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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

See the New Bookmarks for "Highland Sanctuary"

I wanted to share the new bookmarks I've created for my upcoming novel, Highland Sanctuary. I've posted an image of both the front and back. You can click on the image to make it larger. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Writers, Network with Agents & Editors


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

If I could give aspiring writers and established authors one piece of advice, it would be to network. When most of us hear the word network, we think about networking with other authors. Agents and editors are on a separate level from the rest of us, and we can only talk to them when we have something to pitch. Please know that this is a false perception and this thought process only hurts our career and grows a deep divide that shouldn't exist. 

Even if you aren't published or a well-known author, if they recognize your name from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your comments on their blog, a writer's conference, or writing contests they've judged, they will pay extra attention to your query letter when they receive it. Marketing yourself doesn't begin after your get your first book published, it begins way before then as a pre-published author. You may be a shy introvert, but online social networking is a great opportunity for those of us with this problem. It helps break the ice for when we attend writing conferences in person. It builds name recognition in the industry.

Please note I am NOT advocating that you harass editors and agents, but network with them as you would with other authors. Be positive and encouraging when you leave comments. Ask questions that relate to the topic of discussion--not every discussion is a lead back to your book. Learn their likes and dislikes. This will give you a better idea of what kind of books to pitch to them at writing conferences and how to write your query letters to appeal to them as individuals. 

For example, their submission guidelines may say that they accept historical Christian fiction, but one editor may have a heart for Regencies while another may really prefer early 19th century. How will you know this? By networking with them, being a friend, and paying attention. Would you invite a friend to go golfing if you know that person really prefers ice skating? Of course not. 

People are people regardless of their titles and roles. Keep this in mind when networking with agents and editors. They will appreciate your professionalism and courteous manners more than anything.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Highland Blessings Won a Holt Medallion Award

GREAT NEWS! I'm pleased to announce that Highland Blessings won the Best First Book Category in the Holt Medallion Awards of Merit & also finaled in the top 5 in the Long Inspirational Category!
 Super congratulation to all the winners! Here's a link to the listing: 
http://www.virginiaromancewriters.com/Contests/holtwinners.html

Adapting to Writing Under Contract


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Two years ago I attended a private Abingdon Press author retreat in PA. I was contracted for my debut novel, Highland Blessings, but not yet contracted for any other books. I was surrounded by first-time authors like myself and other experienced authors who were multi-published, meaning three or more published books. It was a weekend of spiritual awakening and lots of growth. I didn't know it then, but many things from that weekend would last with me until this day.


I was talking to one of the authors who had as many as 30 books in print. I was telling her how hard it was to spend a whole year writing a book and wait until it's finished before submitting it anywhere. She looked at me and said, "You're contracted now. You need to be working on as many proposals as possible and concentrate on submitting them. Don't wait until you're finished with any of them." 

While I knew this to be something multi-published authors could do, I didn't think it was something I could do without having several books in print with a sales record. Her piece of advice turned out to be the best thing I've followed and now I'm sharing it with you.

One of the reasons I hesitated to send in an unfinished proposal is that I had a full-time job and it scared me to commit to something with a deadline, knowing my available time would be limited to working on it. My deadlines would still be the same as a novelist who wrote full-time. I took the plunge anyway and I followed her advice.

The next four books and two novellas were all contracted on proposal. This meant I had a concept or a synopsis in mind, but the books still needed to be written, the characters created, the research conducted, the plot worked out--everything.

Writing under contract does bring a new set of pressures that I didn't experience before. These new circumstances are requiring me to re-prioritize my time, be flexible, set goals, and plan, plan, plan.

Here are a few examples of what has changed and how I've adapted:
1) Set Flexible Priorities  - Before I could work on whatever I chose as the muse hit me. If I wanted to work on a medieval for a few months and set my Regency aside, I could. Now I must work on the books with the upcoming contract due first. I must continue to promote my debut novel and build my platform while working on my upcoming contracts. Still, even promotion must take a back seat to meeting my writing deadlines. For this reason, I must constantly evaluate my goals, my progress, and adjust my daily activities accordingly.

2) Set a Flexible Writing Schedule - Before, if I was on a roll with a manuscript, I wouldn't let up until the momentum slowed down or I finished. Now my flexibility must be as durable and stretchable as elastic. This year I had a macro edit deadline on Highland Sanctuary due May 1st, the complete novella for Heart's Inheritance due June 1st, and the complete novella on New Garden's Hope due July 1st. Between Feb and March I wrote as much as possible on the first novella. In the middle of it, I received my macro edits. I had to stop writing the novella, switch gears to a different time period, setting, country, characters and plot and go full-swing in the other direction.

