The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

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.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Update on My Book & Abingdon Press

I wanted to share a few updates on my book.

The title has been changed from Promised Blessings to Highland Blessings. I really like the new title and I'm excited about it. The release date is still the same, May 2010.

Publisher's Weekly printed a great article on the new fiction line that Abingdon Press is starting in the middle of this economic recession at a time when so many other publishers are cutting back. They quoted my editor, Barbara Scott, and gave some insight as to what is going on with a few other publishers.

I'm so honored and blessed that my book, Highland Blessings, will be one of ten books published with Abingdon's Spring 2010 list. You can check out the article, here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CFBA Book Review - "Daisy Chain"

is introducing
Daisy Chain

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)
Mary DeMuth

Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.

The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.

In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Daisy Chain, go HERE.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dialogue & Action Tags Checklist

When writing dialogue you must include dialogue tags and action tags. Dialogue tags (descriptive tags) tells the reader who is talking. Action tags (beats) tells the reader what a character is doing while talking. Without these necessary tags, dialogue will be stilted, unnatural and boring. But as with any good thing, you can over do it and there are guidelines that should be followed.

  • Limit your use of he/she said. Instead, focus more on what the character is doing while talking and add action tags.

  • Example:
    "I bought a ticket to Reno. I leave in three hours." Jamie dumped a pile of clothes in her suitcase.

  • Use said more often when there are more than two people in a conversation in order to identify who is talking, but be sure to include action tags as well. An action tag can give a hint as to who is talking just as easily as using said.

  • Limit use of other substitutes for said, such as he/she whispered, yelled, cried, asked, whined, growled, etc. The word said is so unobtrusive that it hardly gets noticed, but too many of these substitute words can jar the reader from the story.

  • When you do use said, add an action tag with it to make the reading flow better.

  • Example:
    "I bought a ticket to Reno. I leave in three hours," Jamie said, dumping a pile of clothes in her suitcase.

  • Read your story aloud and listen to how it sounds. Is is confusing? Can you identify who is talking? Can you see what each character is doing and their facial expressions? Using dialogue and action tags can bring a scene to life.

  • Friday, February 20, 2009

    The Carolina Tartan

    Even though I was born and bred in the Carolinas, it was only recently that I discovered that the Carolinas had their very own tartan. No other two American states share the same tartan except North and South Carolina.

    Peter MacDonald designed the Carolina Tartan in 1981, but it was his father, Micheil MacDonald who came up with the idea. The design was taken from a pre-1800 sample from the Prince Edward Charles Stuart tartan. Since King Charles II of England was the last king of Scotland to be crowned at Scone, January 1, 1651, and it was said that he wore a jacket of ribbons suspected to have been the Royal Stewart Tartan. King Charles II opened the Carolinas through a land grant in 1663.

    For further reading, visit:

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    CFBA Book Review - Gingham Mountain

    is introducing
    Gingham Mountain

    Barbour Books (February 1, 2009)
    Mary Connealy

    Mary's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubbornness. She just kept typing away. She thinks the reason she did it was because she was more or less a dunce around people—prone to sit silently when she really ought to speak up (or far worse, speak up when she ought to sit silently).

    Mary had all these things she wanted to say in her head; the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, which she'd think of an hour after she'd left the store, the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needed help, but didn't occur to her until they had solved their problems themselves, the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which she didn't say because she's not an idiot. She kept all this wit to herself, much to the relief of all who know her, and then wrote all her great ideas into books. It’s therapeutic if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

    So then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong came along and said, “Hey, we’ll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session.” That’s as sweet as it gets.
    Mary's journey to publication is the same as everyone’s except for a few geniuses out there who make it hard for all of us. And even they probably have an Ode to Roast Beef or two in their past.

    There are two other books in this Lassoed In Texas Series: Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon.

    All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker.

    When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare?

    Grant Cooper is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train and runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he's made slave labor out of eight orphaned children. He crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father.

    Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she's so pretty and she isn't really bad to his children, it's Grant she can't stand. But he is inexplicably drawn to Hannah.

    Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage? Will he win her love or be caught in the clutches of a scheming seamstress?

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Gingham Mountain, go HERE.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Currituck Lighthouse - NC

    Currituck Lighthouse was the last brick lighthouse built on the North Carolina Outerbanks in 1875. It costed $178,000 and stands 162 feet tall. It's one of two open lighthouses in the state that allows public visitors to climb 214 steel steps up to the top. Having been up there a few times, one can see a beautiful sight from the top.

    Even though it wasn't built until 1875, Congress approved the funds for the lighthouse in the 1860's, but the Civil War delayed its construction. Since the surrounding area is too shallow for large ships, the vessels carrying the one million bricks and other materials had to anchor as far out as eight miles and were carried to shore in smaller vessels that could maneuver through shallow water. North Carolina required all their brick lighthouses to be painted in different designs so they would not be so easily confused. The Currituck Lighthouse was the only brick lighthouse that was ordered to remain in its original state as it is today.

