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, October 29, 2010

A List of Fruits & Vegetables in their Harvest Season


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I'm working on updating a manuscript set in the northwest wilderness of Independence, Missouri in 1845. The book begins in May, and as I was about to write my character eating an apple, it occurred to me that apples might not have been ripe for the picking at that time. My characters are traveling by covered wagon so it isn't as if they can go down into the cellar and pick out a jar of canned apples they might have preserved in the fall. Yes--apples are harvested in the fall!

For this reason, I thought I'd provide a brief outline for when various fruits and  vegetables are harvested and in what season. That way you and I can bookmark this page for future reference. Keep in mind it may vary a bit from region to region, as well as various types of a particular fruit as there are many kinds of apples. If you are being specific or need more details, you may need to do more research.  

Note, some argue that a tomato is not a vegetable, but a fruit. I don't really care. I'm listing it as a vegetable. I'm southern and in my opinion it isn't sweet enough to be a fruit. Also, a lengthy scientific explanation won't budge me on this.


Various Fruits

Apples  July-Oct

Blueberries  Aug-Sept

Cherries  June-July

Grapes  Aug-Oct

Melons  Aug-Sept

Peaches  July-Sept

Pears  Aug-Oct

Plums  Aug-Sept

Pumpkins  Sept-Oct

Rasberries  July-Oct

Strawberries  May/June



Various Vegetables

Beans  July-Sept

Broccoli  July-Nov 

Cabbage  July-Nov

Carrots  Aug-Nov

Cucumbers  July-Sept

Corn  July-Oct

Eggplant  July-Oct

Lettuce  June-Oct

Onions  July-Oct

Peppers  July-Oct

Potatoes  July-Oct

Radishes  May-Oct 

Spinach  May-June, Sept-Oct 

Squash  July-Oct

Tomatoes  July-Oct


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Protect Your Time


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Over the past two weeks I've had to make the difficult decision to reduce my time on a few writing email loops. While I didn't spend a whole lot of time on these loops, I still received digests of all the emails in my inbox and felt obligated to read through them. Too often I was tempted to respond to a few posts, taking time away from my writing, researching, and online promotion. 

I deleted my membership on four loops, went no-mail on one, and joined a new one that is geared toward the location and time period of my next three novels. Last month, I pulled out of my critique group and switched to beta test readers. You could say I'm going through a transitional season--one that is very necessary--especially with the upcoming holidays around the corner. 


What changes have you made to protect your time? What changes have you contemplated?





Monday, October 25, 2010

Advantages of Text to Speech


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I'm hoping for a new Kindle this Christmas. While I'm one of those traditional book lovers who enjoys the smell of a fresh printed book and holding it in my hand, the new text to speech feature on the Kindle is luring me. 

Over a year ago I began having eye problems due to a condition I developed in my eyes from wearing contacts for so many years and not getting enough oxygen to the cornea. To make matters worse I suffer from severe allergies and dry eyes. Too much time on the computer strains my eyes, and since I'm required to be on it for my day job, a text to speech feature on the Kindle would greatly benefit me when I want to read for pleasure. I'd be able to listen to books while driving to and from work and possibly read more books than currently. 

If you have a Kindle and you've used the text to speech feature, will you let me know how you like it? Does it pause between sentences or state the punctuation? Can you set the speed and voice to your personal preferences? I'd love to hear opinions!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Beauty of Caithness, Scotland


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

When I decided to write Highland Sanctuary, I wanted a setting that wasn't as well known in Scotland. I had heard and read many novels set in Galloway, Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. When I discovered Caithness, while researching historic castles, I found my ideal setting. 

Caithness, is a now a county in the far northern tip of Scotland, nestled against the sea. Formerly part of the shire of Inverness, it gained independence in 1455 when the Earl of Caithness gained a grant of of the justiciary or sheriffdom. 

It's beautiful--and different from the rest of the country. For instance, the land is open and flat, lacking trees and forest, known as moorland and covered in peat moss. A few hills are scattered about, but not the kind of mountains often associated in photos of the highlands. Caithness contains plenty of lochs and bog areas. 

In Highland Sanctuary, I created the fictional town of Braighwick and the wee Village of Braigh. This gave me the freedom to create the people and layout of the town, as needed for the purposes of my story. Braigh Castle was based on the ruins of Brough Castle. 

While my characters spoke the same English with a slight Scottish brogue as in my debut novel, Highland Blessings, it's worth noting the language variations in historic Caithness. The area was first inhabited by the Picts, whose language is unknown. By 800 AD the Norse occupied Caithness, and later the Gaelic speakers colonized the area from Scandinavia before the English arrived. Therefore, variations of Norse, Gaelic and English was spoken in different areas of Caithness. 

