The Scandal of an Original Novel!

The Scandal of Lady EleanorUpdate: Our randomly selected winner of Regina Jeffer’s The Scandal of Lady Eleanor is Caroline Clemmons. Congrats, Caroline!

If you didn’t win, don’t lose heart. My blog guest next week is Grace Burrowes, who’s offering 3 chances to win a copy of her debut title, The Heir.

My blog guest today, Regina Jeffers, has just received a dynamite review from Publishers Weekly for her latest release, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor. Her other work is described by PW as “pastiche” novels, which means she’s taken several of Jane Austen’s most beloved characters and written continuing stories for them. If you’re a dedicated “Janeite” you’ll want to check them out at ReginaJeffers.com. The Scandal of Lady Eleanor is her first original novel and PW calls it a “knockout!”

I love the cover, don’t you?

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and join Regina and me for a little cyber-chat.

Mia: So Regina, tell us something about yourself.

Regina: From Huntington, WV, originally, I am a product of the 60s and 70s in small town America. I have held five roles in my lifetime: daughter, wife, mother, teacher, and author – an ordinary life with extraordinary experiences. For example, among those experiences one finds that I was a student at Marshall University when the real-life tragedy shown in the movie We Are Marshall occurred. My child came eight weeks early in the middle of my theatre class – Acting II became marriage and family life. I have met and associated with several “big Name” stars over the years. I am one of those people who is often in the right place at the right time. I recently served as a guest panelist at the Smithsonian – a surreal encounter. I stumbled into the publishing business after 39 years in the public classrooms of three different states. As the only member of my family with a university education, I hold multiple advanced degrees from Marshall University and the University of Georgia. Despite being crippled with rheumatic fever as a child, I have trained state and national dance team champions. I studied English, speech, journalism, and theatre in school. As I said: ordinary with moments of the unexpected.

Mia: Wow, that’s some backstory. How did you get started writing?

Regina: I admit it. I am a card-carrying member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) – a tried and true “Janeite.” I devour anything and everything dealing with Jane Austen. As such, I often exposed my students to the nuances of the Regency world: a time of dissipated youths, of rakes, and of revolutionaries. Of blackguards and gentlemen. Of a mad king. Of reversionary interests. Of Come Outs and marriages of convenience. It was a time when a nation stood on the brink of greatness, while it fought the Americans on one shore and the French on another. In 2007, as I taught my Advanced Placement English Language and Composition class, one of my students tossed down the gauntlet. “If you know all these things, why not write your own novel?”

Originally, I laughed off his suggestion, but the idea had taken hold. Four months later, I self-published Darcy’s Passions (a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view). I even paid one of my students to create the cover. It was my way of saying to those in that particular class, “I met your challenge. Now you must meet mine.” My friends and family bought the book, but I basically forgot about it. However, the book rose quickly on the Amazon sales list. Ulysses Press contacted me regarding professionally publishing the manuscript. The rest is history.

Mia: Very few authors can say a publisher contacted them first about publishing their work. Kudos on the sales of your self-pubbed work that made that happen.

The Scandal of Lady Eleanor is the first book in the “Realm” series. Tell us about the Realm.

Regina: The Realm is a covert group working for the British government during the Regency Period. They rescue British citizens, bring about diplomatic portals, etc. Its members are titled aristocrats and minor sons – therefore, the name “the Realm.” The members in this series number seven: James Kerrington, Viscount Worthing (and future Earl of Linworth); Brantley Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill; Gabriel Crowden, Marquis of Godown; Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford; Marcus Wellston, the Earl of Berwick; Baron John Swenton, and Carter Lowery, the youngest son of Baron Blakehell. These men have served together for several years in India and Persia, and they possess a stout camaraderie. Each holds reason for fleeing his home and title, and each must reclaim his place in Society, while still occasionally executing a mission in the name of the government. Unfortunately, not only must these men fight their own demons, they must foil the plans of Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of them has stolen a fist-sized emerald; and Mir means to have it back.

