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, April 26, 2010

The Quiet Place for Writers

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Sometimes a writer needs a quiet room, a place without distractions, a place of comfort surrounded by inspiring things to bring out the motivational creativity lurking within them. So how is it that a writer can take a laptop to a busy cafe such as Starbucks, or some other public place that is loud and busy with people and get heaps of writing done? 

My answer to that is simple. More than the outside location and environment, a writer must find that quiet place inside himself or herself to initiate the creative muse within them and to be guided by the Holy Spirit to write what must be written. Now, getting oneself to this quiet place isn't always easy or simple. 

Writers often wrestle over guilt of not spending time with family, missing out on family events, fatique from other jobs, other responsibilities, etc. We need a healthy balance in our lives to find that quiet place inside us that allows us to do the best writing we can do. If we cannot find that quiet place, we will still force ourselves to write. We may scrape and scratch at the words as we dig them out of our hearts rather then allowing the words to pour from us when the writing muse hits, but we will keep writing because that is what we are born to do, conditioned, and trained to do just like any other profession. All the while we know that what we're writing will need to be heavily edited or rewritten--but on we go!

For a seasoned writer, I believe it is at these times that writers often make their worst mistakes. This is where loop holes are created in the storyline, characters may lack a dimension of development, a plot twist might be ignored that would greatly improve the sagging middle, an ending may be rushed and feel forced as if it's missing something. How does a great writer who has written some major best sellers, plop and fall flat in their delivery of a fourth or fifth novel? I believe this is how.

Just like anyone else, we can suffer burnout, grieve for loved ones we've lost, struggle with health issues, family issues, fight spiritual battles, etc. All these things can affect our writing muse, just as it might affect someone else's performance on their full-time job. 

Two things seem to be key to my inside quiet place where I tap into my writing muse: prayer and decent sleep. 

If either one of these two things wiggle out of balance for me, I lose that quiet place inside me.

What about you? What advice to you have for struggling writers trying to find their quiet place?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Author Interview - Roseanna White

I would like to welcome my friend and fellow author, Roseanna M. White. I've heard some great things about her new novel, A Stray Drop of Blood, categorized as biblical fiction. Roseanna has agreed to give away one copy from a random drawing of those who leave a comment with an email for contact purposes.

Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?

I'd have to say my favorite is one that will probably never see the light of day. Her name is Carman Kennedy, and she has been carefully hewn into the ultimate femme fatale. But deep inside lurks the desire to be something else, something unassociated with the man who took over her life when she was fifteen. Her story is one of falling as far as a woman possibly can, to finally be lifted up by love—of God, friends, and a man—when she thought she was all out of hope. Carman's story may not have a place in today's publishing world, but it has a special place in my heart. I set out to write it wanting to redeem an unredeemable character, and I love how she developed. I loved getting inside her head until I understood what made that kind of person tick—and what might bring them to a crashing halt.

What are you currently writing?

At the moment I'm toying with another Biblical fiction, though we'll see where it goes. It's a new spin on the familiar Esther story, using Herodotus's History for stories of Xerxes as much as the Biblical account. Putting the two together leaves a lot of holes and a lot of questions . . . all of which are answered by the existence of my heroine, Kasia, who is both Esther's childhood friend and Xerxes' favorite concubine.

Tell us about your latest book.

A Stray Drop of Blood is the story of Abigail, a Hebrew slave in a Roman house in Jerusalem.  Her master and mistress love her and raise her as a daughter, educating her in Greek and Roman texts as well as the Law of Moses, but when their son returns from Rome, he isn't inclined to view her as a sister. Through twists of fate that lead her into the darkness of bitterness and despair, Abigail's story is one of love growing in soil thought too hard for it and colliding with the power of forgiveness that soaks her along with a stray drop of Jesus' blood when she ends up at his crucifixion.

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

Ideas usually burst into my head and become fully formed within a day—at least the good ones, LOL. They also totally possess me during that phase, so if it's a historical that requires research, I'll sit down and undergo a blitz of looking-up-this and finding-out-that for the bare bones, then will generally jot it all down in a rambling sort of summary with lots of question marks and “or something”s peppered throughout. Then when I can actually write it, I'll do any more intense research that needs done. I can usually only stand so much non-fiction reading at a time—not to mention I can't do anything without interruption from my 4- and 2-year-olds, ha ha—so I'll write a bit as I'm researching. I usually have the first few chapters finished by the time my research is complete and my outline whole, so I can send that much off to my agent and critique partners for thoughts while I work on the rest.

Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts?

I'm mostly an as-you-go person.  I'll send chunks to my critters as I finish them so that I can integrate their critiques as I go and make sure my development answers their questions. After finishing my first draft, I'll then do another read-through, change anything that needs it (generally the first and last chapters) and then send it off to my agent. If she gives the thumbs-up, we submit. If she sees a problem, I do another go-through to fix it. But as true drafts go, it's really only 1 . . . or maybe 1.5. With lots of little tweaks as I go.

In your opinion, what is a writer’s greatest struggle?