    The light was white with a red flash that occurred every 90 seconds. The keeper was responsible for hand-cranking the weights beneath the lantern every 2 1/2 hours. In 1939, the light was switched to an electric automated system that can be seen as far as 19 miles out do sea.

    There were three houses for the lighthouse keepers. The smaller house is now a museum and shop that sells lighthouse related items and gifts. The larger keeper house was a white victorial style home built in 1876. It fell into disrepair where vines had grown along the outside and inside of the house. It was restored in the 1980's and the roof was restored in 1996. The house is listed on the list of National Register of Historic Places and is only open on certain occasions due to ongoing renovations. It was not open when I was there.

    For further reading:

  • Lighthouses of the Carolinas: A Short History and Guide by Terrance Zepke

  • Images of America North Carolina Lighthouses and Lifesaving Stations by John Hairr

  • Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    CFBA Book Review - Cry in the Night

    is introducing
    A Cry In The Night

    Thomas Nelson (February 3, 2009)
    Colleen Coble

    Colleen Coble's thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

    2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational Romance
    Without a Trace, Thomas Nelson
    2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year

    The highly anticipated novel that delivers what romantic suspense fans have long awaited-the return to Rock Harbor.

    Bree Nichols gets the shock of her life when her husband-presumed dead-reappears.

    Bree Nichols and her search and rescue dog Samson discover a crying infant in the densely forested woods outside of Rock Harbor, Michigan. Against objections from her husband, Kade, who knows she'll become attached, Bree takes the baby in. Quickly she begins a search for the mother-presumably the woman reported missing just days earlier.

    While teams scour the forests, Bree ferrets out clues about the missing woman. But she soon disco
    vers something more shocking: Bree's former husband-long presumed dead in a plane crash-resurfaces. Is he really who he says he is? And should she trust him again after all these years?An engaging, romantic suspense novel from critically-acclaimed author Colleen Coble.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of , go HERE

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Dialogue Checklist

    Editing dialogue could garner enough information by itself to warrant a whole book on the subject, but since most people only want a quick checklist, I'll try and stick to one blog post.

  • Is this section of dialogue essential to the story? If so, it should do one of the following: Advance the Plot, Reveal Character, or Reflect a Theme.

  • Does your dialogue sound like real life speech or spoken narrative? When people talk, they speak in phrases and their sentences do not always include proper verbs, sentence structure and grammar.

  • Does your character's voice match his/her gender, age, time period, culture, and occupation? A race car driver isn't likely to discuss sonnets by Shakespeare or mathematical equations. A teenager in 1810 won't be saying things like "cool" and "geez". A Scottish or Irish man will probably refer to his daughter as "lass" not "girl". These are just a few examples of what you might consider when editing dialogue.

  • What kind of words should your character use that would show his/her personality? For example, in Back to the Future, the professor would always say, "Great Scots!" when he was excited, surprised or upset. In Gone with the Wind, when Scarlett O'Hara wanted to dismiss someone's warning, she would say, "Oh, fiddle dee dee!"

  • Have you used appropriate action tags between dialogue? It should show your characters doing something while they talk, not just state that they've said something. Example: "My drawings have always given me inspiration." Betty picked up her cup and sipped her tea.

  • Did you limit the number of creative tags that tell the reader how to interpret the dialogue that is said rather than showing it? Example: He replied, She cried, He pouted, She groaned, etc.

  • Friday, February 06, 2009

    Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence

    Almost a year before the Continental Congress declared independence from the King of England, leaders from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina wrote the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775. The Declaration was an immediate response to the Battle of Lexington-Concord fought in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. 

    The 27 signers were leading citizens of Mecklenburg, Rowan and Cabarrus Counties and it was read before the people in front of the courthouse. Captain James Jack carried a report of the Declaration to the Second Continential Congress where it had assembled in Philadephia. 

    Apparently, Mecklenburg's courier stopped in Wachovia (Salem), which is now Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on his way home from Philadelphia. A transcript is recorded in the Records of the Moravians of North Carolina, stating that Congress thought the Mecklenburg Declaration premature. Almost a year later, the Continental Congress wrote the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776. 

    Since many local records were destroyed when Mecklenburg Secretary, John McKnitt. Alexander's home was burned in 1800, the events were recorded from witnesses who were still living from the Revolutionary War. However, the Moravian records in Old Salem to give credit to the claims. Charlotte began celebrating the Mecklenburg Declaration with 60 Revolutionary Veterans participating in the 1825 celebration. 

    For further reading, visit the following links:

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    CFBA Book Review - Desires of Her Heart

    is introducing
    Desires Of Her Heart

    Avon Inspire (February 10, 2009)
    Lyn Cote


    Lyn Cote married her real-life hero and was blessed with a son and daughter. She loves game shows, knitting, cooking, and eating! She and her husband live on a beautiful lake in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Now that the children have moved out, she indulges three cats: V-8 (for the engine, not the juice), Sadie, and Tricksey. In the summer, she writes using her laptop on her porch overlooking the lake.

