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, November 29, 2010

Contests for Pre-published Authors with Inspirational Categories

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I thought it would be beneficial to some of you if I shared a few upcoming contests for pre-published authors in 2011.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but you can find additional lists for writing contests on the Seekerville Blog, as well as Romance Writers of America's (RWA) Romance Writers Report. Another great source is Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide. All of these resources include contests for published and pre-published writers.

This list is in order of the deadline date to help you establish your calendar priorities. Specific deadline dates may not be known at this time, but only a general time frame. In this case, I've simply listed the month(s) of when the contest deadline is generally known to be. I've also included a link to the hosting writing organization so you can click right to their site for additional information on eligibility requirements, contest rules, and entry instructions.

Realizing the Dream Contest
Date TBA
Desert Rose RWA
$25 Members, $30 Non-members
Submit first 10 pages and 3-page synopsis
Electronic submissions accepted

Fool for Love Contest 
Mar/Apr 2011
Virginia Romance Writers
Submit first chapter up to 20 pages
$20 Members, $25 Non-members
Accepts electronic submissions

Merritt Contest

Feb 2011
San Antonio Romance Authors
$25 Members, $30 Non-members
Submit first chapter up to 20 pages, 5-page synopsis (unjudged)
Electronic submissions accepted

Genesis Contest (ACFW)
March 2011
American Christian Fiction Writers
$35 per entry
Submit first 15 pages, 1 single-spaced synopsis page
Electronic submissions accepted

Touched By Love (FHL)
April 2011
Faith, Hope & Love Chapter of RWA
$20 Members,$25 Non-members
Submit first 30 pages, 2-page sysnopsis (unjudged)
Electronic submissions accepted

Orange Rose Contest

April 2011
Orange Rose County Chapter
$25 Members, $35 Non-members
Submit first 55 pages
Electronic submissions accepted

Lone Star Writing Contest
May 2011
Northwest Houston Romance Writers
$20 Members, $25 Non-members
Submit first chapter up to 25 pages
Electronic submissions accepted

Tara Contest
May 2011
Tampa Area Romance Writers
$25 per entry
Submit first chapter up to 4,000 words
Electronic submissions accepted

Maggie Awards for Excellence for Published
June 2011
Georgia Romance Writers
$25 Members, $30 Non-members
Electronic submissions accepted

Finally A Bride Contest
Sept 2011
Oklahoma Romance Writers
Submit first chapter up to 30 pages
$25 Members, $30 Non-members
Accepts electronic submissions

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks for More Time

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

In October I posted this tribute to my father-in-law on his birthday on the F.A.I.T.H. Blog. Today I post it for another reason with slight modifications. Yesterday we found out he only has 3-6 months, but we know that God is able to give him more time, yet we must be thankful for the time we've had.

For the past couple of years we have spent the last weekend of October in the mountains with my father and mother-in-law. We celebrate my birthday on the 30th and Winston's birthday on the 31st. He's my father-in-law. The photo on the left is of him eating his favorite food--hotdogs--on his birthday in 2008. This year we didn't go on our mountain trip, where he is from, Bryson City, NC. You see, he's in a fight for his life. Instead, we and the rest of our extended family took him out to eat and we all shared in his special day when he turned 73.

Winston has survived pancreas cancer several years ago, lung cancer two years ago, and several blockages in his heart that forced them to do triple-heart by-pass surgery. For the past year he has lived with an heart aneurysm and now the lung cancer is back--stage 4. Through it all, he has stayed strong, his faith has never wavered, and he continues to serve so many others. In the photo to the right he is at Myrtle Beach marveling at the fish aquarium as my husband points out a shark to him.

I love this man! He is so kind-hearted--and I mean tenderhearted. I watched him cry and pray over my baby when she was born with her seizures and in the hospital for almost a month. Years later I've watched him look at her and wipe his eyes in awe of what she overcame. "My eyes are watering," he'd tell me. But I knew better. He was thanking God for her. Winston is stubborn, too. In the photo to the left, he is eating ice cream with my husband. He stubbornly sat through a great meal, refusing to eat any lunch at the beach and held out for a meal of coffee and ice cream--like a kid. We had to explain to my daughter that she had to eat a real meal. 

He is always at the hospital visiting other church members, still serves as a deacon, and goes on church trips inspiring others and spending time with them. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for my mother-in-law. Winston has never let his fight or his diagnosis change or alter his life. If someone in the family or church would offer him a beach trip tomorrow, I daresay, he'd pack up and take off. They were just there 2 months ago with church family. Yes, he thinks of his Christian brothers and sisters as family. Of course, we worried about him, but knew better than to try and stop him. In the photo to the right, my in-laws on Blowing Rock, NC.

In November he started radiation again. He had radiation almost every day for 3 weeks and then he became too sick to start chemo. He has decided not to have chemo. I keep reminding myself of all he's already overcome. In the photo to the left, Winston is at his favorite place--the beach.

My daughter is the youngest grandchild in the family. The rest of their grandchildren are grown and have children of their own with the exception of one. The rest of the children in the family are great-grandchildren. She is aware of Pawpaw's fight and she's been praying for him. In the photo to the right, my husband and his father at a mountain waterfall.

