This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Caleb Coker Plantation

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The Caleb Coker Plantation is located in Society Hill, South Carolina. The photo to the left is of the old homeplace built around 1832. Caleb was born in 1802 and he married Hannah Anne Francis Lide.

This home is the birthplace of James Lide Coker, son of Caleb and Hannah Coker. He was born in 1837 and served in the Confederate Army, commanding an outfit as Captain and rising to the rank of Major. His sister, Anne Coker, was the second wife to my 4th great-grandfather, Jesse Hudson. They had three sons, (Thomas, Jesse, Robert) who all died in the Civil War serving under their first cousin Captain James Lide Coker. There is more about their story, here.

Caleb Coker owned a merchant store to the left, which was started in 1828. It was called Coker & Rogers and from the sign in the photo, it looks like they sold groceries, work clothes, farm & garden equipment, hardware, paint, plumbing and electrical supplies. My 5th great-grandfather's son, Robert A. Hudson, worked here for his uncle before the Civil War.

Caleb served as the Director of the Cheraw & Darlington Railroad, Librarian of the Society Hill Library Society, and was a charter member of the Darlington Agriculture Society. The first original library has been restored and is shown in the photo below to the left.

Major James Lide Coker was the founder of Coker College. It first began in 1894 as Welsh Neck High School. In 1908, the school was converted to Coker College for Women. Until after WWII, it was the only college between Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1969, the school officially became co-educational. Today it is a private, liberal arts college.

I have a copy of a deed dated 1845 between Anne Coker and my 3rd great-grandfather, William Wesley Hudson, son of Jesse Hudson and his first wife Elizabeth Galloway. He sold 710 acres to Anne Coker and there is a note stating that it was hand delivered to C. Coker. We believe this is Caleb Coker, who as her brother must have been handling Anne Coker Hudson's business transactions after the death of her husband, my 4th great-grandfather, Jesse Hudson.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Agent Search - It's All About Faith

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Creating the Proposal1. Write a general query letter that can be adapted as a cover letter. It should include the title of your manuscript, word count, and genre/sub-genre. Then you should include a brief description, follow-up with your credentials, and a closure statement offering to forward a proposal.

2. Write a 3-page synopsis. It should be in present tense and double-spaced. Only highlight the main plot points, and be sure to include how your story ends, even if there is a surprised mystery. The agent and editor will want to know.
3. Make sure the first three chapters are edited, polished, and the best you can make them.

4. Some agents will require further details in a proposal. Some may ask for a market analysis, a competitive comparison, and a sell-sheet. Be sure to include a one-page bio and a photo if possible.

5. For nonfiction a proposal should include your cover letter, chapter outline, TOC, one-page bio, three sample chapters, market analysis, competitive analysis, your credentials for authoring a book on your particular topic, and promotion plan.

Search Strategy
1. You can do an online agent search, but there are a lot of scams out there. You want to know that who you are targeting is a legitimate literary agent.

Resources I recommend is the most recent version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide by Sally E. Stuart and The Guide to Literary Agents by
Kathryn S. Brogan, Robert Lee Brewer, and Joanna Masterson.

Cross reference agents with the Preditors & Editors website at Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) at

Look at what each agency/agent offers and compare it to what you write. Highlight the ones that will be most applicable to you. Create an A list and B list. The A list includes the ones you feel confident about. Make sure you send those out first. The B list includes the maybes.

Tips in Finding a Good Agent
1. A legitimate agent will never charge you a reading fee or editing fees before they sell your book.

2. Most agents will offer you a written contract. Some agents will offer a verbal contract, but I have found the written contracts to be better.

3. A good agent will always answer your questions and will not make you feel like you’re bothering them if you do have a question. They encourage open dialogue and communication.

4. As long as you’re not harassing them every week, a good agent will not mind giving you a status update on your projects.

5. Agents should always forward a copy of an editor’s response whether it is a rejection, revision request, or an acceptance letter.

