This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

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.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Book Review - "Her Unlikely Family" by Missy Tippens

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Book Description
Take responsibility for his orphaned niece, yes. Raise her himself, no. A good boarding school was what the girl needed, not an uncle who was never home. But then Michael Throckmorton's niece ran away. And the big-hearted, beautiful diner waitress who'd taken her in wasn't letting her go so easily.

Josie Miller had a few conditions for Michael. Oddley enough, he was willing to listen. Yet days later, why wasn't he hauling the teen back to school and himself back to the city? Could it be that an unlikely family was forming?

My Review
This was Missy's debut novel and I loved it! The opening line pulls you in right away (see my previous post on Great Beginnings). The characters are distinct and grab you from the start. The situation of these characters has the right amount of emotion to move you as you come to care about the people in this story. In fact, I don't want to call them characters. I want to call them people. The conflict is believable and real. Families deal with these kind of stresses all the time. While Michael has a business background like most men, he is definitely teachable and willing to change. The transformation that takes place in him and Josie is gradual, and perfect. It isn't rushed and Missy brings it about in a way that makes it seem natural.

I won't spoil the ending, but I will say I loved it that Josie had pink hair and Lisa had green hair. And when I discovered the reason for Josie's pink hair, that made it all the more engaging. I'm looking forward to reading more from Missy Tippens.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Writing Great Beginnings

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor 

What Makes a Great Beginning?An opening line that grips you so that you have to keep reading and lures you into turning the pages, otherwise known as a hook.
The First SentenceThe first line must be compelling, riveting, and gripping. Think of the first sentence as bait. You want to reel your reader into your story until they are so wrapped up into the characters and plot that they don’t want to put it down.

Before readers can get to know the characters, they must keep reading through several pages. Your job as author is to start out with a hook and keep adding hook upon hook. You can do this by introducing obstacles to keep the issue from being solved, layer the plot with more angles, or bring a new character into the scene. The possibilities are endless. Don’t let your characters resolve their problems. Add enough burdens that it seems hopeless without a miracle. As you do this, make sure you stay within boundaries of what is believable and realistic. Of course, fantasies and superhero stories are exceptions.
How do You Grip Readers?Meet Readers’ ExpectationsEverything depends on the kind of book you’re writing. Your first few sentences will set the tone for the whole book. If you’re writing a humorous chick-lit contemporary, you wouldn’t have an opening line that sounds melodramatic using 18th century language.

Readers choose books by authors they’ve read before and the genre they like to read. Then they go by book covers and excerpts on the back or inside dust jackets. And finally, they flip to the first page and test a sample of your writing. The words you use as bait had better deliver to the reader’s expectations or your book is going right back on the shelf.

If a reader goes to the Western section and sees a rodeo cowboy on the front cover, he isn’t going to be happy to read about a medieval knight on the first page. He’s expecting to read an opening line that sounds like a cowboy. Which sentence do you think is more appropriate to a Western?

  • Jake high-tailed it back to the ranch, hoping he wasn’t too late.
  • Lord Jake instructed his carriage driver to hurry back to the estate before it was too late.
  • Appeal to EmotionsA romantic suspense reader is hoping to read a mixture of a suspense thriller and a love story. An author of this story might have an opening line of murder, a high-speed chase, a fearful night alone in the park—anything that would get the reader’s adrenaline flowing and create an air of mystery.

    A humorous story might start out with a character in some precarious predicament who keeps getting into foolhardy issues after another. This reader will want to chuckle and laugh until embarrassed for the fictitious character.

    The author who writes drama may open a scene filled with pain and heartache. It could be a funeral, a character watching a loved one pass away, a serious injury that will be forever life-altering, or perhaps a sad memory. This reader wants to be touched and moved by emotion.
  • Set the Tone
  • Action – Open with action for a fast-paced novel such as thrillers, suspense, and some contemporaries.
  • Dialogue – Use dialogue when a character has something to reveal or risk.
  • Description – Consider description when the setting is significant to the scene such as an eerie night, a historical to establish time and place, or a tranquil novel.
  • Introspection – Start out inside a character’s thoughts when you want to immediately reveal internal conflict, the mental state, and motives behind upcoming actions.
  • Establish CharacterizationEven if you will be writing in more than one point of view (POV) throughout the book, it’s best to begin in the character’s POV you will use most often and who has the most at stake in the scene. Readers typically identify with the first character as the main character of the book.

    When creating great beginnings, the best thing you can do is study the technique of authors whose writing you admire in the genre you’re writing. Then practice…practice…practice.

    Examples of Beginnings
    If there was one thing Josie Miller knew, it was the smell of a rich man. And whoever had just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox. (Her Unlikely Family, Missy Tippens)

    Larson Jennings had lived this moment a thousand times over, and it still sent a chill through him. (Rekindled, Tamera Alexander)

    Annabelle Grayson McCutchens stared at the dying man beside her and wished, as she had the day she married him, that she loved her husband more. (Revealed, Tamera Alexander)

    “Sure you wanna do this, Montgomery?” Fellow U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper Nolan Briggs asked above the engine hum. (A Soldier’s Promise, Cheryl Wyatt)

    “You always have to be a hero, don’t you?” It seemed unfair that, at the most inopportune of moments, Sarai Curtiss’s accusations could split Roman’s mind like lightning, cutting right to the fears that lurked in the darkest corners of his heart. (Sands of Time, Susan May Warren)

    “Saints above, girl. What are you doing here?” the shackled man hissed. (A Bride Most Begrudging, Deeanne Gist)

    Carol Burke would never forget the day Jonathon drove over her heart. At least, that’s what it felt like. (A Carol for Christmas, Robin Lee Hatcher)

    Charlisse bolted upright in bed, her heart pounding. The ship’s tiny cabin rocked back and forth. She grabbed the bedpost to keep from being tossed onto the floor. (The Redemption, M.L. Tyndall)

    The young mother bent over the crib rail, and her tear fell onto her sleeping son’s cheek. The scents of formula, baby powder, and newborn filled her nostrils. Pain seared her heart. (Reluctant Runaway, Jill Elizabeth Nelson)

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    It's a Historical Scavenger Hunt!

    Playing is easy. Get the list of clues at the Christian Review of Books . Then visit the links below to learn about the authors and their books—you’ll find the answers to the clues in the Q&A posted there! Once you have all 18 answers, send an email to to be entered to win:

    Six autographed books! A Whisper of Freedom by Tricia Goyer
    The Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen
    A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
    The Sovereign’s Daughter by Susan K. Downs & Susan May Warren
    The Rogue’s Redemption by Ruth Axtell Morren
    On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang

    Visit these sites for the clues!