Judging by my own story and those of my friends, I'd have to say it's bridging the gap between that vision we have of our books and what their place really is in the world. For a writer, it's generally all about the story, about putting it to paper. Yes, our dream is publication, but it's only something we pursue because we so love writing. But then once we're facing rejections, marketing, sales, and reader feedback, we're forced to separate ourselves from our stories a bit. We have to sell it, we have to accept bad opinions, we have to come to a place where we can trust the Lord that this story, whatever it may be, is doing His work even if we don't see how—even if that work is personal growth that doesn't end in publication or big sales. It's hard to turn our babies over, be it to God or to the publishers. It takes trust, and it's a hard thing to learn.

Thank you, Roseanna, for joining us!

You can find out more about Roseanna at:

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Issue of Sales Tax on Books

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Over the years I've seen posts on writing blogs regarding sales tax issues for writers. The issue is how one should pay sales tax if hosting a book signing at a church, community fairs, or places that aren't bookstores where the author must personally handle the transactions themselves. The problem for a writer is we are all from different states, we never know where we might be invited, or when we might get a chance to do a book signing. Each state has different laws. In fact, each county within each state may have different laws, at least that is the case here in North Carolina. 

Then there is the issue of website sales. How does one charge sales tax over the Internet when buyers can be from anywhere? It's a huge dilemma and one that I was recently faced in resolving. I'm getting requests for signed copies, but I needed to know how to handle this situation and stay in the good graces of the IRS and my local state. After all, my first priority in my writing career, is my readers. If they want a signed copy, and I'm not going to be anywhere near their area, or they can't make it if I am, I feel they should have a signed copy if they want one. The best way for me to provide that, is the option to purchase it directly from me through my website.

Therefore, I needed to arm myself with real information, so I made some phone calls to the NC Department of Revenue Service. I discovered some interesting facts that I wanted to share with you, whether you are selling books or some other product. 

Here's the deal for the federal IRS
You do not pay sales tax to the federal Internal Revenue Service. You only pay income tax on your earnings. This can be done once a year when most people file by April 15th for the previous year, or on a quarterly basis April 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and January 15th.

Here's the deal for local sales in your state

Here's what happens when a person makes a purchase at a large store like Barnes & Noble, Borders Books, or Books-A-Million, they are charged sales tax at the time of purchase regardless of where the customer lives. They have no idea where each customer is a resident. Plus, these store chains are operating in multiple states and are covering their expenses from every angle because their sales tax fees can range from hundreds of thousands to millions. Most are registered businesses to operate in multiple states where they have a local store.

Individual authors will not have those kind of sales volumes. If you choose to sell books at an event in your local state where you have to manage the money and sales yourself, you must pay sales tax on the revenues you make. Whether or not you choose to charge your customers sales tax is up to you. Either you pass on the sales tax fee to your customers or you eat the cost and pay the difference yourself. The choice is yours. 

Here's the deal for sales outside of your state
Most consumers are not aware of this, but according to the NC Department of Revenue service, the consumer is responsible for reporting purchases they make outside of their state to their state and paying sales tax to their state for those purchases they are bringing back home to their state. It isn't a problem if you are making small purchases at a store that has already charged you sales tax. 

If you are carrying your books to another state and holding a book signing, you may not have to charge or pay sales tax to that state, especially if your sales are under a certain dollar amount. Traditionally, you are not required to pay sales tax to a state you do not live in. This is why lots of fairs and festivals and Internet purchases may not charge you a sales tax for some purchases. If you are not registered to do business in that state, it will be hard for the state to prove how many books you sold at a fair or a local church. Of course, there is always the moral obligation of knowing how many you sold then getting the proper paperwork filled out and filed to pay the sales tax. Sometimes it is a "use tax" rather than a "sales tax". It varies, as do the laws, from state to state. Some states will require you to fill out a form for a one-time sales event in their state.

Some states have started passing individual laws based on the nexus factor of a physical presence within the state. In that case, you are physically there and may be liable for sales tax in that state--even for a one-time event. Do your homework carefully if you hold a book signing in another state, and you will be responsible for managing the funds yourself.

Here's the deal for Internet sales tax
You must pay local state sales tax for any consumer that buys from you who lives in your state. Also, you must pay a separate county sales tax for the county in which that consumer lives. This is traceable through the address to which you are mailing the product if you are ever audited. 

You do not have to pay a sales tax for out-of-state consumers. Once again, consumers are technically and legally responsible for untaxed purchases they make outside their state to their state. 

Selling products over a website or by catalog and shipping them to a state does not trigger a sales tax collection obligation because such activity does not constitute a physical presence. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that such activities do not create nexus in 1992 in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (504 U.S. 298).

My reflection and personal decision
Most consumers aren't even aware that they are responsible for reporting these out-of-state purchases, and I questioned this as there are lots of unpaid sales tax--especially over the Internet and at local fairs and festivities. I was informed that state governments are aware of this and are working on a solution. In the meantime, this is the way it is. So my advice is to pay attention to new laws as they are passed in regard to sales tax and do your research on book signings outside your state.

I would love to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of my books--even millions, but the reality is that I probably won't. Therefore, for the time being, I will not charge a sales tax  to my consumers at local events or through the Internet. I will simply pay the sales tax fees as they are likely to be minimal for the first few years. Most of my sales will be through chain books stores and online places such as Amazon. I felt it gave an unfair impression to NC residents who might want to purchase a signed book from me if they had to pay a sales tax and anyone outside of NC didn't--especially since most of them wouldn't (know to) report the sales tax to their own state.

If, however, I find that my sales volume is much higher than I anticipated through the Internet, I may change my decision based on affordability.