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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Point of View (POV)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wild Card Book Tour: "Summer Dream" by Martha Rogers


Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (June 7, 2011)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.


This is a new series by Martha Rogers.

“Summer Dream is a sweet, heartfelt, and well-written story about faith in action and a love that never fails. I can't wait to read the rest of this series.”—Andrea Boeshaar, author of Unexpected Love and Undaunted Faith

A Heart in Need of Redemption. An Unlikely Love. And a God Who Can Bring Them Together.

As the daughter of a small-town minister in Connecticut, Rachel Winston fears that the only way she’ll ever find a husband is to visit her aunt in Boston for the social season. But when Nathan Reed arrives in town, she can’t help but wonder if he could be the one.

Although attracted to Rachel, Nathan has no desire to become involved with a Christian after experiences with his own family. What’s more, until he resolves his anger with God and his family, he has no chance of courting her.

When Nathan is caught in a devastating blizzard and lies near death in the Winston home, Rachel and her mother give him a lesson in love and forgiveness that leads him back to his home in the South. Will he make peace with his family and return before Rachel chooses a path that takes her away from him?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616383607
ISBN-13: 978-1616383602


Briar Ridge, Connecticut, February 5, 1888

Why did Papa have to be so stubborn? Rachel Winston stared at the gray clouds outside her window and fought the urge to stomp her foot like a spoiled child. However, young women of twenty years must behave as befitting their age, as Mama so often reminded her. Perhaps she should have shown the letter to her mother first. Too late for that now; Papa would tell Mama as soon as he had the opportunity.

The back door closed with a thud, and Rachel shuddered. Papa had left for the church. His departing meant she needed to finish dressing or she’d be late, and then Papa would be even more upset with her. It wouldn’t do for the preacher’s family to be late for the services.

The paper in her pocket crackled when she moved toward the bed to retrieve her boots. Rachel fingered the crumpled edges of Aunt Mabel’s letter. There was no need to read it again, for she knew the words by heart. Her aunt’s invitation to come to Boston for an extended visit had arrived at a most inopportune time with the winter weather in the northern states at its worst. Even so, she shared the letter with Papa, hoping he might be agreeable to the visit.

A metallic taste soured her mouth, and she swallowed hard in an attempt to squelch it. Papa argued that the unpredictable weather of February made travel from Connecticut to Boston dangerous. If only one of the many Boston trains came to Briar Ridge. Aunt Mabel meant well, but her timing left something to be desired. Papa didn’t even want her going to Hartford or Manchester to board a train. It took over three hours by horseback to make the journey to Hartford—longer in bad weather.

She grasped the wrinkled letter in her hand and pulled it from its resting place. “Oh, Auntie, why did you wait until now to invite me for a visit?” she said to the letter, as if Aunt Mabel could hear her. “Last spring when I graduated from the academy would have been perfect, but you had to travel abroad.” A deep sigh filled her, then escaped in a long breath and a slump of her shoulders.

Aunt Mabel believed that a young woman should go to finishing school before she thought of marriage and had offered to pay for Rachel’s tuition. Papa had frowned on the idea, but her mother finally prevailed. For that, Rachel was most grateful, and she wouldn’t have traded those years at the academy for marriage to anyone. But now that she was twenty, she found that the pool of eligible bachelors in her area was slim to nonexistent.

Going to Boston would have provided the opportunity to meet more young men.

Rachel sat on the bed to ease off her slippers and bent over for the winter boots thatwould protect her feet from the slush. The frozen ground outdoors called for them, but they were not the choice she would have liked to wear to church this morning. Rachel shoved her feet down into the sturdy boots designed for warmth, not attractive appearance.

