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)

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


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#christianfiction

Description
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

#Christianfiction

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


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

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

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

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

Guestpost: An Author's Life Through a Spouse's Eyes 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 importantly...be 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.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Seeking a Christian or Secular Literary Agent?

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

When I first switched from secular fiction to Christian fiction, I wasn't sure what I wanted in an agent. In truth, I went from a secular agent to an agent that accepts both secular and Christian fiction to a Christian fiction agent. I've had three agents that ranged in all three categories. Now I know where I belong and what my niche is in the market, but you may not, and you might feel like you're swinging on a pendulum wondering where you'll land. Or perhaps you're like a flying leaf blowing where the wind blows.

Either way, it's okay. I feel confident that you'll end up where you're supposed to be--eventually. 

My advice is to think and pray about your writing. Are you called to write Christian fiction or fiction that may reach secular readers with an underlying message that they otherwise would never get because they would never pick up a book labeled as Christian fiction? This will determine your direction for not only your agent, but your editor, and how you'll market your books. 

It may be that you don't feel called or led to start a writing ministry, but you want to write as an offering to the Lord. My agent, Terry Burns, talks about this difference on his Testimony Page. I wanted to write secular romance fiction and ran when God called me to write for Him--just like Jonas. My journey took me a little longer because I was stubborn. I wanted to write for me.

If you're in limbo, unsure who to query or what to do next, I want to give you some food for thought. .A Christian agent will have more contacts and closer relationships with Christian publishers, but a select few with secular publishers and vise versa. One thing a Christian agent can provide that a secular agent may not is prayer and an understanding of your faith. Also, they may not give up as quick because they understand God's timing. 


My big New York agent thought I was going to be a fast and easy sale. When things didn't turn out that way, she wasn't so sure she wanted to invest the time in me. She accepted both Christian and secular writers, but her contacts with Christian editors and publishers were very limited. She only wanted to send my work out to a select few. When she had exhausted her contacts in the CBA market, she pushed me to switch back to secular fiction. 


I was being tested--offered what I had always wanted. It could have been a time of confusion. I could have seen this as a sign for crossing over into both the secular and CBA markets, but I saw it as a test. I knew what was happening. We agreed to disagree, and with a broken heart, I agreed to end our agreement. Once again I was agentless. Yet, I was determined to write for God or not at all. 


Don't think everything in this business is going to come with clear green and red lights. You will be tested. You will become confused. Your journey will take side roads because you'll have lessons to learn, and therefore, detours to take. You will come to deadends and you may have to make u-turns. Just keep going. Don't give up. 


Recently, I've talked to some CBA authors who are toying with the idea of moving from CBA to secular so they can reach more readers. Yes, they are thinking of changing agents in this process. Perhaps God is leading them in that direction, perhaps not, either way their path will become clear. 

Sometimes we go through seasons. We may be called to do something for a season, and then God will call us to move on and do something else in a new season. We must be open to the changing of His will and make sure it isn't our own. 


Other points of consideration are the limited options in CBA. There is a wider market in secular fiction than CBA. If you're in this for the money, there is a possibility of making more in the secular market simply because there are more readers, more publishers, more agents. But--there is also more competition. You'll be swimming in a bigger ocean with bigger fish and more sharks. I know--because this is where I started out.


If you're seeking a CBA agent, I recommend The Christian Writers’ Market Guide by Sally E. Stuart. 

If you're seeking a secular agent, I recommend, The Guide to Literary Agents.

Don't miss my post on The Agent Search, It's All About Faith

Monday, July 04, 2011

Thank You to our Heroes on July 4th!


By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Today we're celebrating our Independence, but few of us even know the names of the men who fought for our Independence outside of the famous General George Washington, and those who actually signed the Declaration of Independence. Many in this nation did not even come here until after the Revolutionary War.


I'd like to introduce Alexander Smith, Private in the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War, my 6th great-grandfather, on my mother's side of the family. I owe him a debt of gratitude. He not only made it possible in bringing our family to America, but he risked his life to make it possible that my family, as his descendants, would have a better life as free citizens of the United States of America.

It's nice to know that my family played such an important part of our nation's history. The writer in me can't help but wonder about the sacrifices my family must have made during this time as we celebrate the beginning of our nation. Having just returned from a visit to colonial Charleston, SC, the time is even more real to me.

I don't have a photo of Alexander Smith, but I do have a photo of his grandson, Reverand Alexander Smith Robbins (on the left), who was the brother to my 4th great-grandfather, Nathan Robbins. I have five generations of my Robbins family buried at Ebenezer United Methodist Church Cemetery, dating back before our country was even a nation.

Thank you to our ancestors, and forefathers, who had the courage to stand up, and fight for our freedom. God realizes our sinful nature on earth to take what isn't ours, to commit violence when greed and lust overcome our ability to reason. He knew that there would be times when peaceful people would have to defend themselves against wrong doing and invaders of their peaceful existence.

I believe that is why the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:...A time to love; a time to hate; A time of war, a time of peace."
Notice it says "under heaven". He knew our sinful nature. In this world we have to try and be more like Jesus. That's why the prayer that Jesus gave us in the New Testament says, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." If we could live on earth like we will in heaven, we wouldn't have so many problems. But we live here on earth, where many nonbelievers and believers commit bad crimes and/or hurtful sins. As believers we have to recognize this fact.

God will save us out of this world. He will not save us in this world. Because we are not of this world. "And he said to them, `You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.'" (John 8:23)

That is why there are Christian martyers who die for their faith. That is why pain, disease, debt, unhappiness, and sorrow exists. But God has given us His word, hope, faith, joy, and love to combat the evil with His goodness. But His goodness has to be received. When people reject Him, "seeing they do not see, hearing they do not hear" (Matthew 13:13), that's when war breaks out, killing takes place, and when He was crucified.

As long as we live on earth, we will have to endure such things, and we will have to decide what side we will be on. Because we still live here in the flesh, and our children, and our children's children will be affected. And like our ancestors, we will have to make decisions and sacrifices. But for those of us who are believers in Christ, we still have the assurance of our faith, a home that is not of this world.

Thank you God, for our country's independence. Please grant us the wisdom to keep it.