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, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Desk Sweep

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I've been hanging around the publishing industry long enough to recognize cycles at Christmas. Things slow down to a crawl. Granted, the publishing industry is typically SLOW, but the Christmas season virtually brings things to a stop with the exception of a mad desk sweep right before Christmas vacation.

What is the mad desk sweep? It's when editors clean manuscripts off their desks before they leave for Christmas break. I can't blame them for wanting to return from their Christmas vacation to a clean desk or a cleaner desk. I doubt they can completely sweep it clean because I do recognize how swamped they become with submissions. The thing that is disheartening to writers is that the sweep usually involves a multitude of rejections, not acceptions.

I've heard of authors waiting to hear on a manuscript as long as six months to a year, sometimes--more. All of a sudden they get that dreaded rejection in December. So if any of you writers have experienced a few rejections recently, take heart and know that you aren't alone. You are part of the Christmas Desk Sweep and it doesn't mean your manuscript won't find a home at a publishing house some place else at a different time.

My advice is to gird yourself up with some extra prayer. Either take a break and enjoy your family over Christmas vacation and recharge your spirit with God's wonderful Word, or use the extra time off to write the story that God has laid upon your heart. Read Scriptures on faith and hope. Fill your tank with encouragement to keep going.

Readers, write a nice note to some of your favorite authors--just to encourage them over the next few weeks. Even published authors are often a part of the Christmas Desk Sweep.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review - "A Forever Christmas" by Missy Tippens

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

My Review
This is a wonderful Christmas story that will fill your heart with thanksgiving and joy. The characters are so vivid that you can see them. The two little boys in the story are true to life, as is the heroine and hero as the humorous tension between them is quite entertaining. It's perfect for the season if you're looking for something to help you get into the mood for Christmas. I highly recommend A Forever Christmas!

Sarah Radcliffe's quiet Christmas back in her hometown will be lost if she agrees to direct the church's Christmas pageant. But when she meets two little boys determined to gain their father's attention, Sarah agrees to help. Then she discovers that the dad in question is Gregory Jones, the man she loved and lost. The single dad is working himself to the bone to give his boys the Christmas of their dreams, when all they want is some family time. Time that includes a new mommy. If Sarah can learn to open her heart, she may receive the most wonderful present of all--a family of her own.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What is Your Favorite Christmas Recipe?

I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to share their favorite Christmas recipe. If you're like me and you don't cook very often, you can just list your favorite dish. I hope to hear about some delicious meals and some wonderful food traditions in your family. I'll start with my family's Fruit Salad.

The Fruit Salad
My grandmother started the Fruit Salad and I've never known any other family that makes fruit salad like we do. I'm not sure if she got this from her mother or grandmother or where it came from. She's gone now and I can't ask her, but we carry on the tradition. And every year as I make the Fruit Salad, I think of her and miss her.

We get a huge mixing bowl (at least 4-qt size) and cut up five oranges in chunks, 4-5 tangerines in chunks, a can of chopped pineapples can pour in juice if you want, a jar of red cherries (8 oz) and pour in cherry juice, peel and cut up 4-5 apples in chunks, 3-4 bananas in small round slices, 1 lb. pecans or walnuts. You can add other fruits like pears and coconut. This year I plan to leave out the bananas. You can chop up the pecans or leave them whole.

Pour in a qt of 2% or whole milk, a qt of half and half. You can add a little more if you want. Sometimes we'll add extra fruit or milk to make a larger serving. It doesn't have to be exact. Add a cup of sugar and a 1 tb of vanilla extract. Mix and adapt to your personal taste and refrigerate until it's time to serve in bowls. We love our Fruit Salad.

What is your favorite Christmas dish? Please share.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Traditional Christmas Desserts

I wanted to share a couple of traditional colonial recipes you can use for Christmas. Hope you enjoy!

Hasty Pudding

Exact amounts were not given in my booklet so you you might have to experiment. Bring a container of water and some salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Slowly pour in some yellow cornmeal, stirring all the while til the mix becomes thick enough so a spoon will stand up in it. Laddle the pudding into 3-4 small bowls. Drop some butter onto each portion, then sprinkle on ground nutmeg and some molasses. Serve hot.

