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, December 17, 2010

What's Your Favorite Christmas Song?


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

My favorite Christmas song is O' Holy Night. Doesn't the sound of that go along with my burning candle? My dad loves The Little Drummer Boy. What's your favorite?

This year we are struggling to get into the Christmas spirit, which is quite unusual for me. A few years ago, I'd be singing and playing Christmas songs in October and driving everyone in my family nuts by Christmas. This year I haven't felt that joy and neither has my husband. I think it may be because we know we're losing a loved one. While we are thankful to have one more Christmas with him, it doesn't take away the sadness that it is the last. 

If you haven't seen one of my previous posts, my father-in-law is dying of stage 4 lung cancer. He has a PET scan next week to see if it has spread. He's now coughing up a lot of blood and we are told this is normal, but he's starting to have quite a bit of pain that is concerning us. 


After my husband told me about their doctor visit yesterday, it made me wonder about how such a thing was diagnosed in the past. Before all the CT and PET scans and MRI's, how was cancer diagnosed or was it? With him coughing up so much blood, would they have misdiagnosed him as having TB? I wonder how many people were thought to have TB, but really had lung cancer or something else?


All this wondering brings me to another question. (Can you tell I'm an analyzer?) Is it better to know you only have 3-6 months to die, or not know? People in the 18th and 19th centuries didn't always know. They might have noticed failing health, but they didn't know how long they could go on feeling like so weak and different. Or perhaps, it's worse to know you aren't feeling well, but NOT why. Sometimes it's the NOT KNOWING that can drive us as bonkers as THE KNOWING. 


Forgive me for the sporadic blog posts this week. I wasn't sure what to write about and my thoughts weren't always on the focus of this blog. In spite of our recent news, and the news that my father must have some minor upcoming surgeries, I HAVE been writing as it is often my therapy. However, I've been experiencing a lack of energy, which I'm hoping to overcome after the holidays. My husband and I plan to put ourselves on a new healthy diet, and get back on an exercise schedule. I do believe that will help. 


We appreciate everyone's prayers. So many have written to say that you are praying for our family and we are so thankful. Bless you!


Don't forget to tell which Christmas song is your favorite! Today I'm focusing on HAPPY thoughts and Christmas parties and spending time with friends.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Preserve Great Ideas on Mobile Technology


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Remember those old movies where a writer might be sitting in a restaurant somewhere and a brilliant story idea or marketing concept would come to mind? This is before laptops, iphones, ipads, etc. The writer looks around for something to write on, s/he might use a napkin, the back of a fortune cookie slip or something else.

Over the holidays you will probably be surrounded by family and friends at Christmas parties, going last minute shopping, opening gifts, viewing light displays, at church services, Christmas dramas, special dinners--and all of these events will likely inspire ideas and your writing muse.

You may not be in a place or situation where you can take advantage of writing it down, but you still don't have to let the brilliant idea fly out the window of your memory. Use your phone. Text or email it to yourself. That way when you finally are at home with time to concentrate on expanding the idea into a finished product, you have something to reference. 

Mobile technology is more than just a way to communicate with others and connect to the Internet, it's also a back up plan for inspiring ideas when you're on the go!

Have you tried using your iphone, Blackberry or Droid as a back-up for info when you're on the go? If not, why not, please share!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Blessing of Christian Music

This morning as I was driving my daughter to school and listening to the Christian music station we often enjoy, I was reminded of how things have changed from my childhood compared to today. When I was 13, there were no Christian music stations unless it was gospel music or talk shows with preaching. What was available definitely didn't encourage a 13 year old to listen to it. 

I remember listening to pop rock and feeling a little guilty that it wasn't anything that glorified God. Even as a teen I had this desire, but I didn't want to be bored to death with the only stations that were available. I remember telling God that if He would create a Christian rock station that I would change over to that and listen to it for the rest of my life. Now we have three local Christian rock stations, and as I travel from city to city, I can generally find a Christian rock station somewhere on the radio wherever I go. Isn't it just like God to go over and beyond what we ask for?

