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Interview with Regina Jennings

Regina, congratulations on your debut novel, Sixty Acres and a Bride. I loved reading your publication story on your blog! It reads almost like a Cinderella story, but it's obvious you had the right ingredient-a great story that's well written! It is so refreshing to hear it can happen like this.

You've written various things in your life, but when did the idea of writing a book take hold? Did it scare you to think in those terms?

“Taking hold” is the best description I’ve heard. The idea of being a writer had floated around for most of my life, but it finally grabbed ahold of me two years ago. What scared me the most about writing was the amount of time I’d be wasting if my book really stunk. Truthfully, I didn’t think as far as publication. I didn’t know any published authors, so being a bona fide writer seemed impossible. Instead, this book was a test to see if I was on the right path or if I should find another way to serve God.

The uptake of your plot for Sixty Acres is not exact scripture, yet has an inspirational concept. How did the story evolve for you?
This book started as a script. I was asked to write a Christmas drama with the theme of “Redeemer”. The Ruth and Boaz story seemed like a good starting point and since we live in Oklahoma, placing the story in the American West was easy—after all, we already had the cowboy boots and accents.

Because of time limitations, there was a lot of story that wouldn’t make it to the stage. Another limitation was that Ruth and Boaz were being played by a married father of three and the youth minister’s fiancée. No romance allowed. For the Christmas production I agreed, but in a book there wouldn’t be actors, only the desperate widow and the troubled rancher. I could let the sparks fly.

Once the book was started and Ruth and Boaz became real to me as Rosa and Weston, it still took a few drafts before I determine how closely we wanted to stay to the Biblical story. In the end I think of Sixty Acres as a story about two people who find themselves in a situation similar to Ruth and Boaz’s. The decisions they make from there are unpredictable.

Who is your favorite character in the story and why?
That’s tough, but I think I’m most sympathetic to Weston. He’s such a good man and wants to do what is right, but his emotions leave him utterly confused. He has a hard time reconciling the limitations he’s placed on his personal life with his feelings for Rosa. She’s bothersome, that woman.

Tell us a little more about Sixty Acres and is there anything specific that makes your story telling unique?
The back-cover blurb sets up the plot to Sixty Acres well enough, but what they don’t tell you is that Prairie Lea, Texas, is populated by some interesting folk. Although Sixty Acres has some danger and lots of drama, I try not to let my characters take themselves too seriously.

In my view, there’s no hero so wonderful that he’s not a wee bit ridiculous at times, no heroine so good that she isn’t tempted by occasional pettiness. The same holds true for the villain. He might shed a tear at the revival, but pick a pocket on the way home. We all have our defining moments, but it’s the quirks that keep us from being one-dimensional.

I encourage everyone to read your lively and funny blog, Regina, on which you enlighten every one of some of your unusual occupations. Tell us about the weight master one, please.
My dad is a livestock order buyer, which means he buys hogs from farmers and sells them to packing houses (butchers). Hogs, like most livestock, are bought and sold by their weight, so for several years when the kids were small I worked part-time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards weighing pigs. (Not to brag, but I’ve never met another author who can say that they are also a certified Weighmaster.) The scale is just like your doctor’s scales but it goes up to 20,000 lbs. It also rounds to the nearest 5 lbs., so I never get on it.

During the busy seasons like the youth stock shows, I’m back at the stockyards behind the scales, weighing pigs and writing checks to the farmers. I always thought I was helping the family business, but now I realize that I was doing research on my ranching and farming characters.

You said you're a home school mom. To all four of your children? How do you manage that task as well as write? Do you have a 'schedule secret'?
Yes, I homeschool four children between the ages of 16 and 6. My time management secret is that I turn a blind-eye to dirt and we don’t shop for anything besides groceries and books. Outgrowing their clothes is not permitted. I know that’s only a temporary solution, but when you think about it, most writers do have a day job and then a family to take care of in the evening. My evenings are free because I’ve already done a lot of Mommy-time during the day.

I'm happy for your success with your agent and publisher. Care to tell us who they are? What suggestions would you offer writers still hoping to acquire those? Does it still feel different or strange to be agented and published?
My agent is the incomparable Rachel Kent of Books and Such Literary Agency. Although Sixty Acres had already made it through a couple of committees, Rachel was able to jump in and catch me up on how the process worked. I’m so thankful that she’s there to protect my editors from some of my cockamamie ideas.

My publisher is Bethany House. Many of my favorite books over the years came from Bethany House, so when I went to my first ACFW Conference, they were my first choice for the editor appointment. The only way to explain what happened after that is miraculous.

I do credit ACFW, not only for giving me the opportunity to meet my editor, but also for preparing me for that stage. Had I not participated in our local ACFW chapter and in online critiques my manuscript would not have been ready. The fellowship with other Christian authors, both online and in person, has been one of the greatest blessings of this journey.

What do you have in the works?
Although Sixty Acres and a Bride is a stand-alone novel, we’ll return to Caldwell County in the second book. Molly Lovelace will get her chance to shine as she struggles against her parents’ expectations and her own misguided sense of adventure to find lasting love.

Where can readers find you and your book?
I’d love for them to drop in for a visit at or find me on Facebook and Twitter. Sixty Acres and a Bride can be purchased at your local bookstore (if they don’t have it chain yourself to the coffee bar until they order it) or you can find it with online booksellers.

Thanks very much for taking time to share with us, Regina, and much success to you.
Thank you, Jude! It was my pleasure.

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