Lorraine Jeffery has spent most of her life writing, raising children, and managing libraries. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and her MLIS degree in library science. She managed libraries in Texas, Ohio, and Utah. Although she always wrote, it was only later in life that she began to send her work to publishers. She has published over fifty poems in various journals and short stories in Kindred, War Cry, and The Standard. She has also published essays in Focus on the Family, Mature Years, and Utah Senior Review and other publications. She has ten children (eight adopted) and currently lives with her husband in Orem, Utah.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Death is Always a Resident. When did you start writing and what got you into cozy mysteries?
I developed the love of writing when I first formed crooked letters on lined paper. My elementary school stories were not wonderful! While I was working and raising my family, I continued to write, but did not focus on publishing my work. Often my short stories or poems were tucked into file cabinets and drawers while I returned to my busy life.
I have always been a prolific reader. I read all kinds of books and enjoy them all. However, during the last years, I have found myself gravitating toward mysteries. I particularly like cozy mysteries because they focus more on the characters and their relationships rather than the grisly details of the crime. I find the varied landscapes of relationships fascinating.
What is your book about?
Jan Myers finally has her dream job as director of a health care facility for the elderly, when an unexpected autopsy finds no heart medication in a patient with a history of heart disease. The police become involved and a law suit is filed. This story is about a widowed, single mother, who finds her own strength and independence while saving both her career and a health care facility.
What was your inspiration for it?
My maternal grandmother was interested in health care, but she raised her family during the Great Depression and had little time to pursue her dream. When she was in her fifties, she went to school, earned her LPN, and then mortgaged the family home and bought a small health care facility for the elderly. She loved her work, and I grew up working in the facility and hearing about the challenges and joys of running it. So I set my novel in a health care facility.
I have a widowed daughter, and I have watched her become strong and independent as she has shouldered the responsibility of providing for her children. I included widowhood as one of the many challenges Jan faces. I also included aspects of other people’s lives that I found interesting.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
My main challenge was working on the self-discipline it took to take the time to sit down and write, when there were many other things that demanded my attention. I had to deal with “mother guilt,” a cluttered house and I learned to say, “No,” to some requests from others as I made the choice to take time to write.
Did your book require a lot of research?
My book did not take a lot of research because I knew quite a bit about health care facilities. My grandmother, and later my uncles, managed several facilities in Oregon. However, I wanted to be sure of the legal aspects of running such a facility in Ohio (where this story is set), and I wanted to be up-to-date in my medical knowledge of drugs used for various illnesses. I also needed to incorporate current medical procedures into my book. So I visited several health care facilities in Chillicothe, Ohio. I toured the buildings, and asked many, many questions. The directors, without exception, were very patient and helpful.
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?
Yes, I have a writing schedule, and I think I am quite disciplined. However, I have found counting writing hours works better for me than setting publishing goals (i.e. to publish a book by the end of the year). Often, an author is not in charge of if or when his work will be published, and setting such a goal can be quite frustrating.
I lead a busy life with a lot of commitments in other areas of my life, so even writing a set number of hours a day doesn’t work for me. Each day is different. What does work, is so many hours per month or week. I might write six hours one day and only two the next but I average about twenty hours a week writing and marketing what I write. I have to make those hours a priority or other demands will overshadow them.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
My website is http://www.lorrainejeffery.com and I blog on that site. I also have a Facebook author page.
Where is your book available?
Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, http://booksandthings.com
What has writing taught you?
Writing has taught me that a positive attitude, persistence, and a willingness to learn are the most important attributes of a good writer. I have known some wonderfully gifted writers who don’t have the discipline to sit themselves down in a chair and get the project done, and I have known some published writers who struggle with writing, but continue to grow and improve. Sometimes it doesn’t have so much to do with “the muse” as it has to do with “the will.”
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
I would like to tell your readers that it is never too late to do something you want to do. Maybe you have to modify your goals, but don’t give up your hopes and dreams just because you are no longer twenty years old. Sometimes older people, who are still in good health and could lead an active and productive life, simply quit taking risks or trying something new.
I am almost 72 years old and I am publishing my first book. Go figure! Maybe I will not live long enough to publish the 30 I had hoped to write, but then again maybe I will. I plan on doing new things and taking risks, until I die, whether that is five years from now or thirty years from now. There is nothing better than getting up each day, looking at the window at the beauties of nature, and doing what you love to do.
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