I remember back in the early to mid 80's how so many Christians were afraid that rock n'roll and pop music, especially heavy metal, was a deception by the devil. They would play the records backwards and you would hear some of those evil, subliminal messages. I realize that some of it really was and still is evil, planting strongholds in people's minds and that is why I longed for Christian rock. 

Then as the birth of Christian rock began to emerge, the fears of it being another deception by the devil to steal our children and teens built a huge resistance to it by the Christian community. In fact, if it wasn't for this fear, my generation may have had a chance at experiencing the blessing of Christian rock music and radio stations sooner. But God heard the prayers of those of us who were praying for it, and He delivered!

My daughter doesn't know what it is like not to have these Christian stations. She has grown up with them. I recognize them as the blessing they are, but does her generation realize this blessing or do they take it for granted? One thing I do know is that she skips through all the other stations and only wants to listen to the stations she has grown up listening to. It's like second-nature to her. Anything else feels foreign to her--and I'm so thankful.

Also, I've noticed her listening to more of the stories and ministry opportunities that are shared on Christian radio. While it isn't a sermon, she's still learning about God's word, His biblical principles, caring and giving to others such as the Christmas Shoe Box, how the radio stations survive by donations, local concerts coming to our area, testimonies that she has asked me to explain. She is learning from our Christian station and God is planting seeds in her, and I feel so blessed as this was my prayer years ago and I get to see the fruits of it. 

How has Christian radio/music blessed you? How has it changed your life?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Surviving by Writing Multiple Sub-Genres

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I've attended all the writing workshops and endured the lectures about developing an author brand and sticking with it. Yes, I see the value in doing this. When readers hear your name, it's a wonderful idea that they have a particular thought or idea in mind of who you are. J.K. Rowling brings to mind Harry Potter books. Nora Roberts makes one think of contemporary romance. Stephen King screams horror. Stephanie Meyer provokes images of vampires. 

Then there are the arguments that an author's readers need to know what to expect from their books. To keep from confusing readers' expectations, some publishers insist on an author writing under various pen names for different subgenres. Nora Roberts also writes as J.D. Robb for her mysteries. Jayne Ann Krentz writes contemporary romance, and as Amanda Quick she writes historical romance. This is the traditional method of managing authors who write multiple subgenres. 
Are these methods antiquated with all the multi-faceted changes taking place in the publishing industry? 
Consider this, Nora Roberts has become so huge and popular that some of her J.D. Robb books are also being promoted as Nora Roberts books. What's the point in having both names? I'm not convinced there ever was one, or maybe there was when she first started out a couple of decades ago, but now it no longer matters. When people go to an author's website, the biggest promotional item for authors these days, readers learn all the pen names they write under. As soon as you land on Jayne Ann Krentz website, you see, "Jayne Ann Krentz is Amanda Quick is Jayne Castle." It's called cross-platforming, and with today's technology, cross-promotion, cross-platforming, cross-publication, and joining all the social media networks--are all methods of building an author's platform and identity--and they are all expected. 
Therefore, it is MY humble opinion that crossing subgenres that actually compliment each other may be a benefit to an author's career and platform. For instance, if an author writes romance and mysteries, it will not be a huge leap to write romantic suspense. An historical author who writes medieval romances may not lose readers if she writes Victorian romances, because historical readers often read more than one time period, even if they like one era best. Amish readers may also like Mennonite and Quaker novels. Granted, an author wouldn't want to write Christian fiction and paranormal. I'm referring to subgenres that compliment each other and where readers are most likely to cross over.

Are readers confused by multiple subgenres written by one author? I'm not, are you? When I pick up a Liz Curtis Higgs' novel, judging by the package, the cover, and the back cover copy, I know whether it is one of her historical fiction novels set in Scotland or the Bad Girls of the Bible series. They are completely different, but written by the same author, and I am never confused. It wouldn't upset me to pick up a Robin Lee Hatcher book that is a contemporary or a different novel by the same author that was set in WWII. Have you?