Of the eligible young men in Briar Ridge, only one came to mind, but then Daniel Monroe didn’t count. His sister had been Rachel’s best friend since Papa came to be pastor of the Briar Ridge church nearly seventeen years ago. Daniel treated her more like his sister anyway. Two years older, and just starting out as a lawyer, he was far more knowledgeable than she, and keeping up a conversation with him took more effort than she deemed it to be worth. Rachel had finished at the seminary with good marks, but Daniel’s conversation interests leaned more toward science and new inventions like electricity and the telephone than things of interest to her.
Rachel’s anger subsided as she pulled on the laces of her boots. As she reflected on her father, she remembered that he loved her and wanted only the best for her. He had promised that when spring came, he’d talk to her about the trip. Until then she would be the obedient daughter he wanted her to be and dream of the trip ahead. The Lord would give her patience, even though that was not one of her virtues.

She smoothed her skirt down over her hips and picked up the letter to place it on the table beside her bed. A response to Aunt Mabel would go out with tomorrow’s mail to express her regrets in not being able to accept the invitation. Papa would probably write to her as well, but Rachel wanted her aunt to know how much she appreciated the invitation.

If Seth were here now, he could give her good counsel. He’d always been the one she’d turned to when things didn’t go well with Mama and Papa. She loved her older brother and missed him, but he’d be home from the seminary in May, and she could talk with him then. Since he studied to be a minister like Papa, he’d most likely leave Briar Ridge if his ministry took him elsewhere after his graduation.

She’d met a few young men while at school, but the strict rules and regulations set forth at Bainbridge Academy for Young Women in Hartford had given her few opportunities to develop a relationship. Not that she would have considered any of them, but she would have appreciated the chance.
Mama called to her, and Rachel hurried to the front hall. She noted the firm set of Mama’s jaw and braced for the scolding that would be in order. “I’m sorry to take so long, Mama.” She grabbed her cloak from its hook.
“You know how your father hates for us to be late to church. It is unseemly for the minister’s family to be the last to arrive.” Mama turned and walked outside, her back ramrod straight.

Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. No time for a scolding now. She set a dark blue bonnet firmly over her hair and fastened the ties. She followed her mother out to the carriage, where the rest of the family waited. As usual, Papa had gone on ahead to open the church and stoke the two stoves to provide heat on this cold winter morning. Rachel climbed up beside her sister, Miriam, and reached for the blanket.

“What delayed you, Rachel? There’s no excuse for not being ready with everyone else.” Mama settled in her seat beside Noah, who had taken over his brother’s responsibilities until his own departure for college next fall.
“Time slipped away from me.” No need to tell her everything now. Rachel tucked a blanket around her legs and glanced at Miriam beside her. Miriam’s eyebrows lifted in question, but Rachel shook her head.

Micah piped up from the front seat. “Did you make Papa angry?”

“Micah! Of course not.” Rachel glanced at her brother Noah and noted the smirk on his face. She frowned to let him know she didn’t approve.
His gaze slid to her now. “Oh, then why did he stomp through the kitchen and ride off without a word to anybody?”

Mama clucked her tongue. “Now, children, it’s the Sabbath. Papa was late and in a hurry to get to the church.” But the look in Mama’s eyes promised she’d speak to Rachel about it later, especially after Mama learned the real reason for the tardiness.

Even though his decision disappointed her, Papa simply wanted to protect her from danger. She should be grateful for his love and concern, not angry because he said no. The promise of a trip to Boston when the weather improved would have to be enough to get her through the remainder of winter.

A recent snowfall still covered the frozen ground. Most of it in the streets had melted into a hodgepodge of brown and black slush caused by carriages and buggies winding their way toward the church. Rachel breathed deeply of the clean, fresh air that seemed to accompany snow in winter and rain in the spring.
If not for the inconveniences caused by ice and snow, she would love this time of year, even when the leafless branches of the trees cracked and creaked with a coating of ice. She gazed toward the gray skies that promised more snow before the day ended. If it would wait until later in the day, she might manage a visit with her best friend Abigail this afternoon.
However, a warm house, a cup of hot tea flavored with mint from Mama’s herb garden, and a good book might entice her to stay home on this cold, winter afternoon. Tomorrow would bring the chores of keeping the woodpile stocked and the laundry cleaned. She enjoyed the winter months, although this year she wished them to hurry by.