6. Agents should not mind giving you a list of their other client names.

7. Agents who belong to the AAR are usually legit.

8. Agents who have sales credits unless they are new.

9. Agents who attend writer’s conferences.

Tips of What to Avoid in an Agent1. Agents who charge reading fees.

2. Agents who have little to no enthusiasm for your work and always seem to have an excuse about how bad the market is or how little your subgenre is selling. Be observant. You’ll know if the market is bad. You’ll hear about it from other places besides your agent.

3. Your agent doesn’t want to share names of other clients they claim to have, or rejection letters from publishers.

4. If you get bad vibes every time you call or email your agent for a status update, especially if it’s been several months.

5. Your agent seems to go to all the other conferences that doesn’t specialize or concentrate on the subgenre you’re writing in.

6. Your agent seems to know less about the market, trends, and which editors to submit to than you do. There is nothing wrong with your agent asking your preference or telling you to keep them informed if you hear something, but not knowing anything is a huge concern.

7. If your agent seems to be avoiding you, giving you inconsistent information, completely ignores your opinions without justifiable reasons.

8. Your agent wants to rewrite everything you write. There is nothing wrong with suggested edits, but line editing everything to the point that your voice is altered or your theme or meaning changed, that is too much.

9. If your agent seems unprofessional in communication, or doesn’t respond to your emails or phone calls.

10. Tries to refer you to paid editorial services. Some agents receive kick back fees for every referral they make.

Rejection Letters
1. Form letter – This is basically a “Dear Author” letter that contains no personal feedback or indication that your submission was actually read.

2. Written note – This is usually a handwritten note on top of your manuscript or on a piece of stationary. It does indicate a little more effort that they’ve seen it.

3. Edit suggestions or revision request and offer to resubmit – This is usually a professional letter with specific feedback about your manuscript and is addressed to you.

Requests1. Proposal request – They will ask for a synopsis or the first three chapters.

2. Complete – They’d like to see the whole manuscript.

Contracts1. Verbal contract – An offer of representation over the phone. No written agreement exists between you.

2. Letter contract – A letter stating they will represent your work and the terms of service. Usually this is a broad outline and if they sell something you’ll receive a more formal contract.

3. Formal contract – This is an actual contract with clauses, specific to the service the agency will offer, and is very detailed. It requires a signature of agreement by both parties.

Agent/Author Relationship
1. Your agent works for you, not the other way around. You pay them a percentage fee of what they sell, not a penny before a sell. Your agent may give you edit suggestions, but most of the time they prefer you to do the writing and editing and let them do the selling. They will give you advice on which publishers and/or editors will be best to pursue for what you write. It’s a relationship that requires trust.

2. Agents do the contract negotiations for the author to keep the author out of it. That way the author can work with the editor on the content of the story, cover design, and marketing ideas, but the agent handles the business side of things. It keeps it clean for the author/editor relationship.

3. Agents know what clauses to avoid and demand in contract negotiations. The publishing industry is forever revolving. It’s too much for an author to keep up with. Having an agent that you can trust will relieve a lot of stress.An agent/author relationship builds trust, loyalty and requires faith. You will do a lot of praying. I’ve had three types of agents, secular, one who accepted both secular and Christian authors, and a Christian agent that only accepted Christian authors and provided a Christian contract. The Christian agent has been the best agent I’ve ever had. We pray together, uplift one another, and fellowship in our faith. We are friends and that makes the trust come easier.

Trust in God to lead on the right path.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surviving the Pitch to Editors & Agents

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

When are you ready?

1. When writing fiction, you don’t want to pitch until you’ve completed at least one book. 

Nonfiction proposals or articles can be pitched as long as you have a solid concept of your idea.

2. When you know you want to be published.

3. Do your research on the conference and know which editors and agents are going to be there. Visit their websites, try to find out what they like and dislike. What kind of works have they recently purchased? What are they acquiring?

4. You may not want to set up an appointment if there are only two editors and both are acquiring contemporaries and all you’ve written is a historical.

Pitch: Is a one-two sentence description of your story.

