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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Going Over or Under Your Word Count


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Most publishers have a word count range. Some are 60K-65K, while others are more broad such as 75K-100K. How close does your word count have to be? I always shoot for the middle of the range. That way if I'm a little under, I'll still be over the minimum, and if I'm a little over, I'll still be within the range limit.

My advice is to make sure you have plenty of words--especially on the first draft. When you are writing, plan accordingly whether you write out an outline or have it all in your head like most pansters. It's better to go over than to be under. You can always cut, but if you don't have enough, it is much harder to try and create valuable scenes to slide into your manuscript that won't seem like added fluff. Editors are experts in spotting this scenario. They know every little trick we writers try to use.

When I say I'm over my word count, I mean that I'm over my projected, self-appointed word count, not above the limit for what is allowed by my publisher. 

To avoid going too far over or arriving at my ended destination at being too far under, I always stop writing the first draft around 75% of the way through the manuscript. I evaluate what I've already written, and take an objective look at what is left to write. I try to pinpoint each unwritten scene, estimate word count for each, and make a determination as to what scenes need to be eliminated, combined, or if there are loop holes that don't give closure to all the problems in the story.This is where I may add scenes or change a scene I had planned to write. 


What about you? Do you tend to over-write, under-write, do you always hit your mark? Do you ever stop like me and re-evaluate before you finish?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Free Kindle Downloads - How Do You Feel about Them?


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Recently, my publisher offered a free Kindle download on Amazon for a one-week campaign. I saw advantages and disadvantages to it. Now that the campaign is over, I'd like to offer a few of my thoughts and get your input. 

Main Advantage
People love free things and there are tons of blogs and tweeters out there promoting ANYTHING that's free. I didn't realize how many blogs and Tweeters until we ran this campaign. People I've never heard of were tweeting and blogging about my book--just because it was free. The result? I sold lots of print copies on Amazon--not just free Kindle downloads. My sales rankings were the best they've been since the book was released. Lots of people heard about my book that might have never heard about it if it hadn't been for this campaign. 

One Disadvantage
The only disadvantage I noticed were reviews from Kindle readers who would have otherwise not picked up my book if they'd had to pay for it--probably because it isn't one of their favorite subgenres. When someone gives a review of a book they wouldn't normally read anyway, it does make me wonder about the bias of that review. It's hard to make someone who dislikes historicals, enjoy an historical. That's the bottom line. But because it's free and they have nothing to lose, they'll read it or make the attempt. If they can't resist writing a review, is that review pre-biased? 

What are your thoughts? Do you download free books on Kindle? Do you read genres you otherwise wouldn't try if you don't have to pay for them? If so, have you found new authors you like and will pay for in the future? 


In my case, the number of sales I received outweighs the few "not so favorable reviews", because there weren't that many, and I'm so thankful for that. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

My First Experience at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

As a native North Carolinian with lots of Scottish ancestry, I've always wanted to attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. It was a special weekend to be selling my debut novel, Highland Blessings, as my first experience at the games. To put it into perspective for you, the Highland Games to those with Scottish ancestry is like the Olympics to the rest of the world--and even more with a tradition of culture and history combined.


The first thing I want to tell you is that I had a wonderful time. There was such great hospitality and I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Director, Frank Vance, and his whole team who pulled off a spectacular event--even with stormy weather. The program is excellent and detailed, I'm still reading about the people who were there and those who have made an impact during the early years to make the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games what they have become today. It is full of so much history that this program is a keeper. 

The rains kept me from wearing my 16th century highland gown as I didn't want the hem ruined. Unlike a kilt, my gown reaches the ground. I'll have other opportunities as I hope to attend the Renaissance Festival in October and the Foothill Highland Games in November. 

I sold out of books by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. Next time, I plan to bring more books! It did give me an opportunity to walk around the games and visit with some of our clan tents. We are members of the Fraser, Henderson and MacFarlane Clans. I plan to join Clan Gregor as soon as I can get around to it. I purchased my daughter a Scottish Clan bear and some bagpipe earrings for myself as souvenirs. 


The games are actually held on McRae Meadow with a gorgeous view of Grandfather Mountain in the near distance. Bagpipes played the whole time and I can honestly say I was still hearing bagpipes in my head a couple of days later. The feeling and nostalgia of the Highland Games stays with you for a while and I think that is part of the magic of the event. 

