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.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Characterization Checklist for Fiction

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

First of all, I use a Character Sketch form at the beginning before I even start writing the story. I need to know my main characters so I fill out a detailed form on the hero and heroine. For sub-characters and one-scene characters, I fill out a much shorter form or list the pertinent info on them in a paragraph in my notes. This helps me not to forget specific details as I plow through the story and six months later go back to the beginning to edit. It's also helpful if you have to stop working on one manuscript to work on another to meet a deadline. 

The checklist below is meant as a guideline through your editing process to make sure your characters are consistent with their behavior, growth development, speech patterns, and to make sure you don't alter their physical traits where and when you aren't supposed to.

Name of Character _______________________


  • Are his/her physical traits consistent throughout the chapter? Review hair color, eye color, unique facial marks, age, height, clothing. If necessary, use the search feature to help you find the right paragraphs.

  • Is his/her behavior appropriate to his/her personality, occupation and background?

  • In this chapter did you reveal any specific talents, flaws, personal goals, religion, hobbies or habits that would make this character deeper and more personal to the reader? Remember, if this character has any habits, it must be shown consistently whether in each scene or chapter, depending on the habit.
  • Are your character's internal thoughts appropriate to his/her personality and/or the situation? Do these thoughts show internal growth or change in how he/she sees the situation or the other main character or villain?

  • Does this character reveal emotion appropriate to his/her personality and situation?

  • Does this character experience senses in this chapter such as seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling?

  • Is the character's dialogue appropriate for his/her age, country of origin, education, gender, and personality? To the situation? To the reaction of another character's behavior?

  • Friday, January 23, 2009

    South Carolina Slavery Laws

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    It's nearly impossible to write about the old south without including slavery somewhere in the story. It was part of their culture, a fact of life. The problem is, when you actually research it, the process of what you learn can be painful. 

    I hadn't planned to write my current story, Beloved Liberty, but I stumbled upon a court document while researching my own family history and it got me to wondering. My ancestor, Elijah Hudson, was the first person recorded in Darlington County, SC to emancipate his slave, Ben, in 1810. 

    Why would he have to go to court to prove the competency of his slave before he could be released as a free colored in society? Why wouldn't an owner be allowed to release his slave if he wanted to? And why would my ancestor only release one? What was special about this one slave that made him want to give him his freedom and not release the others? There was a story here.

    I may never know the real story of why, my ancestor did what he did, but I created a story centered around what he did. I gave him a strong motivation, created characters that love and support him, and other characters who are angry and resent his decision and try to stop him. 

    This is the story of Beloved Liberty. It's a story about freedom--not just freedom from slavery, but my heroine experiences a freedom in Christ--free of societal expectations, while my hero experiences a freedom in Christ to forgive others and he learns that it isn't his place to make everything "right". 

    In my research for this book I discovered why my ancestor had to take his case to court in order to free his slave. Some slaveholders would free troublesome, old, or sickly blacks who became community burdens. As a result, the legislature required the approval of a commission for any future emancipations, and by 1820, slaves could only be freed by an act of the legislature.

    For further reading, and a list of these laws and when they were passed, see the website below.

    South Carolina Slave Laws Summary and Record

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Scene Setting Checklist for Fiction

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    Regardless of what kind of novel you're writing there are several things a scene must accomplish and it should include specific elements. This checklist is designed to help you determine if a scene should be deleted, rewritten, or altered with deep edits. It helps you to step back and take a broad approach to viewing your scene more like an editor would. 

    The Basics

  • Does the scene begin with a hook?

  • Is immediate point of view (POV) established?

  • Is the setting and location clear?

  • Does the description paint a vivid picture of what the POV character is seeing, hearing, touching, smelling?

  • Are the descriptions layered in the action of the scene rather than blocks of paragraphs?

  • Is dialogue present with action beats and clear indication of who is talking if multiple people are in the scene?

  • Does the scene end on a new hook?

  • Scene Accomplishments

  • Does your POV character have an objective?

