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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Naming Characters in Fiction

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

One of the hardest things I've discovered about writing is creating the perfect characters. The wrong name could destroy the character's image. A simple name can remind someone of a particular person they've known or a celebrity that they may or may not like. Some names sound nerdy and dweeby, while others sound beautiful and handsome, and old or young.

Then you have to consider your characters' background. Where did they come from? What is their ethnicity? Culture? Religion? Family traditions? All these things play a part in naming our children, and thus, naming our characters. Your character doesn't have to like his/her name. Perhaps they go by a nickname, because they hate their real name. That would make them seem more real, possibly more likeable.

When I first started writing, I would go out of my way to pick a "unique" name that wasn't very common for my main characters. The reason I did this was because I didn't want people to identify the name with someone they already knew. I wanted to make sure my characters didn't "feel" out of sorts with my readers. The best way to do this was to create someone they hadn't heard of before. This didn't go over very well.

If a reader isn't sure how to pronounce a name, reading a book with a character name you can't identify with is quite annoying. It makes them wonder how the person's name is supposed to sound, rather than them concentrating on the story. People don't like being annoyed. Also, if your character is English, and you've given them a Scottish or French name without a reasonable explanation, it nags at readers. If that character has a parent or grandparent who is French or Scottish, then you can probably get away with it. You've given them an associated link. Otherwise, they are going to be annoyed. If you write historical, you can't use a name that wasn't yet in use before the time period you're writing in, and you will want to stick with a spelling variation that was widely used then, not now.

Most names have various spellings with a root word that can most likely be traced back to a country or language of origin. For example: Alice is a very common name that has as many as 70 spelling variations, some of which include: Alise, Alyce, Alyse, Elyse, Elise, Elyze, Alica, Alicia, Alisa, Alisia, Alyze, Alize, etc. While it has been used since medieval England, it's origin is traced back to French, but is also widely used in Dutch, German, Spanish, Czec, Slavic, etc. Because of it's common use throughout Europe and over a period of several centuries, you can't go wrong with this common name.

When I think of Alice, I think of Alice in the Wonderland or the maid on The Brady Bunch. It already has connotations connected to it in my mind. Yet, since it has more than one connection, I'm not bothered by another character being name Alice.

You might be thinking that common names are boring and too traditional. And I agree, but they do serve a purpose. How many Regencies can you name that use the plain name of "Jane"? Jane Austen herself, used Jane Bennett in Pride & Prejudice, Jane Fairfax and Jane Bates in Emma, and Jane Fraser in Mansfield Park. None of these characters lost their individuality due to their names, because "Jane" is easily identified with so many different characters. Concentrate on making your character shine through his/her personality rather than relying on a name to do that for them.

I also know lots of people named Jane in real life. When I think of "Jane", I'm not stuck on one individual like I am when I think of Scarlett. While there might be real people named Scarlett, I've never known one, and I've never read another book with a character by that name. If I were to read one, I'd be constantly thinking of Katie Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.

Recently, an editor asked me to change a character's name to something more traditional. I complied because I want my novel to be published, and I've learned that editors are in their position for a reason. They know their readers and what will connect with them. They know the market. I want to be flexible and enjoyable to work with. I'm willing to learn all that I can from them. One day I might have my own individual character that is attributed to my work, but Scarlett belongs to Margaret Mitchell and Gatsby belongs to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have to wait for my turn, the season that is meant for my work.

I found an online the Regency Name Generator that might be helpful to some of you at:

One resource I enjoy is The Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon from The Writer's Digest.

I'm interested in how you choose names for your characters, or your children if you aren't a writer. What names annoy you and why?

Friday, September 25, 2009

19th Century Baby Accessories

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

With all the neat accessories and toys we have for babies and small children today, it's hard to imagine what people were limited to back in the 19th century. When writing an historical novel our characters have to make do with what was available, and an author needs to know the difference.

The photo on the left is a white cotton bib with padding made around 1875. It has embroidery and a quilting-like design on the front. Many of these bibs were handmade by a loving mother, grandmother or aunt. Unlike today's snaps, it has a button with a loop on the edges to fasten it around the baby's neck.

The second photo to the l
eft is a baby's cap. It is dated around 1824. This particular bonnet has an embroidered design on sheer muslin with a net insert and was worn on a baby girl. Babies typically wore these caps all the time, even at night and under heavier bonnets. Some of these caps had a button on the front with a loop to fasten them around the front of the neck.

While some clothes were starting to be manufactured during the last half of the 1800's, many families still made the family's clothing, especially in the rural areas in both Europe and the US.

This last photo i
s of a young boy's jumper or romper dated around 1825. It is made of cotton with green double stripes. These outfits were used as a transition from a dress to a trousered suit. The sides and back of the pants button to the bodice to form a drop seat. There is also a slit opening in the front seam. The design is ideal for potty training.

Now, clothing for this age group has easy snaps all the way up the legs. We've got comfortable changing beds wherever we go. Can you imagine running a child to an outhouse each time he had to go, regardless of the weather? I can imagine snakes and spiders in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Author Interview - Tammy Barley

Please welcome Tammy Barley, author of Love's Rescue, to my blog. She and I share the same agent, Terry Burns, at Hartline Literary Agency. Tammy writes historical romance. I hope you enjoy the interview below and will read her book. I'm sure you will enjoy it.