Miriam snuggled closer. Rachel smiled at her sister, who had recently turned thirteen. “I see you’re wearing your Christmas dress today. Is there a special occasion?”
Miriam’s cheeks turned a darker shade of red. “Um, not exactly.”

“Then what is it . . . exactly?”
Miriam tilted her head to one side and peered up at Rachel. She whispered, “Jimmy Turner.”
So her little sister had begun to notice boys. “Well now, I think he’s a handsome lad. Has he shown an interest in you?”

Miriam nodded and giggled. Rachel wrapped an arm around her sister as the buggy slowed to enter the churchyard. She stepped down onto the snow-covered ground muddied by all the wagons crossing over it. Now she was thankful for the thick stockings and shoes she wore to protect her toes. She then reached up for Micah while Miriam raced ahead.

The little boy pushed her hands away. “I can get down by myself.”

Rachel couldn’t resist the temptation to laugh. At seven, her younger brother expressed his independence and insisted on doing things for himself. He jumped with his feet square in a pile of snow and looked first at his feet then up to Rachel. She shook her head and grabbed his hand to go inside the building. How that little boy loved the snow. He’d be out in it all day if Mama would let him.

When she entered the foyer with Micah, she spotted Miriam already sitting in their pew with Jimmy Turner in the row behind her. Rachel hastened to sit down beside her sister. Miriam stared straight ahead but twisted her hands together in her lap.

When had Miriam grown up? Even now she showed signs of the beauty she would one day be. Thick, dark lashes framed her brown eyes, and her cheeks held a natural pink glow. Papa would really have to keep an eye out for his younger daughter.
Rachel glanced around the assembly room and once again admired the beauty of the old church built not long after the turn of the century. Instead of the quarry stone and masonry of the churches in Boston and even New Haven, Briar Ridge’s church walls were of white clapboard with large stained-glass windows along the sides. On bright days, sunlight streamed through them to create patterns of color across the congregation.

Brass light fixtures hung from the high vaulted ceilings, and the flames from the gaslights danced in the breeze as the back doors opened to admit worshippers. As much as she loved her church here in Briar Ridge, she remembered the electric lights she’d enjoyed in Hartford, one of the first cities to have its own generating plant. How long before electricity would become as widespread in Briar Ridge as it was in the larger cities? Probably awhile since Briar Ridge wasn’t known for its progress.
When the family first came to town, Rachel had been three years old, so this was the only home and church she could remember before leaving for school. Familiar faces met her everywhere she gazed. A nod and smile greeted each one as she searched for her friend Abigail and the Monroe family.
Unexpectedly a new face came into view a few rows back. A young man with the most incredible brown eyes stared back at her. Rachel’s breath caught in her throat, and the heat rose in her cheeks.

She felt her mother’s hand on her arm. “Turn around, Rachel. It’s not polite to stare.”
With her heart threatening to jump right out of her chest, Rachel tore her gaze away from the stranger seated with the Monroe family. Papa entered from the side door and stepped up to the pulpit. The service began with singing, but Rachel could barely make a sound. Everything in her wanted to turn and gaze again at the mysterious person with the Monroe family, but that behavior would be unseemly for the daughter of the minister.

However, her thoughts refused to obey and skipped to their own rhythm. Rachel decided that whoever he was, he must be a friend of Daniel’s because Abigail had never mentioned any man of interest in her own life. In a town like Briar Ridge, everyone knew everyone’s business. She hadn’t heard any talk of a guest from Daniel or her other friends yesterday.
A prickling sensation crept along her neck as though someone watched her. She blinked her eyes and willed herself to look at Papa and concentrate on his message. However, her mind filled with images of the young man. Who was this stranger who had come to Briar Ridge?