  • Does your POV character experience an obstacle to achieving the objective?

  • Does the outcome at the end of the scene raise the stakes of the objective?

  • If the outcome accomplishes the objective, does the scene introduce a new objective before it ends?

  • Character Actions and Reactions

  • For every action that occurs, does the POV character first have an emotional reaction?

  • After the emotional reaction, does the POV character take action or make a decision?

  • Friday, January 16, 2009

    Am I Any Relation to James Hudson Taylor?

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    I receive a number of hits to my website and blog from people looking for the famous 19th century Christian missionary to China. Some of the questions I get are: Are you related to Hudson Taylor? Are you a descendant?

    To my knowledge, I am not related to James Hudson Taylor.

    But I am honored to share his name and his Christian faith.

    My maiden name is Hudson and I married a Taylor.

    It wasn’t until I established my author website under Jennifer Hudson Taylor that I began to receive these questions. I didn’t even know about the great missionary work of James Hudson Taylor. Naturally I was curious, so I set out to do some research on James Hudson Taylor and discovered many delightful details about how his life has impacted so many lives for Christ. I thank those of you who have asked me about him and wetted my curiosity.

    My Hudson ancestors came from England through Richard Hudson I who boarded the ship Safety in 1630 and landed in Accomack County, VA. We have lots of historical documentation proving this family line and recent DNA tests, but only circumstantial evidence beyond Richard to his parents and grandparents. We do know that Richard was related to Henry Hudson, the explorer’s family. According to some of this information, I descend from Henry’s brother, William Hudson.

    Hudson Taylor’s Missionary Work
    James Hudson Taylor was born in Yorkshire, England on May 21, 1832 to James Taylor and his wife, Amelia Hudson Taylor. His father was a chemist and a lay preacher. Due to all the biographies I’ve read, his parents dedicated him to God, and his mother and sister, Amelia avidly prayed for him to convert to their Christian faith when he had gone astray as a young man.

    Their prayers were answered after Hudson read a tract and dedicated himself to a life of service to Christ. Later, he felt called to China. He was very sensitive to the Chinese culture, adopting their style of dress, something that was rare among most evangelists and missionaries of his time. Many believe it was because of this, that he was so successful in reaching the Chinese people for Christ. He established the China Inland Mission (CIM) and worked in China for 51 years. CIM spearheaded a campaign against the Opium trade, brought over 800 missionaries to China, began 125 schools, established over 300 work stations, and resulted in over 18,000 conversions.

    Hudson Taylor first married Maria Jane Dyer in 1858, the orphaned daughter of Reverand Samuel Dyer of the London Missionary Society. After her death, he married Jennie Elizabeth Faulding. He had children by both wives, several of whom died in infancy and childhood. Jennie died of cancer in 1904, and Hudson Taylor once again returned to China. He died at home in Changsha and was buried by his first wife Maria. The small cemetery was destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, but his marker stone was salvaged and restored. His great-grandson, James Hudson Taylor III, helped a local Chinese church reset it in their church.

    For further reading about James Hudson Taylor, visit:

    For genealogical information on family ancestry and descendants of James Hudson Taylor, visit:

    For more information on my family history and to see if you might be related to me, visit:
    Our Carolina Roots

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Plot Checklist for Authors

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    By the time you finish your first draft, you should know your characters and your story well enough to be able to answer the following questions. If you can't answer these basic checklist questions, you might want to revise your plot structure and make a few changes.

    If you haven't written your story yet, but want to structure it in your mind ahead of time, you might want to create a character sketch and then answer the questions below to plot your first draft.

    1. Is your novel character-driven or plot-driven?

    • Plot-driven:
    Most of your novel concentrates and centers around external action events. The story is heavy on fast pacing and exploding action. Your characters are always on the go, either to escape or chase, and they make decisions based on the events happening around them.

    • Character-driven:
    Most of your novel concentrates and centers around the internal and emotional growth of your characters. Your novel is about people and what they want, feel, hate, love and how they change. They base their decisions on feelings and internal goals.