Mia: Sounds wonderful. I love the sense of adventure in your premise. Can you give a deeper peek into The Scandal of Lady Eleanor?

Regina: James Kerrington, the future Earl of Linworth and a key member of the Realm, never expected to find love again after the loss of his beloved wife, Elizabeth. But upon his return home, Kerrington’s world shifts on its axis when Eleanor Fowler, literally, stumbles into his arms. However, not all is as it seems with Eleanor, as she hides a deep secret. She had hoped the death of her father, William Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, would offer her family a chance at redemption from their dark past, but when Sir Louis Levering produces proof of Eleanor’s father’s debauchery, she is thrown into a web of immorality and blackmail. It is up to Kerrington and his friends in the Realm to free Eleanor from Levering’s hold.

Mia: Why have you chosen to include very “modern” issues in a Regency-based romance?

Regina: Just because life appears “simpler” does not mean Regency England did not reek of scandal. Women lacked options. Even women of a wealthier class were the property of first their fathers and then their husbands. As such, Lady Eleanor Fowler is no exception. When her mother dies, her father’s debauched lifestyle invades her privacy, and she is sucked into a situation because she “loves” a parent who does not really understand the meaning of the word. Eleanor’s brother Brantley escaped the Duke of Thornhill’s hold on his household, but Eleanor is left behind to cope in the only way she knows how: Survive.

Mia: This novel is a departure from your other work. After five successful Jane Austen related novels, how do you feel about leaving Miss Austen behind?

Regina: Well, first, I am certainly not deserting my Austen sequels and adaptations. I have an Austen short story coming out in the soon-to-be-released The Road to Pemberley, and I am currently writing a Christmas-themed Pride and Prejudice sequel. Yet, I must admit that it was liberating to write a story from beginning to end, without a framework in place. When an author tackles an Austen storyline, he must stay somewhat true to the original characters or “suffer the ire” of Janeites. In my Austen books, I work in her original wording and use what I know of the lady. With this series, I could create the characters and the conflict without my readers having a preconceived idea of how the story should go. Plus, when I returned to my current Austen book, I was happy to see “my old friends” again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder rather than out of sight, out of mind.

Mia: I’m always fascinated by other author’s processes. Do you have writing rituals?

Regina: I am both a “pantser” and a dinosaur. Although I am technology literate, I hate to compose on the computer screen. As I prefer an actual book to my eBook reader, I hand write my stories in a wide-ruled spiral notebook–black ink only. I sit in the same chair (desperately needing reupholstered) with a lap desk balanced on my knees and a cup of hot tea on a nearby table. As a “pantser,” I work from an overview, but I rarely outline each chapter. Before I am at the point of writing a story, the scenes play in my head. Having theatre experience, I play and replay the proposed scene–hitting the rewind button often–until it makes sense. As such, I require few rewrites.

Mia: How do you handle the constant need to self promote in the publishing business?

Regina: We all realize that the onslaught of eBooks is changing the publishing business. We have bankruptcies and fewer opportunities to sell printed books. It is a fact of life. I have been fortunate, and if this process ends tomorrow, I shall not look on it with distaste. However, I do not wish it to end anytime soon, so I do lots of promotions to keep my name in the public’s mind. I write “niche” pieces. If a reader is looking for The Phantom of Pemberley (my romantic suspense release), he will not find it in mystery or in romance. The book is located in the General Fiction section at the bookstore, which puts me at a disadvantage. Therefore, I must have a presence at book festivals, conferences, etc., to introduce my works to new readers. I must be on the Internet and guest blogging on other websites. One of the best things I have done of late is to combine with 23 other Austen-inspired writers on one website. We each had our troubles reaching a larger audience, and we each had our own dedicated readers. Now, the readers of the twenty-two other authors have been introduced to me, and likewise. We take turns blogging and interacting with our visitors. AustenAuthors.com has opened new markets for me.

Mia: How long does it typically take you to write a book?