Nathan Reed contemplated the dark curls peeking from beneath the blue bonnet. When she had turned and their eyes met, his heart leaped. He had never expected to see such a beauty in a town like Briar Ridge. His friend Daniel’s sister was attractive, but nothing like this raven-haired girl with blue eyes.
When she turned her head back toward the front, he stared at her back as if to will her to turn his way again. When she didn’t, he turned his sights to gaze around the church, so much like others he’d once attended. He wouldn’t be here this morning except out of politeness for the Monroe family. He’d arrived later than intended last evening and welcomed Mrs. Monroe’s offer to stay the night with them. The least he could do was attend the service today.

Nathan had no use for church or things of God. He believed God existed, but only for people who needed something or someone to lean on. God had forsaken the Reed family years ago, and Nathan had done quite well without any help these four years away from home.

He shook off thoughts of the past and concentrated once more on the blue bonnet several rows ahead. Perhaps Daniel would introduce him. She would be a nice diversion from the business he must attend to while in town. He blocked the words of the minister from his mind and concentrated on the girl’s back.
The little boy seated next to the young woman seemed restless, so she lifted him onto her lap. The child couldn’t be her son. She didn’t look old enough. Then the older woman next to them reached for the boy and settled him in her arms. In a few minutes the boy’s head nodded in sleep.
Nathan resisted the urge to pull his watch from his pocket and check the time. Surely the service would end soon. Potbellied stoves in the front and back of the church provided warmth, and the additional heat of so many bodies caused him to wish he had shed his coat. He fought the urge to nod off himself. Oh, to be like the young lad in his mother’s arms.
Finally the congregation rose, and the organ played the final hymn. It was none too soon for Nathan, for he had grown more uncomfortable by the minute. Long sermons only added to his distaste for affairs of the church. The singing ended and people began their exit, but he kept his eye on the girl in blue until the crowd blocked her from view.

He stayed behind the Monroe family, who stopped to greet the minister. Mrs. Monroe turned to Nathan. “Reverend Winston, this is Nathan Reed, our houseguest from Hartford this week and a friend of Daniel’s.”

The minister smiled in greeting and shook Nathan’s hand. “It’s very nice to have you in our services today, Mr. Reed. I hope you enjoy your stay in Briar Ridge and that we’ll see more of you.”

“Thank you, sir. I look forward to my visit here.” But the minister wouldn’t be seeing any more of him unless they possibly met in town.

When they reached the Monroe carriage, Nathan turned and spotted the girl coming down the steps. He watched as Daniel waved to the young woman and she waved back. Abigail ran to greet her, and the girls hurried over to where Nathan stood with Daniel. Abigail tucked her hand in the girl’s elbow.
“Nathan, this is my best friend, Rachel Winston. Rachel, this is Daniel’s former roommate in college, Nathan Reed.”

Rachel Winston? Nathan’s hopes dashed against the slushy ground on which he stood. Could she be the preacher’s daughter? He didn’t mind a young woman being Christian, but he drew the line at keeping company with one so close to the ministry.
When her blue eyes gazed into his, a spark of interest flamed, and it took him a few seconds before remembering his manners. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Winston.”
Her cheeks flushed red, and she glanced away slightly but still smiled. “Thank you. I’m pleased to meet you too, Mr. Reed. Perhaps we’ll see each other again if you’re in town long.”

Rachel’s smile sent a warmth into his heart that caused him to swallow hard. Although the length of his stay was uncertain, his desire to see the lovely Miss Winston again might just override his pledge to avoid anything or anyone with ties to the church.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Disable Google+ Instant Photo Upload on Android Phone

The other day I took a photo on my Verizon Android phone and was surprised to later discover it had automatically uploaded to my Google+ account. This wasn't one of those photos I wanted to release on the Internet.

I prefer the option of choosing which photos I upload, especially those of my family. I couldn't remember giving Google+ this permission and when I went online to find solutions, it wasn't clear if this had to be done from the phone or online at a computer.

For the record, you must disable this feature directly from your phone. Apparently, when you first download the Google+ app to your Android phone, they default this Instant Upload feature to enable. You will have to go in and manually disable it.