    2. Regardless of whether your story is plot-driven or character-driven, your main characters will experience some type of change or growth. What is the overall change or growth that your hero and heroine experience?

    3. What is the inciting event or exposition at the beginning that hooks or draws readers into the story? This will help you pick up on too much internal backstory about your characters' past. If you have this is the first thirty pages, dump it and insert it some other place in the story.

    4. My central Action Plot is:
    • The stakes are:
    • My subplots are (include the first turning point, the mid-point and third turning point):

    5. My central Emotional Plot is:
    • The stakes are:
    • This change happens because:
    6. Crisis or Black Moment (when all is at stake):

    7. Climax or Resolution (when everything comes together):

    If you have some areas that seem sketchy or you're not quite certain they exist in your story, don't panic. That is the purpose of this Plot Checklist. Carefully meditate and think through every step in your story, each major event, each major turning point and when it all comes together. If you have some loop holes, this is the time when you want to re-plot those areas and rewrite that section.

    Think about what could happen or what decisions your characters could make that would up the stakes in their situation. The worst thing you could do, is have them resolve everything before you intend to end the story. What other obstacles could you throw in that would keep them from achieving their goals? These subplots will keep your readers turning the pages, wondering how your characters will get out of this, overcome that, will react to another character's behavior, etc.

    Happy Plotting!

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Devotion ~ God's Favor is for Life

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    “His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life.” Psalm 30:5

    The other day this verse stood out to me during my Bible reading time and I had to highlight it as I spent the next few days meditating on it. Now I want to share this good news with you.

    So many people have this idea of God being some ruling creator who dictates a bunch of stringent rules to make us walk the chalk line or face judgment and the consequences of His anger if we falter. Too many people resist Him thinking they are unworthy and will never be able to please Him or understand Him, much less master his “rules” of life. And so they keep resisting out of ignorance and fear.

    That isn’t who God is.

    He is a loving Father who has to correct us for our own good, and who has mercy on us out of His abundant love for us. He gave us free will to do as we please, and He has mercy and forgiveness for us. He doesn’t want you to sin because it isn’t good for you and others around you, not because He wants to take pleasure from you.

    God’s rules are governing laws so we can all get along and not overstep our boundaries and hurt each other. They keep us out of trouble—mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc.

    Even if you mess up and do something wrong, God may be angry, but it is only for a moment. Don’t we get angry at loved ones when they do wrong—especially at our children when we’ve taught them better? It is the same way with God. He is our Father. But the anger doesn’t last forever. God isn’t a grudge holder. He’s a forgiver and He expects us to forgive others. It isn’t a sin to be angry either. It’s natural. We are made in God’s likeness and He gets angry, and therefore, so do we. Although, we must learn not to sin in anger, and this may be hard for those who have anger issues.

    But His favor is for life! This is good news to me and I hope it is good news to you.

    When I looked the word “favor” up in the dictionary, there were twenty definitions that sounded very similar, but the first one stood out to me: something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act.

    His children never receive just punishment. We are adopted into His family through Jesus Christ by faith and become children of God. Granted, we may suffer the consequences of some sins, but God has granted us favor and sometimes it isn’t as bad as it could have been. He is just like a father. He gets angry. He corrects. He forgives. He forgets. And life goes on. His favor is for life!

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Guestpost: "Why I Fell in Love with Charleston" by Author M.L. Tyndall

    Please welcome guest blogger, M.L. Tyndall, author of historical Inspirational romance novels that are thrilling and usually set on the high seas. Find out about MaryLu's latest release, The Red Siren, and win a copy by leaving a comment telling us why you like Charleston, SC, and if you've never been there, why you'd like to go and what you would do and see. Your name will go into a drawing for The Red Siren.

    Why I Fell in Love with Charleston!