Regina: When I still taught school, it would be six months on an average. In 2009, I released three titles, but I had no life because I still had a full time job. Now that I am retired from the classroom, I can manage (with editing and rewrites)–assuming my muse pays a call–a new title every 3 to 4 months.

Mia: What is the best (and worst) part of writing for you?

Regina: The best part is when that “ah-hah” moment occurs – when something unexpected falls into place and changes the storyline – when one can pat himself on the back and feel brilliant for a moment. The worst part is hitting a wall and waiting impatiently, sometimes for several long days and nights, for the next moment of inspiration.

Mia: What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Regina: Less is more when it comes to research. I do not mean to insinuate that a writer should not do adequate research for the topic and the time period, but he does not need to include every fact he discovers. It is so easy to allow research to overwhelm the characters and the conflict. One must guard against this tendency. Smothering the true purpose of a novel–which is to entertain, not to inform–can easily destroy a great storyline. Keep these suggestions in mind as one writes: avoid too much jargon; do not place complicate explanations in the mouths of lay characters; and small details are important. For example, I was writing a novella recently with a character who is a bit bungling. I had thought to have her sprayed with a skunk. The scene was delicious, except it suddenly dawned on me that there are no skunks in England – a fact, which could easily destroy the storyline.

Mia: Now for a little fun. If this series were brought to film, whom would you choose to play the roles?

Regina: I have been a Matthew Macfadyen fan long before he played Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film – back to his days in Wuthering Heights, Warriors, and The Way We Live Now. He is always the Darcy in my head when I write my Austen pieces, and he is the man I see and hear in my other works. In this series, Macfadyen is James Kerrington. James Mcavoy is Carter Lowery; James Scott is Aidan Kimbolt; Matthew Goode is Brantley Fowler; Toby Stephens (as he was in Jane Eyre) is Marcus Wellston, and Alex O’Loughlin faces Gabriel Crowden. As weird as it may sound, I do not have famous women in my head when I choose the females. I see their faces and recognize their movements, but they are ordinary women. In this series, Velvet Aldridge came to mind because I fondly remembered a former student named “Velvet.” I stole Brantley Fowler’s name from a young man I met at an Enterprise Rental Car outlet. I told him I would make him famous. Inherently, I suspect, there is something wrong with me.

Mia: LOL. I’ve been known to take character names from tombstones in period graveyards, so I don’t want to contemplate what that might mean about me! Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

Regina: Readers may visit my website www.rjeffers.com for excerpts, signing dates, and the latest information. One may also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and my Amazon Author Page. Besides my own daily blog, I regularly post on www.AustenAuthors.com. My books are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, and Borders.

Mia: Thanks for being my guest today!

___________________________

The Scandal of Lady Eleanor is available for reviews, giveaways, and excerpts. For these or interview queries, contact Karma Bennett at 510-601-8301 x108 or karmabennett@ulyssespress.com.

About the Author

Regina JeffersRegina Jeffers is the author of several Jane Austen adaptations including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation,Vampire Darcy’s Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley and Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion. She considers herself a Janeite and spends her free time with the Jane Austen Society of North America and AustenAuthors.com. A teacher for nearly 40 years in the public school systems of three different states, Regina Jeffers is a Time Warner Star Teacher Award winner, a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, a Columbus Educator Award winner, and a guest panelist for the Smithsonian. She’s served on various national educational committees and is often sought as a media literacy consultant.

Be sure to leave a comment or question for Regina to be entered in the random drawing for a copy of The Scandal of Lady Eleanor!

43 thoughts on “The Scandal of an Original Novel!

  1. Vee says:

    Mia this is a great interview and Regina I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about you! What an amazing life!
    I look forward to reading your wonderful collection of books Regina! You are always veyr entertaining!
    Vee

    1. Vee,
      Thank you for following me over to this site. I love discussing books and films with you.

  2. Candy Morton says:

    Regina,

    Wow, I found it really interesting that you write your stories on paper! With a black pen no less! ;) I enjoy your stories! And Jessica was lucky to have you as a teacher!