A pitch should contain four elements:

1. Two Main Characters

2. Goal

3. Conflict

4. Goal + Conflict = Hook

When meeting with an editor or agent in a one-on-one interview, be prepared to discuss the main plot points in your story, as well as goals and motivations of your characters.

What to bring

1. Business cards

2. Sell-sheets or One-sheets

3. First five pages of manuscript (do not show unless they request it)

What to Expect

At conferences they schedule editors and agents all day long with back-to-back 10-15 minute appointments. You will want to arrive 5-10 minutes early to get in line. If a prayer room is available, you might want to visit it ahead of time.

1. Dress like you’re going into an interview, but be comfortable

2. Be professional

3. Introduce yourself and ask them how they are doing. Treat them like an individual

4. You can take note cards with you, but you shouldn’t read from them. This gives them the impression that you’re not as familiar with your work as you should be.

5. Make eye contact. Talk to them like you’re chatting with them. You don’t want to sound so rehearsed that you remind them of a used car salesman.

6. There will be a monitor who will be keeping time. The monitor will tell everyone in the room that they have 1-2 minutes left. When this happens, wrap up the conversation and move on so you don’t take time away from the next person and put the editor behind schedule.

Possible Scenarios

If you only have one proposal, and they aren’t interested, what should you do?

1. Ask them what other genres they are looking for.

2. If you have time, chat with them and spend a few minutes getting to know them. After a while their eyes begin to glaze over from hearing one rehearsed pitch after another.

3. If an editor gives you ideas on how to improve your plot, please be courteous and listen. Ask if they would be willing to look at a proposal if you make their suggested revisions.

What if you have more than one project and you don’t know which one to pitch in your allotted time?

1. Tell them the categories you’ve written such as (contemporary, a Scottish Medieval, Regency, young adult, children’s book, etc.) Then ask them which one they would prefer to discuss.

2. Or choose the one that you feel is written the best or closer to being finished.

3. The editor or agent will guide you in their interests.

Editors and agents will ask questions. Examples include:

1. Why did you write this story?

2. Do you have any other stories or ideas?

3. Can you expand this into a series?

4. If we publish it, how do you plan to market it?


1. Leave your business card, even if they do not ask to see your proposal.

2. Make note if they ask for a query letter, proposal, or the complete. Send them exactly what they ask for and nothing more and nothing less.

3. If they refuse your sell-sheets, don’t force it on them.

4. Thank them for their time. Be sure to walk away with a smile.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cape Henry Lighthouse

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This summer we had the pleasure of visiting the Cape Henry Lighthouses near Virginia Beach, marking the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. These two lighthouses are on a military base, Fort Story, and the soldiers there really inspect your car inside and out. Everyone has to get out of the car and wait on the side while they check everything and run a mirror under your car.

The original lighthouse is now referred to as Old Cape Henry Lighthouse. It was built in 1791, as the first lighthouse authorized by the U.S. Congress. It remained in operation until 1881 when they built the new one. The old lighthouse is open to visitors for a small fee and is directly across from the new lighthouse. Above is a photo of the original lighthouse. It is made out of simple brick and was never painted.

The photo to the left is the entrance to the old lighthouse. My husband and daughter are standing on the steps leading into the base of it.

The photo below is of the stairwell on the inside. Notice how old the brick looks. There are cracks in the walls everywhere.

The new lighthouse is much taller and is painted in a black and white design. Since it is still in operation by the military base, it is not open to visitors. It makes a beautiful view from the top of the old lighthouse.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Creating Sell Sheets

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

A sell sheet (or one sheet) is a one-page flyer that promotes a book or series of books and the author. It can be single or double sided. These sell sheets are used in editor appointments if an editor seems interested in your story pitch and would like to know more. Often they will ask you to send them your manuscript when you return home. They prefer not to carry manuscripts with them around the conference and on the flight, but a simple one sheet isn't too much and it gives them a point of reference to remind them of your manuscript and who you are weeks later when they receive it in the mail. 