Tammy has graciously agreed to give away one autographed copy of her book to one blessed individual who leaves a comment with an email address so we can contact you privately for your mailing address.

Describe your writing journey. How did you first get published?

Thank you so much for your kind invitation to visit your blog! I was one of those odd gals in high school who understood Shakespeare and his wacky humor. In college I absorbed every writing class offered—poetry, prose, fiction writing: the novel, nonverbal communication, journalism, and I even took acting to learn how to get into and develop character. I sold my first piece of writing, a play to Jesus Cares Ministries to help mentally disabled adults better understand God’s presence and love.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love photography, ballroom dancing, watching nature, gardening, and being mom to the three greatest blessings of my life.

Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?
Surprisingly, Ambrose, older brother of Jess, the heroine in Love’s Rescue. I chose most of my male character descriptions, and partly their personalities, based on actual black-and-white Civil War photos of men who fought, some who died, in the Civil War. A photo of one soldier, Isaac I. Stevens, gripped me in a "somewhere in time" way that I just couldn’t get out of my head. Sadly, the man died at Chantilly on September 1, 1862. He was only in his mid twenties, and yet there’s directness and intensity in his face that tell me he was prepared to fight for what was right, no matter what it cost him. By his expression, he may have sensed it would cost his life. He’s someone I would like to have known, and he’s someone whose life and sacrifice can now be remembered 150 years after he died, since though a romance novel and an interview, his memory lives on. So I loved making this man into Ambrose. I loved thinking of Ambrose as my own brother. That made writing his scenes and his character real to me and enjoyable. Ambrose’s character has touched others as well; a number of readers asked if I will be writing his story. I may.

What are you currently writing?
The Sierra Chronicles, Book Two: Hope's Promise. Here’s a blurb: Jake and Jessica Bennett learn there was more to her parents’ deaths than they knew, and both the ranch and Jessica are in danger. Now they must quickly find the murderer . . . and discover for themselves how far they will go for love.

What are you currently reading?
Maggie Rose by Whitaker House author buddy Sharlene MacLaren. Shar weaves great historical realism into sweet, endearing stories.

Where do you get ideas for stories?
My lifelong curiosity about historical events, and journals and diaries written by those who lived in those times and places. Ideas have also been inspired by places I’ve visited, plays I’ve seen (in particular, the one-man play I saw years ago at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada, called Ghosts of the Opera House). I love going to well-preserved historic sites that look exactly as they did 150 or more years ago. When I’m there, time travel almost seems possible. I love to write historical fiction since that’s as close as I can get to actually being there.

In your opinion, what is a writer’s greatest struggle?
Doubt. Doubt is one of Satan’s favorites that he likes to pull from his nasty little bag of tear-you-downables. I’ve come to realize that the stronger a writer’s doubt and the more obstacles Satan hurls in the way of success, the closer a writer is to touching lives for God’s kingdom. Unless the wise, trusted advisers you consult tell you you’re on the wrong path, I truly believe that adversity is a great sign that you’re solidly on the right path.

You can learn more about Tammy at:

And the Winner is:

Edwina Cowgill

Congratulations! I know you're going to enjoy Tammy's book!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Regency Peers of the Realm & Courtesy Titles

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

At the top of the Peers of the Realm is the Royal Family, the King and Queen and their extended family. The King is His Royal Highness, and likewise, the Queen is Her Royal Highness. Beneath the Royal Family and Archbishops are the Peers of England. In order of most important to least, the peerage includes: 1)Duke 2)Marquess 3)Earl 4)Viscount 5)Baron


During the Regency period the Dukedoms that existed were of Norfolk, Somerset, Richmond, Grafton, Beaufort, St. Albans, Leeds, Bedford, Devonshire, Marlborough, Rutland, Brandon, Manchester, Portland, Dorset, Newscastle, and Northumberland.

As a couple they are the Duke and Duchess of (Location).
Husband: The Duke of (Location) and addressed as: His Grace or Your Grace

Wife: The Duchess of (Location) and addressed as: Her Grace or Your Grace

Eldest Son: (Courtesy Title) Marquess

Other Sons: Lord (First Name) (Surname)

Daughters: Lady (First Name) (Surname)


As a couple they are Lord and Lady (Surname)
Wife: Marchioness, Lady (Husband's Title) and addressed as: Madam or Your Ladyship (not My Lady)
Eldest Son: Earl and addressed as: Lord (Surname) or My Lord
Other Sons: Lord (First Name) (Surname)
Daughters: Lady (First Name) (Surname)

As a couple they are Lord and Lady (Surname)
Wife: Countess, Lady (Husband's Title) and addressed as: Lady (Surname) or My Lady
Eldest Son: Viscount and addressed as: Lord (Surname) or My Lord

Other Sons: The Honorable (First Name) (Surname) and addressed as: Mr. (First Name)(Surname)

