nearly as useful.
Carrie: Yes! I need that superpower too!! Wouldn’t that be FUN?!?
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Regina: Umm…I head to the Christian section to see if my books are there. Yes, I’m a nerd and it always tickles me to see them on the shelves. While I’m there I wave at my friends on the shelves and pick-up a few for market comparisons. (Or at least that’s what I tell my husband when I’m reading late into the night.) The next stop is the history section. There’s just not a time in history that isn’t somewhat interesting to me.
Carrie: I go visit my friends in the bookstores too 🙂 Including you! In fact, my husband and I were driving somewhere a couple of months ago and wondering what to do to kill some time we had. I suggested, “We could go to Lifeway and visit some friends…” His response – “Do you know people working there?” My reply – “Ummm.. I meant books.” Haha!
If I asked your characters to describe YOU as an author, what would they say?
Regina: They would say that working for me is humiliating. At first, they have to appear on the page as lumpy characters with no physical features whatsoever. Some of their dialogue is witty, but it’s interspersed with notes like, “write a funny description here that compares the postmaster’s wife to his mule.” Furthermore, they get totally exhausted working for me because I can write half of the book without designating what time of day it is, or what day it is. They don’t know when it’s safe to sleep.
In the end, once I endow them with hair color, unique gestures and clothing, they think of me more fondly. And then the editor comes in and makes me designate days, weeks and months passing and my poor characters find life more orderly. And then we can live together Happily Ever After.
In For the Record, we get to catch up with Betsy Huckabee – the precocious little girl we first met in A Most Inconvenient Marriage, now all grown up. Did you have her story planned from the very first Ozark Mountain Romance book or did she surprise you along the way?
Regina: When planning this series I decided I wanted to stretch it to include the Bald Knobber era (those vigilantes that organize in the story). While researching the Bald Knobbers I found one of those nuggets that sets your world a-spinning. Because of the corruption in law enforcement, the governor of Missouri had to bring in deputies from other areas of the country to clean it up. Wait! Deputies from other areas? Like Texas? And this is the same year that my favorite Deputy…Joel Puckett from Caught in the Middle is finishing up his stint as a side-kick in that book. Once I knew who my hero in the last book would be, I rolled back the clock to place little Betsy at just the right age to grow into a blamed nuisance of a woman and pester the dickens out of poor Joel.
Carrie: YAY!! I so love when characters cross over between series within an author’s books!
Speaking of Joel… Deputy Joel Puckett is Betsy’s secret inspiration for the hero in her romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages. Who was your inspiration for Joel?
Regina: I took every too-good-too-be-true hero that I’ve ever read, combined them into one man, and then corrupted all of his non-essential qualities. Of course, he’s still honorable and brave, but he’s impatient, prickly and he’s the last person to compliment or flatter a woman.
Carrie: An anti-hero (of sorts) within a hero – love it!
What do you most want readers to take away from For the Record?
Regina: I got a kick out of poking fun at our ideas about heroes. Betsy, as a writer, is looking to Joel for inspiration. The problem is that Joel is forever saying the wrong thing, or doing something less than swoon-worthy and she has to fabricate his better moments. But eventually she realizes that those moments when he fails to give the correct, charming response are when she’s most attracted to him. So what’s the take-away? That we don’t get too caught up dreaming about fictional people. The flawed, honest people in our lives are way more interesting than perfect every day.
Carrie: SO true. And an important take-away that’s always worth remembering!
Regina, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Regina: I’d be glad to! The next series lands close to home for me, just about twenty miles down the road at Fort Reno, to be exact. It’s about Louisa Bell who is a dance hall singer. When she finds out that her brother is getting in trouble with his commander in the cavalry, she decides to go down there to Indian Territory and straighten him out.
Major Daniel Adams is said commander who has his hands full with his rowdy troopers, not to mention his two adolescent daughters. If he doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.
So, when Louisa arrives with some reading materials that a nice lady asked her to deliver, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Daniel is skeptical. He requested someone older and less…lively….but he’s out of options. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so importance a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother, or will her mistakes ruin everything?
Watch for Holding the Fort in December 2017!
Carrie: YAY!! Cannot wait!!!
What about you? Would you rather have an instant teleportation superpower or a time travel one?