    Candy

    1. Candy, One will always find me with a spiral bound notebook and writing away. I have it down to a science. 30 handwritten pages = a ten-paged chapter. I hate long chapters in a book when I am reading, so I try to keep mine around 10 pages. That is another quirky thing about me.

  3. Jessica Ferrell says:

    Ahem, I believe Regina (wow that is definitely weird to type) that I should comment. I have always loved your stories and since I was also in your AP English Class, I have grown to love Austen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for giving men of Regency England a voice when they were merely thought of as cads. I can not wait to continue and read your novels long after I am grown and have a classroom of my own. You will always be my favorite teacher. I love you tons and miss your class.

    1. Jess,
      Some day, you will invite me to speak to your class, and I will tell them about how you used to read the drafts of my stories before anyone else.

  4. Caroline Clemmons says:

    Regina, congratulations on your fabulous success. Best wishes for continued good fortune and megasales.

    1. Caroline,
      Thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement.

  5. Hi Regina (and Mia!),

    Great interview! I’m trying to find the balance between enough setting and too little setting. I thought I had enough, but some recent feedback suggested it wasn’t rich enough. Have you had any experience with this?

    Thanks!
    Tracey

    1. Tracey,
      I experience difficulty with description. I was trained as a journalist – where paragraphs are 35 words in length (and no more). In the beginning, I tried to constantly add description as I wrote, but that slowed down and complicated the process. I would look my train of thought. Now, I write the story, and then go back to add those extra details. However, after all that, I sometimes read my work and think I should have done more. Listen to feedback if it from a publisher or a Beta group, but beware of too much self-analysis. Sometimes, you have to go with your gut. If you change too much, you lose your “voice.”

      1. Mia Marlowe says:

        My rule of thumb is never to discuss the weather unless it bears directly on my character’s state of mind. The setting ought to be enough to ground your characters in a space without burying them in it. Show your readers what they need to know and no more. Readers like to bring their imaginations along for the ride. I count on them to fill in the non-essential details.

  6. Quilt Lady says:

    Great interview and some great advise about not getting to caught up in research. I love the cover of your book and is sound fabulous.

    1. The cover is a Gainsborough portrait entitled “The Hon. Mrs. Thomas Graham.” It is from 1777.

  7. Cynthia Wong says:

    I am sooo excited for you & must commend you for trying a whole new aspect of writing….a totally original story!!! i can’t wait to read this!!!!!

    GoodLuck & CONGRATS!!!!

    Cynthia
    NYC

    1. Cynthia,
      You are so kind to come visit me here. I appreciate your continued support. You must ask Kim to get busy and to pick up your copy of the book.

  8. Regina, All I can say is wow! I think you meet the definition of an accomplished lady. The most remarkable thing I read is that you compose with pen and paper! Yikes! I couldn’t compose a tweet on paper. I can tell that you are having fun. Good for you.
    quailcreekpub@hotmail.com

    1. Mary,
      I once heard Ray Bradbury say that he loved the smell of books. I am the same way about the feel of the paper in my hands. I can compose on the computer screen, but it lacks the silly arrows and squiggly lines I can draw on paper. LOL!

  9. Great review, Regina! Congratulations! I agree with Merry’s comment that it is sometimes tempting to put all we know in historical fiction. My first instruction to somebody starting out in this genre is to learn everything you can about the period and use it judiciously- you are trying for seamless authenticity, not a historical treatise.

    1. You are so correct, Carey. Unless it affects the story line, I hate it when I get 2-3 pages of nothing but historical background. Give me enough facts to pique my curiosity, but not drown it.

      1. Mia Marlowe says:

        I regard my research as the landscape. It’s the background that informs my characters, but doesn’t overpower. That way I can paint them boldly in the foreground with the layers of research behind them, giving them the weight of history.

  10. Beth Caudill says:

    I love spies in my Regency historicals. This sounds very intriguing.