This year I am reflecting on the wonderful birthday parties he and I have shared over the years--all the great memories. I'm sharing a few of those photos with you this morning. I'm looking forward to new memories this Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2010.

Here we all are at the Biltmore Estate on the weekend of our birthdays in 2009. 

For those of you who have already prayed, thank you! We welcome your continued prayers and support.

Friday, November 19, 2010

19th Century Photo Process

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I've been told that the two images to the left are Daguerreotype photos. These two people are unknown, but the photos were passed down from Daniel T. Watkins line, a branch of the family that lived in the Winston-Salem area of NC.  

Old Salem, NC had its own photographer and developer when Traugott Leinbach bought his first set of photography equipment for as little as $125 from a traveling salesman in 1845. He began producing Daguerreotype photos. He opened a photography studio in 1854 and ran it until 1860 when his wife became ill. They moved to Pennsylvania, and his nephew, Henry Alexander Linebach took over. He changed the spelling of the family name.  

A Daguerreotype was developed by Louis Daguerre as the first publicly announced photo process. Heated mercury vapor is used to develop the plate from copper with a thin coating of silver rolled in that has been sensitized to light with iodine vapor. This creates silver iodide crystals on the silver surface of the plate. The image is actually created on the surface of the plate and looks similar to a mirror. These first prints were mounted in glass because the image could be rubbed off by the finger and would oxidize in the air. 

Often, Daguerreotype photos are mistaken for Tintype photos and vise versa. A Tintype is made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, laquering or enamelling and is used as a support for the photo. The process was first patented in the US in 1856 by Hamilton Smith. Tintype is also known as Melainotype and Ferrotype.

Tintypes were very popular as the process was simple enough for photographers to work outside at at fairs and carnivals since Tintypes didn't require drying. Instant photographs could be produced in only a few minutes after taking the photograph. The ability to buy an instant image as a memory appealed to many people.

The Difference Between Daguerreotype and Tintype
1) Daguerreotypes were produced for a limited amount of time, 1839-1860. Tintype production lasted longer, 1856 - early 1900s.
2) Tintypes were far more popular in America than daguerreotypes or unless your ancestors were in an area where a Daguerreotype photographer was known to exist, such as Salem, NC.
3) If the photograph can only be seen at certain angles, most likely, it is a Daguerreotype.
4) Daguerreotypes are more fragile while Tintypes are the more durable.
5) Daguerreotypes provide more detail than Tintypes and are considered to be higher quality.
6) Tintypes are made of lacquered iron in thin sheets and will attract to a magnet. Daguerreotypes are made of copper and will not attract to a magnet.

The image of the woman with the baby on her lap is a Tintype and I was able to attach it to a magnet. We believe the image is of my 3rd great-grandmother, Elizabeth "Betty" Gray Harris (1827-1903). The child on her lap was her youngest daughter, Jane Harris, born about 1868.

The last photo of a child sitting alone is a Tintype of my 2nd great-grandfather, Michael Clingman Harris. We know it is him since his name is carved on the back of the plate. It also attaches to a magnet. He was born in 1865. Knowing his age, as well as his mother and sister, we can safely determine that the photos were taken about 1869. They lived in Wilkes County, NC, and although they were within driving distance of Salem, NC, I do not know where these images were taken.

Winston-Salem Journal, Focus on Arts: John Christian Blum House Celebrates Printing and Photography in Old Salem

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Israel Suffered Slavery in Egypt

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

In the Old Testament of the book of Genesis, Jacob's son, Joseph, is sold into slavery by his brothers and raised up to be 2nd in command next to Pharoah in Egypt. The Israelites traveled to Egypt for food during a famine and ended up staying and living there. They prospered in wealth and population even more than the Egyptians. This means God must have blessed them, and He wouldn't have blessed them if He wasn't pleased with them.

Then in Exodus chapter one, the Bible says that Joseph and all his generation died. A new Egyptain king came to power who never knew Joseph. While an exact time isn't given, there must have been 3-4 generations. Due to the Israelites' prosperity, the Egyptians enslaved them because they feared the Israelites would grow to be more powerful and overtake the Egyptians in their own land. 

Exodus 12:40
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

Genesis 15:13
And he [God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed [descendants of his son Israel, ie Israelites] shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.

This is a very long time. In fact, it was many generations. What happened during those 400 years? Why does the Bible skip over this period of history? Based on the prophesy in Genesis to the fulfillment in Exodus, the Israelites were treated well for the first 30 years.

I've often wondered WHY God allowed this to happen to the Israelites since they were his chosen people. Some have ventured that it happened the way it did so God could show His mighty miracles and prove that He is God to Pharoah, all the land of Egypt, and to Israel. While I believe this to be true, God could have shown His mighty power whether they had been enslaved 30 years or 400. I believe there is more to it than that. God is a multi-dimensional God. When God does something, it is for multi-purposes. 