Another important development in Caithness that affected my story in Highland Sanctuary, was the established religion. By 1477, when my novel takes place, The Church of Scotland, a Catholic denomination, was well established in Caithness and throughout the country. Civil administration parishes were the same as the Church. The Cathedral in my novel is also a product of my imagination after I read about the history of Dornoch Cathedral and Halkirk Highland. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 introduced Protestant theology and in 1689 established the Presbyterian form of church government. 

About Photo
The photo is looking north toward Halkirk in which my characters ride through at one point in Highland Sanctuary.

Souces:
Wildcaithness.org

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Challenge of Saving


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

If you're anything like me, saving and being consistent at it, is a challenge. I have good intentions, I start saving, and then I find excuses. Like most people, I've endured a layoff that threw us into financial instability. Then I helped my husband start a new business with very little planning and preparation. Need I say more about this experience?

I know what it's like to have to hold off on paying one bill to be able to pay another that might be more important. How many times did we make the bad decision to go into the retirement fund to take care of some serious expenses that were eating at our nerves? Too many. 

The idea of making do with less--on purpose--by choice--seems crazy! 

Especially when we have to survive today. Tomorrow will take care of itself, but does it? 

Look at all the poor seniors who used to live busy productive lives who are completely dependent upon the government for their welfare and their healthcare. Social Security isn't a retirement plan and too many seniors are living on it as if it is. If they didn't get to take their dream trips while they were young, they aren't likely to go now. Many of them can barely survive month to month even while living in a home that is paid for. 


The collapse of the housing market and the loss of so many jobs have shattered dreams of owning a home. Many are having to start over with foreclosures and bankruptcies on their financial credit reports. Some are in their 20's, more are in their 30's, but most are in their 40's and 50's. By the time they wait 10 years for their credit report to clear, they will be looking at retirement. 


Is it too late for them?


In the Book of Job, he had lost everything, his health, family and wealth. This is what happened: "And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:10)


Indeed, it is never too late for those of us who belong to God! We may have to change our living style, our habits, our way of thinking, and step out in faith, but if we are willing to try and invest in our savings. God can multiply it by tenfold--a hundredfold. He gave Job twice as much as he had before. But--yes, there is a but--Job had to be faithful to God and not give up. Don't ever give up! It's never too late! Also, it says Job prayed for his friends. If you have friends who are giving unwise advice, making bad decisions--don't judge them, pray for them.


We all have to start somewhere. It will be hard for someone with no job to save. You have to first keep believing for the restoration of a job. For those of us who are working, we need to set up an amount that is automatically deducted from our checking accounts or from our automatic deposits to a savings account. If you don't see it, sometimes it is easier to part with and to live without. For me, setting up an automatic deposit to savings took care of that inconsistent behavior I had--and my excuses.


Make this commitment to God, yourself, and your future. Too many Americans are living on borrowed credit and not saving enough. Then when things happen--a job loss, a serious illness, an accident, an economic collapse--they aren't prepared to survive the lean years without some serious repercussions. If you are already saving, consider bumping up your savings--even if it is only by $5 or $10. 


Let's put our faith into action and step out together! What are your thoughts on The Challenge of Saving?

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Writers Seeking Mentors


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

From time to time, I receive requests from new writers seeking a mentor on their road to publication. It's true the journey to publication can be long and hard. For me, it was a 14-year process. A little bit of help along the way is so valuable. There are many unspoken rules in the industry that long-time writers know that new writers may not. The only way to discover these tidbits of information is to put in your time on the writing loops, submitting and gaining responses to your work, entering contests, joining writing groups that provide workshops and interaction with other writers. Another short-cut would be to find a mentor to guide you.

I've never mentored a new writer. It isn't because I don't want to, but because I still work a full-time job outside the home. The only way I can get my own novels written is to do so at night and on the weekends. Now that I have deadlines and promotion requirements, I have even less time than I did before publication. 

As a result, I offer my blog as a mentoring resource to other new writers. Let's interact here. I welcome your questions. Most of the time, if you have a question, someone else is lurking and would like to also know the answer. So don't be shy. Every question is valuable and will provide insight to others. Feel free to let me know if there are topics you would like me to blog about. In the meantime, here is a link to all my Writing Tips on this blog.

Also, if you are looking for a mentor and you're having trouble finding one, don't be discouraged. It isn't the end of the world. I never had a writing mentor and many of my published friends never had one either. Let God be the one to guide you. He's the best writing mentor of all.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Using Out of Copyright Material Responsibly


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Before you can understand what is out of copyright, you must first understand the Copyright Law and the true definition of the terms Public Domain and Royalty-free. It's much more complicated than most people realize. If you write, blog, create music, videos, book trailers, use photos on websites, blogs and marketing materials, you can't afford not to have a clear understanding of these issues--especially as sue-happy as people are these days looking to make some quick, easy money.