Below is a quick tutorial video on how to do this. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Word of Inspiration: Sometimes, It Isn't Yours to Own

In the Old Testament King David had a strong desire to build a Holy Temple for God. He had the means, labor, and talent. But God told him, No. He told David that his son, Solomon would build the temple, and he would be blessed and have a life of rest. Even though God chose and used David in battle to accomplish his purpose, God told David that he had too much blood on his hands to build a Holy Temple. It wasn't that God didn't love King David or didn't appreciate him, but He had plans for the next generation.

Sometimes we have dreams that are full of best intentions, but we just aren't born in the right generation or right time. We need to learn to recognize what is meant for us to accomplish and what isn't. For those of us who are natural-born leaders, driven with purpose, and attempting to accomplish all the goals on our bucket list--this realization is the hardest to accept.

You may be asking, so what do I do? 

My answer is simple: Help prepare the next generation for what we weren't able to do. God has great plans for them!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Shadowed in Silk" by Christine Lindsay


She was invisible to those who should have loved her. 

After the Great War, Abby Fraser returns to India with her small son, where her husband is stationed with the British army. She has longed to go home to the land of glittering palaces and veiled women . . . but Nick has become a cruel stranger. It will take more than her American pluck to survive. 

Major Geoff Richards, broken over the loss of so many of his men in the trenches of France, returns to his cavalry post in Amritsar. But his faith does little to help him understand the ruthlessness of his British peers toward the Indian people he loves. Nor does it explain how he is to protect Abby Fraser and her child from the husband who mistreats them. 

Amid political unrest, inhospitable deserts, and Russian spies, tensions rise in India as the people cry for the freedom espoused by Gandhi. Caught between their own ideals and duty, Geoff and Abby stumble into sinister secrets . . . secrets that will thrust them out of the shadows and straight into the fire of revolution. 

My Review
Shadowed in Silk is a touching story that brings forth the realities of abuse, racial and social injustice, while weaving a tale of forbidden love that shows God's forgiving grace and healing power. It has a unique setting in the country of India where culture and class systems are very different. I enjoyed learning about these differences in a time shortly after the turn of the century as the intriguing story unfolded. 

The author handles the situation of a Christian man falling in love with a married woman without violating any biblical principles. It shows how one may have feelings for another, but can overcome the challenge of that temptation without giving in to sin. The realities are real and the characters do have their flaws. In fact, the heroine is abused by her husband and feels betrayed by the hero when he doesn't show her any outward interest. He has plenty of interest, but does his best not to mislead her or himself. As a result, the heroine makes a very foolish decision that puts herself and her young son in life-threatening danger.

This is a fresh Christian fiction novel that is unique and I'm pleased to have endorsed it. This is Christine Lindsay's debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading many more from her.

Buy on Amazon.

Learn more about the author, here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Word of Inspiration: There Are Still Good People Around Us

"Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed; Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven." (Psalm 85: 10-11)

The phrase that stands out to me is Truth shall spring out of the earth. I confess, when I read this, my first thought was how can truth come from the earth when it is full of so much sin? We are born into sin. How can truth spring from the earth, where it originally comes from heaven?

But here's the good news, the Bible says in First John that God is Love. No matter how many wars, murder, pain, injustice, betrayal, illness, hate, and so forth occurs on this earth--throughout history--and to come--people still love. Nothing can destroy the love that is in us. Just when we think we can't love anymore, somehow a small flicker of light keeps burning--even long after loved ones are gone. 

Christ resides in us and He is Truth. We are made from dust and to dust we shall return, but when we rise to meet our Heavenly Father at the rapture, Truth will spring out of the earth as it does each time we show love, compassion, kindness, and give to others. There isn't a day that goes by without this love in spite of all the evil that may be surrounding us.