    By M.L. Tyndall

    Before I even set foot in South Carolina, there was something about Charleston that drew my affections. A mystique, an allure of romance and adventure that caught my heart long before I tread upon the city’s cobblestone streets. So when my publisher agreed to publish my proposed trilogy called Charles Towne Belles, I just had to visit the city for myself (Research purposes, of course) and see if it was everything I hoped it would be. I wasn’t disappointed.

    From the rush of the mighty Cooper River pouring into Charleston Bay, to the unique narrow houses with their open air piazzas stretching the length of the building, to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriages over the cobblestone streets, to the magnificent St. Michael’s church built in 1761, and the colorful gardens blossoming with Bougainvilleas, I was enthralled.

    But the most fascinating thing I discovered about Charleston was that it was once a walled city, complete with moats and drawbridges. How cool is that? Combining the romance of the medieval castle with the untamed colonies. The colonist built the wall to protect their new homes from Indians, the Spanish, and of course Pirates, but in 1719 they soon outgrew the boundaries and the wall was slowly dismantled. If you want to see a small part of the wall that still remains, visit the Watch Tower museum and take a tour of the dungeon.

    But being a pirate lover, the best part of the history for me was learning about the Charleston pirates. Did you know Blackbeard and his crew once blockaded the entire city? He captured several leading citizens and held them hostage on board his ship, not allowing supplies to enter or leave Charles Towne port. Finally after a few weeks of negotiation, Blackbeard released the hostages for only a few medical supplies and left. Lucky for Charleston since he was one of the most brutal of all pirates.

    Another of my favorite pirates is a lady pirate named Anne Bonny. She and another woman pirate, Mary Reed, terrorized the Caribbean in the early 1700’s, but apparently Anne had her beginning in Charleston where she was often seen in taverns right alongside the men.

    But, my favorite Charleston pirate has to be the pirate they called “The Gentleman Pirate”, Stede Bonnet. A wealthy and educated landowner on the island of Barbados, he abandoned his family and all his belongings to become a “gentleman of fortune”. They say he was not the best pirate, but he also wasn’t a cruel pirate either. He loved books and brought a whole library on board his ship. In September, 1718, Bonnet was captured and brought to Charleston where, being considered a gentleman, he was given residence in the Marshal’s house instead of the dungeon while he awaited trail. Apparently, he was quite good with the ladies and somehow managed to get a hold of some women’s clothes which he quickly donned and then made his escape. Bonnet was recaptured shortly thereafter and, though found guilty, received several stays of execution as the result of pleas from city merchants. Bonnet's friends were influential, but not enough to save him. The "gentleman pirate" was hanged at White Point in Charleston on December 18, 1718.

    My latest release, The Red Siren, takes place in Charleston in early summer 1718 and is a story about a lady pirate. Although the story is fictitious, from Charleston’s history, it would not be difficult to imagine such a thing happening. I hope I’ve piqued your interest and you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy the adventure!

    MaryLu, thank you for hosting my blog today. I can't wait to read The Red Siren. I'm currently, reading MaryLu's The Falcon and the Sparrow, a historical Regency that is wonderful! She is a talented writer. If you love historical Christian fiction novels, a great romance, and exciting adventure, then you don't want to miss out on her books!

    Here's a link to order the book from Amazon:


    Visit MaryLu Tyndall at: or her blog at

    Monday, January 05, 2009

    Editing the Elements of a Novel

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor


    You’ve finished your first draft. I suggest you celebrate this milestone before you dive into the next stage on your manuscript. Take a short break. Give thanks to God in helping you plow through the creative process. Pray for God’s guidance to help you make your story the best it can be.

    Now you get to start the Editing the Elements process to polish it to a clean shine before you send it off to an agent or editor. Be prepared. You will need to read through your entire manuscript several times and do what I call Run-Through Edits. It depends on how well you’ve written your first draft as to how many run-through edits you’ll need to do.