What is the Copyright Law?
It varies from country to country, but since I live in the U.S., I will attempt to focus on the U.S. Copyright Law, which governs the legally enforceable rights of creative and artistic works of the author and/or copyright owner. It is a federal law and authorized by the United States Constitution. The first Copyright Act was established in 1790 and there have been several more acts, amendments and additions since then.  

The purpose of the Copyright Law is to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries, including the creation of works of art, literature, music,drama, pantomimes, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, audiovisual, sound recordings, derivative, compilations, architectural, and digital works. Other issues dealt with under the Copyright Law include registrations, first right ownership, licenses, transfers, exclusive rights, copyright infringement, duration, etc. 

Here is a great article on "10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained"

What is Public Domain?
Works are in the Public Domain if they are not covered by intellectual property rights, such as copyright or if the intellectual property rights to the works have expired. If you go to a website and do not see a copyright symbol, statement, or credit given to the author or owner, you cannot assume it is in the Public Domain. Some copyright registrations can be renewed once they expire, preventing them from expiring.

Expiration of Copyright into Public Domain


Unpublished or Unregistered Works - Life of the author + 70 years, if author is unknown, 120 years after date of creation.

Published and First-Time Registered Works


Before 1923 - Public Domain (Expired)


1923 - 1977 - Published without a copyright notice - Public Domain


1978 - March 1, 1989 - Published without notice or registered within 5 years - Public Domain 


1978 - March 1, 1989 - Published without notice, but registered within 5 years - If a work of corporate authorship, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.


1923 - 1963 - Published with notice, but copyright not renewed - Public Domain


1923-1969 - Published with notice, but copyright was renewed - 95 years after author's death


1964 - 1977 - Published with notice - 95 years after author's death


Between  1977- 2002 - These details are complicated, click here for more information. 


After 2002 - 70 years after the death of author. If a work of corporate authorship, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

AnytimeWorks prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person's official duties - Public Domain


What is Royalty-Free?
The term royalty-free means that once the content is licensed (meaning the license the royalty-free license is purchased) under a set of guidelines, the licensee is normally free to use it in perpetuity without paying additional royalty charges for each subsequent use. It is still most likely under copyright and not necessarily in the Public Domain.


Sources:
Wikipedia


Cornell University


10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained

Friday, October 01, 2010

Welcome Autumn!


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Every year I welcome autumn with open arms. I love the cool breeze, the nip in the air, the morning dew and frost, and the beautiful splash of colors gracing the landscape like a majestic canvas painting. And the harvest festivals! At no other time of the year are there so many wonderful festivals with games, activities, arts and crafts, culture, history, etc. 

Usually my birthday request is to spend the weekend in the mountains in a log cabin where it is so gorgeous with color. This year my family has been battling some issues with mono, strep, and my mom is in the hospital. Even though my birthday isn't until the end of the month (day before Halloween), I think I'm going to hang around close to home. I've been traveling so much since the release of my debut novel, Highland Blessings, and I feel a little weary. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy autumn and local festivals around here. 



One place I will be this year is the Carolina Renaissance Faire in Huntersville, NC, which runs for six weeks starting October 9th. Opening weekend is half off. I will be participating in their first literary festival and signing copies of Highland Blessings, October 16th & 17th. Here's a link with more information, Carolina Renaissance. I wrote a blog about my first experience at the Carolina Renaissance, here. While this has a touristic feel about it, most people dress up in costumes--guests and staff, they have shows with jugglers, acrobats, knights jousting, games, children rides powered by men and no electricity, music, fire eaters, a petting zoo, bagpipes, harpists, archery, tomato toss, etc. 

Another place I haven't visited in a while is Old Salem, in Winston-Salem, NC. We lived near there for eight years and my daughter says she doesn't remember going there. It is an historic Moravian community that has been preserved and restored in the very spot it was built during the colonial period. It reminds me of Williamsburg, but with a slightly different culture. They have excellent activities in the fall and decorate it beautifully during the Christmas holidays. 

Old Salem is very authentic with tour guides, a children's museum, book store, a tavern where you may eat lunch or dinner, the awesome bakery where you can see them baking bread and cookies the old fashioned way, other shops, different houses and buildings as museums, re-enactors, etc. 

And finally there is the 7-acre Corn Maize at Rural Hill Farms where the Lake Norman Highland Games are held in the spring of April each year on the historic Davidson Farm north of Charlotte, NC. Each year, they create a complex maize with paths that have a unique educational theme of 7,700 feet, 466 individual turns, 125 intersections. It's like a treasure map enabling you to piece together each section at a time as you find clues, 12 pieces. There are drinks, snacks, and a few things for sale outside the maize. It's great fun! 

I wrote a blog post about it, here

For more information on Rural Hill Farm - A Scottish History, visit here


What are you planning for YOUR fall excursions? Please share about the fall festivals and faires in your area!