Because of the love of God that is in us, there are still good people around us. Remember this the next time someone hurts you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meet Author Michelle Griep & Discover her Latest Novel, UnderCurrent

Please welcome Author Michelle Griep, who has a wonderful sense of humor and a love for great medievals and sci-fi. Although we didn't know each other at the time, we both share a teen history of of preferring interesting tales over parties. As a mother of four, Michelle's days are quite busy. 

Michelle, Thank you for joining us. I know you have a new book out, please tell us about it.

Undercurrent by Michelle Griep
People go missing every day. Many meet with foul play, some leave the social grid by choice, but others are never accounted for. Such is the fate of successful linguistics professor Cassie Larson. She leads a life her undergrad students hope to attain, until she tumbles into the North Sea and is sucked into a swirling vortex…and a different century.

Alarik, son of a Viking chieftain, is blamed for a murder he didn’t commit—or did he? He can’t remember. On the run, saving a half-drowned foreign woman wasn’t in his plans.

Ragnar is a converted pagan shunned by many but determined to prove his Cousin Alarik’s innocence. He didn’t count on falling in love with Cassie or the deadly presence of evil that threatens his village in Alarik’s absence.

Only time will decide the outcome.

What are you currently reading?

I’m usually in the middle of 3 books at a time: one to review, one for enjoyment, and a classic. That being said, here’s what I’m reading….

Enjoyment: The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum.
Review: The Stone of Destiny by Jim Ware.
Classic: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of that may or may not be writing-related?
Homeschooling my 4 kids, and I’m soon to reach the finishing line. 3 down, 1 to go.

Where do you get ideas for stories?
Tidbits and snippets from other stories I’ve heard. The idea for UNDERCURRENT came from an old family story my mom told me about her mom, Clara Brekke. Sometime back in the early 1900’s, Clara’s father took her two-year-old sister and walked out the front door. Just like that. No bags packed. Not a word about where they were going or when they’d return. Nothing. No one ever heard from them again. As a result, I’ve always been curious about missing people. Assuming they’ve not met with foul play, where exactly do they go?

Favorite scripture and/or quote:

Psalm 121 (love the Living Bible translation best on this passage)
During a dark season in my life when everything slammed into me at once, pulverizing me to shards of glass, this chapter was my light and air.

What are some ways that readers of your books can help you as an author?

E-mail my publisher and tell them you love my writing. E-mail me and let me know what you liked and/or didn’t like (yes, believe it or not, telling the author about an issue you have with their writing makes the author grow). And e-mail my mom so she knows this isn’t a freaky phase I’m going through and people do actually read what I write.

Michelle, your last answer made me laugh! I know the feeling well...
Please take a moment to visit Michelle's website.

You can purchase her book on Amazon, here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tips on Snagging the Right Literary Agent

With the changes e-publishing is bringing to the market, many are wondering if they still need an agent. My answer to most writers is, yes, especially if you still want to be published by a traditional publisher. This post isn't about the debate of why you may or may not need an agent. It's about how to find a good, legit agent who will work well with YOU.

Before you go searching for an agent, you need to know the following:
1)What do you want from your agent? Is it someone who will negotiate your contracts? Do you expect your editor to help you polish or make suggested changes to your manuscripts? Is it someone who will guide you on your writing career beyond the first book contract? Or do you want someone who will help you promote your work? Agents have different work ethics and some see their role differently from others, so you need to have an understanding of what you expect and want.
2) What publishers are you targeting? Make sure the agents you target have sold to those particular publishers. How does your agent network with authors and publishers? Do they attend writing conferences? Are they on social media networks?

3) How accessible do you expect your agent to be? Are they accessible to you by email, phone, blogs? How important are these things to YOU personally? Don't think you can harass them with status updates each week, but you should feel comfortable contacting them once a month or when you have a particular issue or question.

4) What kind of reputation are you seeking in an agent? Do you expect an agent who has big name authors with all the big name publishers and the large advances in Publishers Weekly? Or are you more interested in an agent who is known to be well-trusted, who is loyal to midlist authors, and who works with new writers and gets them established?