There is a tiny candle burning inside of me that rebels at the thought of only writing in one subgenre and as I'm seeing the face of the publishing industry forever changing, I'm wondering if my instincts are correct in this--or perhaps it's the Holy Spirit leading me on my author journey? Authors are in the business of surviving and/or thriving at their craft. The bottom line is sales, or we don't get to keep writing for publication. 
With so many publishers merging and buying up all the mid-sized publishers, mom and pop bookstores going out of business, mega-chain bookstores limiting their physical locations to well-populated areas, and online book sales surpassing hardcover book sales, publishing contracts with authors are changing. New authors aren't getting their debut novels published unless they can demonstrate an online presence and a platform that will promote sales. Some publishers won't even offer a contract to a published author unless they can demonstrate previous sales of 20,000 or more per book. Authors are having to hire their own publicists or do the promotional work themselves in addition to writing. The days of writing and letting the publisher's publicist come up with creative ideas and campaigns to promote an author's book are long gone. 
In short, the midlist authors are shrinking to an hour-glass image. Those that are on top with the best sales and rankings are thriving and get the free publicity from their publishers, because publishers can only afford to invest where profits are a sure thing. Other midlist authors are sliding down the tightening belt around the middle to one or two available publishers or to small local publishers with fewer distribution strategies and print-runs. This also means smaller advances, lower royalty percentage rates. 
For these midlist authors, those who want to do more than merely survive, may have to consider writing multiple subgenres to increase their platform and income level. Some supplement their income from speaking engagements and workshops, but midlist authors aren't able to command huge fees so the supplement is often inconsistent, varied, and is never a guarantee. It's the same with articles and short stories, but these are usually one-time payments and a higher quantity is necessary to make a dent in the bills that need to be paid. 

Writing for various subgenres in a book platform can continue bringing in royalty sales--especially e-books which have no limit on shelf life space. Different publishers have different reading audiences and marketing and sales platforms and distributions. An author will find a group of readers writing for one publisher that may be different writing for another publisher, but that author may gather loyal readers that will follow that author through the author's website, blog, and social media platforms regardless of where the author goes for publication. This is author platform--a bit of stability--in a publishing industry where things are so volatile.

If you still want to write under two different pen names, consider the fact that you will have to pay the costs of additional marketing online features and promotional items such as bookmarks, post cards, business cards, magnets, book plates, ads, graphic design, branding, website, etc. 

If you would like more information on writing for multiple subgenres, here is a great article entitled, Genre-Hopping Your Way Out of the Midlist

Please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Book Review - "The Master's Wall" by Sandi Rog


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Once I started reading The Master's Wall, I was hooked and frustrated when I had to lay it down to take care of real daily life. I loved how this book begins with the hero and heroine as children and how they grow up knowing each other as best friends and then their relationship transitions into the attraction of adulthood. It takes place in biblical Rome, a time when children were expected to grow up as young as twelve, thirteen and fourteen. By the end of the book, the heroine is only fourteen and considered grown. When I think of my own thirteen year old, it makes my mind spin. 

The hero is thrust into the role of the protector, but at one point in the book he feels betrayed by the heroine--and rightly so. It's a beautiful story of love, redemption, forgiveness and great sacrifice--the ultimate sacrifice. The hero shares his faith in spite of all the odds against him, knowing he could lose his life in a world of pagan gods. When it seems like there is no hope for escape, a realistic solution and deliverance happens to bring the story 360 degrees to a happy and satisfying ending. Yet, you'll remain on the edge of your seat, flipping the pages until the very last page. 

The Master's Wall has become one of my all-time favorite books. I think it is right up there with Redeeming Love--and that is saying a lot since Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is my favorite book. 

I did read one review that criticized the book for some minor historical errors. I am not an expert on biblical history and Rome, and therefore, was not bothered by the things this one reviewer pointed out. My advice is to read The Master's Wall and enjoy this great story!

Back Cover Description

He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other. 
After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.