Buttered Bakes Apples

Peel and core the apples, leaving them whole. Carefully butter a heavily-tinned plate and arrange the apples on it. Fill the holes left by the cores with powdered sugar, and sprinkle the apples with melted butter, then bake twenty minutes. Put a small amount of current jelly in each of the cores.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Author Interview - Myra Johnson

Please welcome Myra Johnson to my blog! She's a fellow Abingdon Author of One Imperfect Christmas as well as a Heartsong Presents Author of Autumn Rains. Myra has offered to give away one free autographed book to one blessed person from our pool of comments. So don't forget to leave a comment if you'd like to be included in the drawing. Please include your email for notification purposes and private exchange of your mailing address should you win.

Myra, thank you for joining us.

Where do you get ideas for stories?

Ideas come to me in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s just a random image that takes root in my imagination. It might be an interesting character, or an intriguing situation, or a setting that attracts my attention. Personal-interest newspaper articles may spark ideas, and I’m often fascinated by the issues people present to advice columnists. Not all ideas turn out to be viable, but I know I’m onto something when the image just won’t let go.

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

One technique I’ve tried with recent books is to free-write my characters’ autobiographies in their own voice. I also like to find pictures that most resemble my characters, using sites like iStock and Getty Images.

Also in the planning stages, I try to determine each main character’s personal goal, motivation, and inner and outer conflict. These aren’t always crystal clear until I’ve written a few thousand words to see where the characters take me, but I need at least a general feel for my characters’ driving passions in order to get the story moving.

Since I’m primarily a “pantser,” I don’t do a lot of scene-by-scene preplanning. I much prefer to let the characters show me where they want to go with the story. I do, however, usually have some idea of what the main turning points could be and how the story will resolve. Then, as I write, I keep detailed spreadsheets to track the timeline, scenes, character names and descriptions, etc. My full set of Excel spreadsheets is available for download at my website.,_Writer/Writing_Helps.html

Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts?

It’s very hard for me to turn off my internal editor. During any given writing session, I keep trying to push forward, but I still find myself pausing to search for just the right word, or reworking a sentence or paragraph until I get it just the way I want it. At the start of the next session, I usually back up several pages, read over what I’ve written, and make a few (or several!) edits. If it’s been several days, I’ll backtrack even farther, as much to get myself back into the story as to revise. Once the full story is drafted, I’ll let it rest for several days before beginning revisions. I don’t have a set number of times I’ll go through the manuscript. It all depends on how comfortable I am with it as I complete each phase. Also, at some point I will bring in my critique partner for her feedback.

Where do you like to do most of your writing? Describe the setting.

A spare bedroom upstairs has been converted to serve as my office, and even though I use a laptop computer, I rarely unplug. Being at my desk surrounded by my writing reference books, dictionaries, word finders, manuscript notes, etc., helps keep me in a working frame of mind. I usually have a bottle of water or cup of tea and a jar of peanuts close at hand for quick sustenance when I need it. My two dogs stay pretty close, too, making it hard to roll my chair back without smashing a tail or a couple of toes!

In your opinion, what is a writer’s greatest struggle?

Speaking from my own experience, I would have to say self-doubt. We can get caught up comparing ourselves to other, seemingly more successful writers and believe we’ll never measure up. We can obsess so much over making a manuscript “perfect” that we never find the courage to actually send it out. Or if we do submit something to an editor or agent, getting rejected could set us back days, weeks, or months. The struggle—and the victory—comes in letting go and taking a chance, because the manuscript that will absolutely never sell is the one you never send out.

Tell us about your latest book.

I have two books out right now: my debut novel from Abingdon Press, One Imperfect Christmas, and my Heartsong Presents contemporary romance, Autumn Rains.

One Imperfect Christmas is about a woman drowning in self-blame after her mother suffers a devastating stroke. She allows the guilt to isolate her from the people she loves most, including her husband and daughter, and only her family’s love, persistence, and faith can help her heal.

Autumn Rains tells the story of a redeemed ex-con and a woman recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Their unexpected romance proves to be the key that unlocks the prison doors for each of them.