Daughters: Lady (First Name)(Surname)
As a couple they are Lord and Lady (Surname)

Wife: Viscountess, Lady (Husband's Title) and addressed as: Lady (Surname) or My Lady
Eldest Son: The Honorable (First Name)(Surname) and addressed as: Mr. (First Name) (Surname)
Other Sons: Mr. (First Name)(Surname)
Daughters: The Honorable (First Name)(Surname) and addressed as: Miss (First Name) (Surname)

As a couple they are Lord and Lady (Surname)
Wife: Baroness, Lady (Husband's Title) and addressed as: Lady (Surname) or My Lady
Eldest Son: The Honorable (First Name)(Surname) and addressed as: Mr. (First Name)(Surname)
Other Sons: The Honorable (First Name)(Surname) and addressed as: Mr. (First Name)(Surname)

Daughters: The Honorable (First Name)(Surname) and addressed as: Miss (First Name) (Surname)

There are many more rules and lots of exceptions for widows, those holding multiple titles, courtesy titles, and titles of one's own rank that would stay with a woman who marries a man with a lesser rank, and the distinction of when a regional title is different from the family surname. If you need additional research, I highly recommend this link:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grandfather Clocks

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Grandfather clocks are an excellent piece of furniture to use in an historical novel. People didn't have wrist watches back then and the grandfather clock was not only an elegant piece of furniture, but it chimed the hour to keep the household and servants aware of the passing of time. The chimes brought a certain ambiance to the the home and it's a hearing sensory you can use to describe your setting.

The clock in the first photo is c. 1725 from Charleston, SC. It is English baroque style made of red lacquer with ormolu mounts and brass inlay.

The first mechanical clocks were developed in the late 13th century, but they lacked dials and arms and consisted of heavy iron frames and gears. Most of these massive devices were hung in church towers where a bell was struck every hour. By the 15th century small domestic clocks were available and by the 1630's a lantern clock became available in upper class homes.

A breakthrough came in 1582 when Galileo Galilei discovered that a pendulum was an appropriate time keeper. Almost a century later in 1656, a Dutch scientist made the first pendulum clock. These clocks were called "wags-on-the-wall" as they literally hung on the wall. By 1670, William Clement developed an anchor for the wood case that allowed these clocks stand upright at 7-ft tall as a single piece of furniture with a long swinging pendulum, introducing the Floor Clock or Long Case Clock as they were known until the 1880's. It wasn't until later that these clocks were encased in glass to display the weights and pendulums.

Between 1630-1730, these clocks were only made for royal families and nobles as the cost of production was so high. By 1700, several colonies had their own clock makers constructing the Floor Clocks. Even so, due to the cost of craftmanship, a Floor Clock was only in households with means and became a symbol of status.

The Gran
dfather Clock was not known as a term until the 1880's when a song by Henry work, an American songwriter wrote and published a popular song entitled, "The Grandfather's Clock". The inspiration for his song came from a story of a family Floor Clock that stood in the lobby of a country inn, the George Hotel of Piercebridge, North Yorkshire, England. You can read the lyrics of the song here.

The second photo is a Gothic Tall-Case Timepiece, c. 1830 made of mahogany and white pine. It is a precision clock mercury pendulum with a silver face on brass with three separate dials for hours, minutes, and seconds.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Beltie Galloway Cows

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

If you write anything with a setting in Scotland, you might want to know about the Beltie Galloway Cows. (Cross-posted from my Carolina Scots-Irish Blog.)

I first heard of the Beltie Cow in Liz Curtis Higgs' book, My Heart's in the Lowlands. I was fascinated by the sketch in the book. Before I had even finished reading it, I noticed real Beltie Cows while driving home from Charleston, SC.
These cows are known to be from Scotland as Beltie Galloway Cows and have most recently earned the nickname of "Oreo Cows" in the US. They are typically black with a white belt around the middle. Some are brown with a white belt.

The white belt is a dominant trait in the herd and will often appear even if a Beltie Cow is crossbred with a different cow.
Their heritage allows them to survive in harsh climates having adapted to the poor upland pastures and windswept moorlands of Scotland, originating from Galloway. In 1997, western America suffered the "April Blizzard" resulting in great floods. As much as 21 feet of water resided in some places. While lots of animals, including horses and cows were lost, one breed withstood the flood, days without food, or rest from treading water--the Beltie Cows. Read the story here.

Their beef is exceptionally lean and flavorful. While most breeds of cows develop an extra layer of fat on their hide to protect them from the cold in winter, Beltie Cows grow an extra coat of hair rather than fat.

Here in North Carolina, you will find Beltie Cows at Fearrington Village, a quaint place settled on farmland dating back to 1770's in Chatham County, NC. This is an area of North Carolina that was surrounded by Scots-Irish immigrants and descendants for many generations. The small community is modeled after the villages of England. Fearrington Village offers a relaxing visit of dining, a beautiful country inn, shopping, historic gardens, and Beltie Cows.

For more information on Beltie Cows, visit the Belted Galloway Society of the United States.

The photos in this post are courtesy of Fearrington Village.