  • Author Name - prominently at the top and in a large point size
  • Tagline - a one-line sentence that describes what genre or theme the author writes
  • Author Bio - short (200-400 words), include writing credentials such as contests finaled in or won, published works of fiction, nonfiction, short stories, articles, and writing memberships to organizations.
  • Website or blog url
  • Contact info of author (if author is agented then the name and contact info of the agent)
  • Title of manuscript or Series
  • Scripture Theme if Christian fiction or inspirational romance
  • Word Count
  • Time period if historical
  • Location if applicable
  • Description of the story (no more than 4-5 sentences)
  • Author photo (as professional as possible)
Design & Layout
Choose a design that either goes with the author's website layout and other promotional material to stay with the author's brand or a theme that compliments the story or series that is being promoted. The Sell Sheet shouldn't be over-shadowed with too many graphics that it detracts from the content. Leave a decent amount of white space or open background for proportional layout. Some authors hire an affordable graphic designer, while others do the design work themselves.

To view an example of a sell sheets:

Friday, August 08, 2008

Jamestown Settlement & 2008 Excavation

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

While I usually write about the Carolinas, sometimes I enjoy writing about other historical places I've visited outside the Carolinas. This summer we spent part of our vacation in Jamestown, Virginia, the site of the first permanent settlement in America. In 2007, they celebrated their 400th anniversary.

While we were there, we got a chance to see archaeologists excavate part of the site. It was unique to see how they uncover history and discover all the secrets of the past. I was able to talk to some of the experts and volunteers working on the site and asked questions. The photo to the left shows two guys digging in different square sections. The first square section is deeper and it is part of the original fort that was built here in 1607. The other square section that is further back in the photo is where they have uncovered a layer of a Civil War fort built here on top of the original colonial fort. The Civil War took place between 1861-1865, more than two hundred years later. The site is located right on the bank of the James River and was a major passage way to the Confederate capital, which was then Richmond, VA.

On the other side of where they're digging they've uncovered several graves of the colonists from the 1600's. Small rocks have been placed on top of the graves and a thin wooden cross marks each grave. In order to uncover these burials, they first had to excavate the Civil War fort that was also built on top of these graves. They had no idea that people were actually buried inside the original fort. One would think that the colonists would have chosen a burial site. Here's the story of why...

Those that survived suffered through what became known as the "Starving Time" of 1609-1610. Severe drought hit and crops withered. The area was a marshland, a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They endured dyssentry and salt poisoning. And they were starving. Reduced to eating rodents, starch, and some sources say, even each other after they passed away, the English colonists were so desperate than some dug their own graves and waited to die. During this time, their relationship with the nearby Indians was very poor. Many didn't leave the fort for fear of being attacked and killed. Those who did venture past the fort, never made it back. So when they began dying, survivors buried the dead right inside the fort. The brick "I" in the photo to the left represents a fireplace.

This last photo to the left is of my daughter and I sitting at the base of a statue of Pocohontas. I have always been fascinated by the story of this Indian princess. When I was about my daughter's age, my parents brought me here, but somehow, I remember the statue being so much larger than it was when I returned years later. I find it interesting how different my perspective was from reality.

If you would like to learn more about the Jamestown Settlement of Virginia, visit

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Author Interview - M.L. Tyndall

I want to introduce you to Marylu Tyndall. She's a wonderful historical author who writes about interesting characters with unique plots and great tension and conflict between her heroes and their heroines. In short, she writes a great turning-page Christian historical romance. The very kind of books I love to read.

For those who leave a comment, I'll enter your name in a drawing and Marylu will send you a signed copy of her latest release. Be sure to leave a working email address in your comment.

Jenn: Describe yourself for our visitors. (ex. hobbies, favorite music, ministries).