    Dissecting the Elements Phase
    You will need to look at each element of your manuscript separately. By elements, I’m referring to such things as dialogue, beats, characterization, emotional impact, point of view (POV), sentence structure, grammar, etc. You can either read the whole manuscript concentrating on only one or two elements at a time. Or go chapter by chapter to concentrate on each element, then read the same chapter again concentrating on one or two other elements.

    I prefer the chapter by chapter method. That way I don’t feel overwhelmed and I can send off the first three chapters and wait on a response while I work on polishing the rest of the manuscript. I say this, because some editors can take so long to respond to proposals. Also, once I finish a chapter, I like to move on to the next and not go back until I have to or for the final edit.

    Even the best multi-taskers can miss things. The chance of missing something is greater if you are trying to catch everything at once. This is why it is best to take your time and dissect your novel by breaking it down into elemental phases during the editing process. This will help you see things that you otherwise might not see when you simply read through the manuscript.

    Some people like to use the highlighter method. To do this you will choose a specific highlighter color for each element and go through your manuscript and highlight whichever element(s) you are currently editing so you don’t miss things you want to work on. If you prefer to edit online, you can do the same thing by highlighting sections in Microsoft Word.

    If you work with critique partners who have critiqued any of your first draft, you might want to go through their comments first and make any necessary changes and then start the Editing Elements process. Your critique partners can give you a broad opinion on any loop holes in the story and if the whole story comes together succinctly—something that the Editing the Elements might not provide because it takes a dissection approach.

    Check Lists
    You can use the check list method for each element as you go through your manuscript and highlight the elements you want to concentrate on. Over the next few weeks I’ll post a checklist for each of the following elements:

  • Plot

  • Setting

  • Characterization

  • Point of View (POV)

  • Dialogue

  • Tags & Beats

  • Emotional Impact

  • Sentence Structure & Grammar

  • Genre Specific Elements

  • Friday, January 02, 2009

    Early Highland Warrior Clothing

    By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

    When I decided to write a Scottish medieval novel, I discovered that my "idea" of what a medieval highlander would wear was completely incorrect. What I had seen in photos and movies like Braveheart and had read in other Scottish novels had given me the wrong impression. Even after I discovered this, my opinion of the movie didn't change. I still love it. But the depiction of the characters in my book would be different.

    I wanted them to be as accurate as possible, but I didn't want to throw people out of my story by using terms such as "leine" when most people would be unfamiliar with the term. So I chose to use the terms "plaid" and "tunic" to refer to my hero's clothing. The other alternative would have been to use the specific terms and include a glossary in the back. I don't know about others, but when I read for education, I don't mind a glossary, but when I read for pleasure, I would find it annoying. I'd love to hear some opinions on this.

    Modern kilts as we know them today date back to around 1725. It’s similar to a skirt with pleats from the waist down to slightly below the knees. However, it is not a skirt.

    The Great kilt or Belted Plaid dates back to 1594. The great kilt was an untailored garment made of cloth gathered up into pleats by hand and secured by a wide belt. The upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the left shoulder and secured by a brat (clip) or draped down over the belt and gathered up at the front. In cold or wet weather, they might have brought it up over the shoulders or head for protection against weather.

    Before the Great kilt or belted plaid, they wore a long shirt that is known as a "leine" in Gaelic and thought of as a "tunic" in English. A plaid of wool cloth would have been draped over the shoulders and around the arm and fastened by a brat. The tunic came down to the knees on a man and was much longer on a woman. Because of the length on a woman it was similar to what we think of as an English chemise.

    The association of clan family specific tartan colors and plaid designs was a late development in the 17th & 18th centuries. However, much earlier family clans that lived within a region would wear similar plaids and colors because they used the same seamstresses in the area. And of course, families that intermarried typically lived in the same region in medieval Scotland, especially in the highlands. Much of the clan colors and design patterns associated with specific family clans probably derived from this regional practice.

    For more detailed information, visit these sites: - The Early History of the Kilt by Matthew A. C. Newsome - The Leine by Matthew A. C. Newsome - A MacCorkill, History of the Scottish Kilt - This site has some excellent resource material