    1. Beth,
      Thank you stopping by. I hope this is a nice mix of spies and stories of survival. At least, that is what I hoped to achieve.

  11. Jeanne Miro says:

    I was so glad to see the link to find out more about Regina. Whenever I read a book I love I always thank the teachers I had for instilling in me the love for reading I have had since grade school.

    Regina, I love that you base some of your characters on people you know!

    The Scandal of Lady Eleanor is definately being added to my TBR list! It sounds like a wonderful first book and hopefully your nextg release is already in the works!

    1. Jeanne,
      I find the most interesting facts when I least expect it. Karen Wasylowski’s husband on our Savannah trip mentioned something he enjoyed doing when he traveled. I modified it to the Regency period, and now Elizabeth Bennet will have a similar “travel quirk” as part of her personality.

  12. Lisa Chaplin says:

    It felt kind of surreal reading this, Regina, as I (though not a Janeite, I didn’t know it existed) have begun a Mansfield Park sequel, and my novel about spies at the start of resumption of the Napoleonic Wars – called The Time of Terror – earned me an agent, and the heroine is in desperate need of redemption (and not to be hanged!) I’m hoping to sell very soon. Your book sounds fascinating. All the very best with it!

    Lisa

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I’m glad Regina’s experience gives you hope, Lisa. It’s always good to know other people have blazed a trail ahead of us.

      1. Lisa, Janeite is a term that Rudyard Kipling coined for those who read Jane Austen. The term has stuck for her followers. Few authors have such an influence on others. I once read/heard that Dickens’s followers do not call themselves “Charleses,” but with Jane Austen, we consider her a friend.

  13. Deb says:

    Wow, what a great interview, Mia and Regina! Thank you for taking the time to do this and post it for us. Congratulations on your success, Regina! I look forward to checking out your newest novel.

    1. Deb, Thank you for your kind words. Mia has been great to supply me this format.

  14. Amelia Grey says:

    Regina,

    I adore reading and writing in the Regency and it sounds like you do, too. I’m adding my heartiest congratulations and here’s hoping you have a very long and successful career.
    Amelia

    1. Amelia,
      I have read your works and am honored that you have taken the time to respond to my interview with Mia.

  15. Susan Kaye says:

    I think humans have always had a knack for making life messy regardless of the period and how we in the present may perceive it! Sounds like a great book, Regina.

    1. Susan,
      Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your support more than know.
      Humans do continue to make the same mistakes. So, we must find ways to “teach” the same lessons, but from new viewpoints.

  16. Merry Simmons says:

    Lovely interview! The advice to not let research take over your novel was very helpful. When I become immersed in a time period, I have this terrible urge to tell the reader every “interesting” fact I’ve discovered. And I suspect these facts are interesting only to me. :-)

    Merry

    1. Merry,
      How delightful to find you here. Thank you for supporting me in my career.
      The idea of “too much” knowledge was a difficult one to embrace. My Goodness! I spent a lifetime in the classroom, so how could I not want to share every little fact with someone else? But one must taper that urge when writing. It was a hard lesson to learn.

  17. Kim Withey says:

    A wonderful interview. The writing process always facinates me. I admire those who can take a plain piece of paper and create an extraordinary work. To have the ability to completely draw someone into another world even for a brief time is amazing. Ms. Jeffers’ works do this for me. For all too brief moments on a plane, in a hotel room, or snuggled on my couch I am taken away from my wandering life. Thanks Regina. XO

    1. Kim,
      How often I have become immersed in a good story line has taught me to look for the unique. I love it when I recognize myself in another’s work.
      Thank you for your continued support of my writing.

  18. Sandy says:

    What a wonderful review, Regina. You ask great interview questions, Mia.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Asking questions is easy. Regina did the hard part!

      1. Sandy, Mia and I enjoyed mixing up the traditional questions with some less likely to be asked.

  19. Mia,
    Thank you for this opportunity to share my love of reading and of the Regency Period.

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