    And in the winter, she sits by the fireplace her husband installed with the help of a good neighbor during their first winter at the lake. Lyn's inspirational novels feature American women who step up to the challenges of their times and succeed in remaining true to the values of liberty and justice for all. The story of America is one of many nationalities and races coming together to forge our one nation under God, and Lyn's novels reflect this with accurate historical detail, always providing the ring of authenticity. Strong Women, Brave Stories.


    A New Orleans lady and a half-breed frontiersman become unlikely allies as they travel the wilds of texas.

    In 1821, when circumstances make it impossible for her to remain in New Orleans, Dorritt and her family head west to join Stephen Austin's settlement and recoup their fortune in Texas.

    Quinn is a man of the frontier who has made a name for himself as a peerless scout. But as he and Dorritt's party begin a grueling trek across untamed Texas, the success of their journey is in grave doubt. Mexico has broken with the Spanish Crown, and armies from both countries—plus marauding Comanches—roam the pine forests and prairies. And one of the party is plotting destruction.

    Now, with their lives joined in a virgin land fraught with peril, can Dorritt and Quinn put all their trust in God and receive the desires of their hearts?

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Desires Of Her Heart, go HERE.

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Point of View Checklist for Writing

    When establishing point of view (POV), the viewpoint from which the story is told, the author must determine if the story will be told through first person, third person or omniscient POV.

    Omniscient POV is less intimate to the reader. It is basically from the author's POV and can give an overall viewpoint of the story for all the characters without a personal narrative of a particular character's POV or intimate thoughts. Example: Lori drove home from work too late for dinner with the family.

    First Person POV is the character telling what has or is happening. Example: I drove home from work, worried that I would be late for dinner.

    Third Person POV is through a chosen character's POV. Example. Lori drove home from work, worried that she would be late for dinner.

  • Do you have any scenes that alternate between omniscient, first person or third person POV? Make sure you consistently use the same type of POV throughout your novel. Some authors have started out a story in the omniscient POV to set the scene and then dropped into first person or third person. This is possible when experienced and established, but if you are just starting out, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • Make sure you don’t have any head-hopping or POV slips where you switch from one character’s POV to a different character’s POV within the same scene. Do you have appropriate scene breaks between different character’s POV?

  • Scene breaks should not be every other paragraph just to insert each character’s POV. A good scene length should be at least two to three pages and no longer than eight to ten pages unless you write a scene per chapter. Most novels have two to three scenes per chapter. Do your scenes and chapters fall in this range?

  • Does a character see something he/she can’t technically see in his/her POV? For example, if you are in the heroine’s POV, and it says, she blushed crimson. She can’t see the color of her face unless she’s looking in a mirror. She can feel it or know it, such as, she felt heat climb to her face.

  • Does a character see or know something in his/her thoughts that he/she couldn’t have possibly heard or witnessed without being present in another scene or without it being communicated to them in some way?

  • Does your POV character know another character’s thoughts? Your POV character can speculate and form an opinion of what another character is thinking or feeling based on his/her perception of the other person’s behavior and dialogue, but they aren’t going to know that character’s thoughts.

  • Does each scene and chapter immediately identify whose POV that section is written in? Don’t wait several paragraphs to make this distinction. You want to keep your readers enthralled, not confuse them and make them wonder about whose thoughts they’re reading.

  • Do you establish POV in each paragraph by first using the antecedent noun and then substituting with the pronoun? Always go from specific to general.

      Incorrect example: His words stung and she gripped the door handle. Lori clenched her jaw to stifle the sob in her throat as she turned and walked through the threshold.

      Correct example: His words stung and Lori gripped the door handle. She clenched her jaw to stifle the sob in her throat as she turned and walked through the threshold.
  • Does the first scene of the book begin in the main character’s POV? Readers often identify with the first POV character as the main character. This is not an absolute, but something to consider as a standard.

  • Do you begin each scene or chapter in the POV of the character that has the most at stake or who needs to find out something or achieve a goal?

  • Do you end each scene or chapter in the POV of the character with the biggest problem, anticipated reaction, or who will be affected the most by what has just happened or what was just said?

  • Does your POV character think of a description of a room, scene, clothing or person in specific details that he/she wouldn’t know due to lack of education, gender, or station? For example, if you’re writing in the hero’s POV, he isn’t likely to know the heroine’s fashion designer or the type of stitches in how it’s sewn. A man will simply notice the color, basic material, whether it’s conservative, low-cut, and how it hangs on a woman’s figure. Be specific where it’s appropriate.

    This POV Checklist is a guideline not a list of absolute rules. If you decided to deviate from this list, make sure you have an appropriate reason, that it won’t confuse the reader, and that you don’t do it often.