ML: I've been married to a wonderful man, George, for 16 years and we have six children, ages 18-28. We live in Northern California, but I much prefer Florida where I grew up! It's too cold up here! I love Alternative Christian Rock, I suppose because I grew up in the 70's with all that incredible rock and roll. Hobbies? I wish I had time for hobbies, but if I did, I would pick up oil painting again. I just love to oil paint and really miss it, but had to put down my brush in favor of my laptop (for writing) I love cats and at the moment we have 4, but we often pick up strays here and there. My ministry is my writing. I truly believe that being a Christian writer is a calling and God uses us to reach hurting people through our stories.

Jenn: How do you find time to connect with God?

ML: Spending time with the Lord is the most important thing any of us can do each day. He is our source of life, strength, wisdom, health...etc. So, I determine to spend time with Him first thing in the morning before my hectic day begins. I know we are all so busy and it's hard to set aside this quiet time, but If you make it a priority and stick with it, you’ll see your faith and your relationship with God grow in ways you never imagined!

Jenn: Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

ML: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Captain Blood by Raphael Sabatini, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers.

Jenn: Tell us about your journey to publication.
ML: Well, it was more of a sprint, than a journey! I've always enjoyed writing and wrote as a hobby for many years, never expecting or trying to get published. When the Lord put on my heart to write a novel about a Christian Pirate, I thought it sounded like a fun idea. That was in 2004. When I finished writing it, God, through a series of steps, led me to various groups and writer's helps, connected me with the right people, got me an agent, and 2 months after that, I had a contract for 3 books! I was shocked to say the least. It happened very fast, and that's why I know it was all God and none of my doing.

Jenn: Tell us about your current book. 

ML: The Falcon and the Sparrow is an adventure, romance spy story set in the tumultuous times of 1803 London when Napoleon was on his rise to power and had just set his sights on conquering the world. My heroine, Dominique, is sent to London as a governess for the son of a British Admiral to obtain important naval documents for the French. Born half-French and half-British, Dominique's loyalties lie with Britain, but Napoleon is holding her only brother captive and threatening to kill him if she does not do as he says. Things only grow more complicated when Dominique falls in love with the Admiral and comes to adore his son, William. Faced with a horrific decision to betray those she loves, Dominique also faces a vicious sister determined to get rid of her, a jealous suitor who is after the Admiral herself, and friends of the Admiral who have set their sights on having Dominique for their own.

Jenn: How did you come up with ideas for this book?
ML: My publisher asked me for an idea for a Regency romance, so I spent quite a bit of time doing research for the time period and place. During the research process, I usually come up with a number of different possibilities for story ideas. After much prayer, I decide on a spiritual theme that I want to portray in my story and then I choose a cast of characters to fit that theme. The plotline simply develops out of that. For this story, I was captivated by the rise of Napoleon and how the British were in denial about his claims to conquer the world. It sounded somewhat similar to what we hear in the news today.

Jenn: List your three most recent books (if applicable).
ML: I also have a trilogy out now called The Legacy of the King's Pirates: The Redemption, The Reliance, and The Restitution. The names of these books are also the names of the ships in the story and the theme of the stories. These are action/adventure/romances set on the wild seas of the 17th century Caribbean.

Jenn: What's next for you?
ML: I'm currently working on another trilogy set in Charleston, South Carolina in 1718, Charles Towne Belles. Each book follows the story of one of three sisters, all daughters of a British Admiral. Each sister's story represents one of the seeds in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 where Jesus describes what happens when the seed of the gospel falls on different types of hearts. The first book, The Red Siren, is about a lady who becomes a pirate by night in order to acquire enough wealth to protect her sisters from unwanted marriages. It will be released in February 2009.
Jenn: Where can visitors find you online?

ML: My website:
My blog:
or on Shoutlife at :

Thanks Jen for having me! God Bless.

We Have Winner!
Congratulations to Ashley VanBuren!
I know you will enjoy this book because I have read MaryLu's work. Some have said they couldn't hardly put this book down once they started reading it. I'm looking forward to reading my copy. Please visit my blog again and if you think you'll forget to swing back by, consider signing up for my monthly newsfeed from my blog, It goes out on the 5th each month as a newsletter called Carolina Voices of Inspiration.