What kind of Games and Entertainment are at the Highland Games?
Competitions range from telephone pole toss (called cabers), bags of hay or (sheafs), Lochaber trump, pipes and drums bands, highland dancing, Scottish country dancing, Grizzly Bike Race, The Bear--a 5-mile foot race, hammer throw, stone toss, weight-bar throw, wrestling, rope tug-of-war. Children even have their own set of competitions and rules.




Track & Field events include: the 100, 220, 400, 880 yard dashes, 1-mile and 2-mile runs, long jump, high jump, triple jump, 26-mile marathon.



You'll experience modern Celtic bands, harpists, parade of tartans, border collies who are trained to herd sheep, fiddle playing, wool weaving, Scottish food and vendors with all kinds of Scottish memorabilia. Individual clan tents surround the outside of the track field where you can get information about the history of your surname an which clan your family line might have belonged to and how to join clans of interest and connections to your ancestry.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Book Review - "Seasons in the Mist" by Deborah Kinnard

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I was swept away by Seasons in the Mist, a wonderful Christian fiction time travel.

First, I'd like to say that I've never read a Christian fiction time travel before. I've read plenty of secular time travels, but Seasons in the Mist was very refreshing. It allows one to use their imagination of another place and time with knowledge of today's world without all the sex and cursing that you sometimes read in secular novels. As a Christian, I think of God as the Father of Time. I loved the way the story weaved in the part about how God might have let Bethany travel back in time to help someone in particular or make some positive impact.

The characters were well-developed, and Deborah Kinnard knows her medieval history! The novel was well-researched, some of the best I've read in this time period. The progression of the plot was appropriate and didn't jar the read out of context and the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine was gradual, but realistic. I loved the language! Some people get all tripped up in medieval language, but I look at it as an opportunity to immerse oneself in the time period and a chance to learn.

There were a few elements that I thought were wrapped up too quickly at the end, but I don't want to give the story away. I will say that I felt quite sorry for Bethany's mother, and I know that my family would have been booking a ticket to the UK and making demands on Bethany's friend Sheila in spite of the fact that I had already talked to them on the phone. Yet, I did like the overall ending.

If you enjoy a good time travel, excellent medieval historical detail, a wonderful romance, and faith in characters you read about, then Seasons in the Mist, is a gratifying novel you don't want to miss!

Back Cover Description
Bethany Lindstrom is well on the way to achieving her goals as a graduate student in medieval history when her trip to Oxford goes awry. On an unplanned visit to Cornwall, while wandering around her hostess's ancient home she stumbles through an unseen portal into the fourteenth century.

Stranded in 1353, Beth knows she must find a way back to her own time or face a life of falsehoods and peril. But with the stern overlord, Baron Michael Veryan, she is swept into the intrigues of King Edward's court, which will test their mettle and their faith in God to the limits--and forever bind their lives together.

About Deborah Kinnard
When she isn't writing, Deborah Kinnard keeps busy with her husband and two daughters, her day job at a big Chicago teaching hospital, reading, playing guitar, participating in outreach team at church, and skiing in the winter. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves as secretary to the Chicago-Northwest Chapter. Visit her website at: www.debkinnard.com.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Making a Family Historical Trip out of a Book Signing


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I had a book signing in Columbia, SC, and while there, we took a day trip into West Columbia where my grandfather, Lee Thomas Hudson, was born in 1912. My dad and aunt came with me and we had a lovely time seeking the exact location where my great-grandfather, Thomas Bennie Hudson, owned a cafe and lived above their shop. The building is still standing after more than 100 years and it has been renovated at 302 Spring St. It's the rose color building with the aqua awnings.

We walked through the new park along the Congaree River where my grandfather used to play as a boy. He learned to swim at the deep part where the Broad River joins the Congaree River. The locals call it the black hole because it is so deep. My grandfather used to tell us that it was as deep as the Jefferson Pilot building in Greensboro, NC. 

The photos are of my dad, Bennie Lee Hudson, and his sister, Judy Hudson, standing in front of the old renovated bridge that links Columbia, to West Columbia. My family lived in West Columbia. The large pile of stone in front of the bridge is what is left of the original bridge from the Civil War. The Confederates blew it up to delay Sherman of the Union Army from coming across. It only delayed them for a day. The Union built another bridge. 

We visited the Caycee Historical Museum where they had school annuals in the early 20th century. We found photos of my grandfather and his sister Alberta when they were in the 8th grade. These are the earliest photos I've ever seen of my grandfather. I only have hard photo copies, but will upload them as soon as I have them scanned.