Readers can learn more about these and my upcoming books at my website, You can also find me at and

Thanks, Myra. Both your novels sound very interesting. To our readers, be sure to leave Myra a comment to be entered in the drawing.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Truth About Authors' Income - Why I'm Still Working

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

An author who hit the New York Times Bestsellers List made a promise that if she ever made the NYT List she would post her earnings on the book. She's kept her word. I wanted to share with you the realities of a published author. You've probably heard the mantra of "starving artists", but for some reason people tend to think that authors make millions or hundreds of thousands on their novels--especially if it becomes a bestseller. The reality is--not so. Many of us are the "starving writers" who pull a full-time job and write deep into the evenings and late at night because of this creative desire that we were born to do.

Granted, there are some out there whose books have grossed millions, like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, JK Rowling, Rick Warren, Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, whose income from their novels have gone on to include royalties from movie rights. But keep in mind they are "the few" and the rest of us (writers in general, not any specific writer of any genre) look to their success as inspiration and hope of what "is possible" to achieve in publishing.

The reality for the rest of us published authors is best summed up in the linked posts below. Although I don't personally read the genre that Lynn Viehl writes, as a fellow author, I very much appreciate her candid report.

The Reality of a Times Bestseller  by Author Lynn Viehl (April 2009)

More on the Reality of a Times Bestseller  by Author Lynn Viehl (November 2009)

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Traditional Christmas in Regency England

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The Christmas Feast
Christmas dinner was typically around 4 PM. As the evening progressed a Christmas toast was given to the season and gifts were given out, usually this is when servants also
received their gifts and children would sing Christmas carols for entertainment.

Since water was unsafe to drink, they usually had wine with their meal. (I haven't found a source that indicated what the children drank.) Roast Beef and Venison were the main course. Other meats included goose, pheasant, swan and peacock. The goose was most popular until the mid-century when turkey became a preference. By the Victorian period, turkey was the standard Christmas meat. Often, bakers cooked the meat for those households that contained small ovens. Many would pick up
their food on the way home from church. Like today, stuffing for the bird, vegetables such as potatoes, beans, squash, and carrots, enhanced the meal. 

For dessert there was Mince pie and Christmas pie. Recipes varied by region, but typical ingredients included beef, sugar, raisins, lemons, spices, orange peel, goose, tongue, fowls, eggs, apples and brandy. The pies were eaten each day for 12 days before Christmas to ensure good luck for the next 12 months of the new year. Talk about a chance to gain weight over the holidays!

Another dessert was Christmas pudding, a mixture of 13 ingredients (representing Christ and the twelve apostles) which was boiled in a pudding cloth. Ingredients included suet, brown sugar, raisins, currants, citron, lemon and orange peels, spices, crumbs, flour, eggs, milk and brandy.

Other desserts included Gingerbread and butter shortbread. Children enjoyed sugar plums and ginger nuts.

Christmas Carols
Caroling dates back to the middle ages. Songs such as: Here We Come a Wassailing, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The First Noel, Good Christian Men Rejoice and Greensleeves are all traditional carols from the Middle Ages. Caroling in the form of tramping from door to door had died out with the end of the feudal system in England and didn't revive again until the Victorian period. In Jane Austen’s era, family and friends typically spread good cheer in the comfort of their homes among gathered friends and family at balls, dinners, small parties, and churches.

  • O Come All Ye Faithful was first published in 1760, but not translated into English until 1841.
  • Joy to the World was first published by Isaac Watts' 1719 hymnal, The Psalms of David, but the modern version wasn't written until 1836.
  • Hark the Harold Angels Sing was first written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, amended in 1753 by George Whitfield, but the modern version of today wasn't written until 1840 by Mendohlsson.
  • Silent Night was written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, but wasn't translated into English until 1863.

Christmas Trees & Decorations
Typically, Christmas trees didn't exist as they do now and did in the Victorian period. If a family did have a tree, it was a table top tree and quite plain. Decorations were live greenery with berries, including mistletoe. They burned the yule log as a tradition. It was HUGE and picked out and dried out from the year before. It wasn't brought in until Christmas Eve and hoped to burn through the night and all through Christmas day. They didn't exchange Christmas cards or multiple, elaborate gifts. If they did exchange gifts, it was usually one special hand-made item.

Regency Yuletide -