After I turned in my macro edits I went right back to finishing the novella. When I started working on the second novella, I received proof edits on the other one. These are due June 21st. I have one more chapter to write on this novella, then I'll set it to the side. Work on my proofs for the other novel and then go back to the novella and incorporate edits. See what I mean about flexibility? And yes, I still work a full-time job. 

3) Goals Must Be Set - Without my goals, I would lose sight of where I'm going, what I'm doing, and I'd probably lose myself in all the busy-ness of everything. I look at my work schedule, family time, other commitments and I cut what is possible. Hubby is now doing a lot of the house work and helping me with marketing and promotion. I know how many words I can realistically write each day. Based on my due date, I set a realistic word count goal for the week and I do my best to stick with it. I have short-term weekly goals, and long-term monthly goals. If I receive more edits or proofs from one of my editors, goals and priorities will shift as needed, thus the flexibility.

4) Plan, Plan, Plan - I'm a flexible planner. What I mean by this is I will set a plan, but it isn't the only plan. If the first plan falls through, I have Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D. It's the only way I can function. It's how I received my 4-year B.A. degree in only 3 short years. Even though I'm a planner, I'm well aware of life's little unexpected curve balls. Most of the time I'm prepared and can bounce back with one of my back-up plans. My hubby and everyone who knows me well, accuse me of analyzing everything. I can't help it.

Life is won inch-by-inch, by never giving up, and keeping my eyes on the light of God every step of the way.

Promotion must continue in spite of my full-time job and my writing and researching. Therefore, I set aside time each day for Twitter, Facebook, emails, and blogging. You will not catch me watching TV or playing games. I just don't have the time. I reserve all my down time for my family and much needed rest. It may seem like I'm not accomplishing much on social media and with blogging, but I'm moving inch-by-inch, and just like pennies, they all add up over time. 

For those of you waiting to be contracted and others who are already contracted and trying to navigate your way through, I hope this post gives you some ideas and encouragement. 

If you have other thoughts that would be helpful, please share.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Behold All Things Are New

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We may have a past, but we don't have to live in it. The things you've done, the hurts other people have caused you, all of that stuff can go. You are a NEW person in Christ. You've made it through to the other side. Learn what you can from it and move on. Let it go.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Managing the Personal Connection with Readers

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Sometimes writers feel overwhelmed as we try to respond to every comment on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, our Blogs, and other social media. In addition to these "public" forums we have private messages flowing through these platforms as well as emails from our websites and blogs. We don't want to neglect anyone or appear unapproachable, but we have to find a way to manage it at a level that is realistic without raising our stress levels.

Here are a few tips I've learned that might be helpful to you:

1) When responding to comments, group people together who may have left a similar comment where the same response would be appropriate to all of them. List their names if you want and then answer their question or thank them for what they've taken the time to say.

2) Reserve a more personal direct response for those questions or comments that may be more unique. 

3) It's okay to thank everyone on a thread with one comment. There have been times I've had as many as 30-40 comments on Facebook. I couldn't personally respond to all of them and when my birthday rolled around I had over 250 birthday wishes. I appreciate each and everyone, but it is impossible for me to respond on a personal level, and I think readers and friends realize that. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to do this. 

4) Feel free to use the "Like" button on FB. It's a wonderful feature! That way people know you saw their comment, took note of it, and you like it. You don't have to stop and comment back on every comment unless you want to and have time to do this.

5) If you want to take your time and really respond to an email on a personal level, send them a quick email letting them know you got their email, but you want to respond in-depth when you have more time. That way they aren't left wondering if you got it or it went into spam, if you're going to respond, etc. I do this with prayer requests in particular. Sometimes I need time to think about the prayer request and pray about it before I respond. I want to make sure I get direction from God on what I'm going to say or what Scripture He might want me to share. 

Personal Book Signings, Workshops and Conferences
If you'd really like to connect with an author whether you're a reader or a fellow author, if that individual is making an effort to be anywhere near your town, this is the perfect opportunity to connect with them on a personal level. There is still value in face-to-face relationships. It may take a little extra time out of both your schedules, and some gas money in driving, but you never know what God might have in store for you both. I've made some awesome friends with readers and other authors that I would have never felt that same connection through online Social Media. You can't put a price tag on those friendships.

What are some ways you're managing you're growing online platform? And please, share some of your personal face-to-face connections as well.