5) What kind of personality are you more comfortable working with? This is something to consider in any project or job you do. Everyone has unique personalities and some of us get along better with some than others. Pray for wisdom and be willing to wait on the right agent at the right time. Just because one agent works well with your critique partner and best friend, doesn't mean that agent is going to work best with YOU. 

How does an author discover the personality and work ethic of an agent?

You can't make a determination about someone you've never met in person or have only spoken to on the phone or pitched a story to in 10-15 minutes. In fact, you need to have already done your homework on them before the in-person pitch or phone call.

1) Subscribe to Agent Blogs. More agents are blogging these days. Subscribe by email, on RSS reader or an e-reader and trying to read up on their blog posts each day or once a week, depending on what your schedule allows. Start by doing an online search for literary agents, make a list and visit their websites. Be sure to check out their Submission Guidelines. No need in following an agent who doesn't represent what you write. That is the first step in narrowing down your list.

2) Follow their Social Network Sites. If they are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads, follow them. You'll get a glimpse into their personality and preferences through their blog posts, but even more at how they react to other writers and wanna be writers who have questions. 

3) Follow an agent's authors. Sometimes an author will post the most recent sales their agent has made for them, some great things their agent is doing for them, or advice their agent may have given them. They may even post interviews and contests where their agent will participate in an effort to promote their book and client.

4) Attend writing conferences and workshops where agents are accepting pitches and giving workshops. We all have limited budgets and none of us can attend every writing conference we would like, but you might be able to afford one or two throughout the year. Narrow down your list of targeted agents and invest in a conference where he/she will be.

Submitting to Literary Agents
Once you've narrowed down your agent search to a handful of potential agents, it's time to begin working on your submission process. While this is another whole blog post, I'll list a few things to think about.

1) Don't send out a submission unless the book is complete and critiqued by a critique partner/group or another writer who's further along in their writing journey. For some reason, writers want to skip ahead in the process and send out proposals to publication as soon as they complete a book. They don't realize all the rewriting, edits, and polishing that is necessary before sending out a proposal. Believe me, your book will not be ready as you finish it. 

2) Follow the agent's submission guidelines. This is NOT an option. It isn't okay to do some of the things on their list and skip others. Do everything just the way they ask. If they only accept query letters. Send a query letter and nothing else. If they ask you to embed the manuscript in the email, do it. If they ask you to send it as a Word document as an attachment, do it. Don't do what YOU this is best or more convenient for YOU. The way you follow directions, is a good evaluation as to whether or not they will want to work with YOU or not. It's a partnership. You may be hiring the agent, but they can always reject you. It works both ways.  

3) Enter a few contests for feedback and recognition. If you enter a contest and final or win a category, be sure to include this in your query or cover letter. They do pay attention to certain contest winners and finalists. It gives you an edge over the slush pile. Plus, you might receive some great feedback that will open your eyes to help you make your manuscript even better before it goes to an editor. 

4) Build an online network. Building an online platform is critical, especially if an agent wants to sell YOU and your work to an editor. They need to know you have a network of people you can market your book to, as well as to know that you feel comfortable networking and promoting yourself. Books don't sell themselves just because they're published and these days publishers are spending fewer dollars on new and midlist authors. The burden of sales and promotion is mostly on the author. If you can prove you might be more marketable than an another author in the same genre, you may win the next publication slot. An agent knows this.

Let me know if this is helpful or if you have other ideas you can add.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tryon Palace--A Colonial Wonder

New Bern is the second oldest city in the state of NC dating back to 1710. It was founded by Baron de Graffenried from Bern, Switzerland. Of course, he named it after his beloved homeland. Bern means "bear" and as a result, you'll see images of bears all over the city on the lawns of many houses and outside many of the businesses. It gives the town a feeling of community, like everyone there is connected. 

New Bern is nestled about 30-40 minutes from Atlantic Beach and on the peninsula of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. It provides a beautiful scenic view. 

If you're looking for a great setting for a colonial story, this would make an excellent location. The town was very instrumental in history as it survived an Indian uprising in the early 18th century, was the capital of the British Province of NC, has over 150 buildings on the National Register Historic District, and has its own Governor's Palace, known as Tryon Palace.

Last spring I traveled to New Bern, NC for a book signing with authors, Michelle Buckman and Alice J. Weisler. We had a great time and while I was there, took a little tour of some of the historical sites. The photo above is of Tryon Palace. Governor William Tryon hired an architect from London to design and build the Georgian-style home and it was completed in 1770. The Tryon family only lived there for a year since he accepted the governorship of New York. Josiah Martin took his place as the second governor, but fled during the Revolutionary War in May of 1775. The Patriots took over the palace and made it their capitol. It served as the first place for our country's General Sessions. 

In 1791, the palace hosted a lively ball in honor of President George Washington. In 1798 fire destroyed the original building and it was reconstructed over the next 30 years.To the right is an image of the beautiful gardens around the main building that covers 16 acres. They have an outdoor privy, a side kitchen, stables, and a beautiful estate. 

Below is an image of the Neuse River from our hotel balcony. We didn't want to leave, and I'm thinking it would be a beautiful place to retire. A wonderful place to stir the imagination of an author....

Thursday, July 07, 2011

An Author's Life Through a Spouse's Eyes

Guest Post By Dwayne Taylor

So you want to be an author? Ready for the money, fame and glory? 

Well let me give you a reality check. 

You won't make tons of money. Fame is probably not going to happen. And glory only lasts for a moment. Once your book is read, readers head for the next great book that just came out, leaving a fading memory of your book now collecting dust on their bookshelf.

Being married to an author (Jennifer Hudson Taylor), I can tell you that there is a tremendous strain that it will put on your family and your life. You will need the complete support of every member in your household (yes, even the dog). Without family support, you will not have the time, energy, or presence of mind to do what an author has to do to be successful. 

My wife works a full-time job. She gets up at 5:30 am and leaves for work at 8 am, not returning home sometimes until 7 pm. So, writing time is early morning and late at night. Oh but wait, she has to make time for the family, too. Now the writing time window is even smaller. 

Then there is research, networking, promotion, marketing, building a platform for yourself and so on and so on.. So where does an author find the time to be a parent, spouse, or have any kind of social life? Well, they don't, unless they have that family support that I was speaking of. 

An author that works full-time needs a supporting family that is going to make the meals, clean the house, do the shopping, mow the lawn, care for the kids, be understanding, make sacrifices and most available to the author when the author has time to be available to the family or just needs the love of the family. 

When tons of rejections start rolling in and you feel like giving up, you're disappointed, and depressed, only the support of a loving family will be able to build the author's confidence back up to keep them motivated to continue on.

The family must look at publication from the perspective that this is not only the author's dream, but it is a family dream. It isn't always easy and there are many bumps along the way, especially if you have children. Children don't understand deadlines, thought processes, interruptions, or the fact that you're on a roll. When they want mom or dad, they want mom or dad right then and there. As a parent you want to be there for your children. So, this is where the author must learn to have patience, understanding, and the ability to turn on and off their creative thought process.

Fortunately, my wife is a master at this. How she squeezes in so much quality time for our daughter in such little available time, I'll never understand.

My advice for those up and coming authors is to sit down with your family and discuss what it will take to make this dream a reality. Decide if being an author is a career move, a hobby, or just a desire to have your name on a book cover. Then consider the consequences of making it happen. Make your family aware of the sacrifices each of you will have to make along the way. Understand that it will be a life change for the entire family. It takes years before you actually get published as it took my wife over 10 years. 

In the end, if you and your family are truly dedicated to making this dream happen, it can. You may be a one book wonder or you may be on your way to a successful career, but there is one thing I can guarantee. The first time you walk into a bookstore and see your book, it will not only be a rewarding experience for the author, but for the whole family, because in some way, they will feel that they had a part in making the dream become a reality.