Could it have been a punishment or a consequence from a deed the Israelites committed? Granted, I'm speculating at this point, but I can't help wondering. Right after God had performed all those mighty miracles for Israel to bring them out of the bondage of slavery, they grew so bored and impatient that they created a golden image of a calf to worship while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments--on their behalf! 

It's hard to imagine them doing this if they hadn't done it before. Their allegiance to God was short-lived. Therefore, I'm thinking it's most likely they had been corrupted by the Egyptians' culture and false religion to the pagan gods. Moses' brother, Aaron, led them in this corruption rather than reminding them of what God had done for them. How could God answer the prayer of people who were not faithful to him? The moment things didn't go their way, they turned to idols. The Bible says that the Israelites were a stiff-necked people. One would think after so many years of slavery, they would be broken, soft-hearted, and thankful. Their behavior showed none of this, instead we read about continuous disobedience throughout their 40 years in the dessert. 

What are your thoughts? Why do you think the Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians for so many years? 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review - "The Choice" by Suzanne Woods Fisher

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This is the first Amish book I have finished reading from the beginning to the end. I tried an Amish novel a few years ago, but couldn't get passed chapter one. Therefore, my finishing it should say a lot about this novel. It grabbed my attention--the way it was written, the intriguing story plot, and the engaging characters. One of the things that surprised me about this book was the fact that it contained an element of suspense to a murder mystery. There was one plot twist I didn't see coming and I love it when a novel does that.

The heroine is Carrie Weaver, a grieving woman with a broken heart who is determined to care for her hemophiliac brother even if it means agreeing to an arranged marriage. The hero is released from prison, not a typical Amish hero either. There are a few criticisms on the number of deaths that took place in the first half of the book and Emma's decision at the end of the book, Carrie's step-sister. I think it is these unique circumstances that appealed to me as a reader. It's what kept me from laying this book down as I have other Amish fiction.

Deaths happen in real life, sometimes too many at once. Been there, experienced that. It changes you. It forces decisions--sometimes decisions we don't want to make. Carrie reacted no differently than she should have. I applaud her character. Also, I disagree with the reviewer who said Emma's decision wasn't realistic. Who are we to determine what is realistic in a person's life, especially a character of fiction? People we would never expect to marry certain individuals--do marry those we least expect. How many times have young couples chosen to go against their parents and their whole family to be with the one they love? It happens all the time. My parents did it. My mother didn't see her family for six years because of it--and it was completely out of my mother's character as she was always the responsible, level-headed one. Someone who believes Emma's decision is unrealistic--isn't being realistic.

The romance progresses at a steady pace. It's realistic and appropriate. I was invested in the characters and wanted to see them win. You see the characters struggle with their idea of faith--traditionalism versus a freedom available in Christ. The hero became a born again Christian while in prison, but he grew up Amish. He brings fresh ideas about faith to Carrie's life. If you enjoy Amish fiction with an element of suspense, I would encourage you to read The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher. It's a great book!

One thing I would like to say is this--even though I'm a fellow author, I do not know Suzanne Woods Fisher. We have never met nor conversed by email or on writing loops--that I can recall. I downloaded this novel on my Kindle and decided I wanted to give Amish fiction another try.

The Back Cover
With a vibrant, fresh style Suzanne Woods Fisher brings readers into the world of a young Amish woman torn between following the man she loves--or joining the community of faith that sustains her, even as she questions some of the decisions of her elders. Her choice begins a torrent of change for her and her family, including a marriage of convenience to silent Daniel Miller. Both bring broken hearts into their arrangement--and secrets that have been held too long. Filled with gentle romance, The Choice opens the world of the Amish--their strong communities, their simple life, and their willingness to put each other first. Combined with Fisher's exceptional gift for character development, this novel, the first in a series, is a welcome reminder that it is never too late to find your way back to God.

The Choice on Amazon

Monday, November 15, 2010

Contests for Published Authors with Inspirational Categories

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

It's that time of year when writing contests start ramping up. As I'm researching contests to enter my debut novel, Highland Blessings, I thought it might be beneficial to others if I shared the information I've gathered. 

In the past, I've always concentrated on unpublished contests, as I wasn't eligible to enter anything for published authors. This isn't an exhaustive list, but you can find additional lists for writing contests on the Seekerville Blog, as well as Romance Writers of America's (RWA) Romance Writers Report. Another great source is Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide. All of these resources include contests for published and unpublished writers.

However, if you write Christian fiction, it may be beneficial to have a list that only includes Inspirational categories as I have done here. I will attempt to include additional list for unpublished writers with Inspirational categories next week. 

Contests for Published Authors with Inspirational Categories
The list is in order of the deadline date to help you establish your calendar priorities. Specific deadline dates may not be known at this time, but only a general time frame. In this case, I've simply listed the month(s) of when the contest deadline is generally known to be. I've also included a link to the hosting writing organization so you can click right to their site for additional information on eligibility requirements, contest rules, and entry instructions.

National Readers' Choice Awards
Dec 1, 2011
Oklahoma Romance Writers
$25, plus $5 for Best First Book
Submit 5 books

Holt Medallion Awards
Dec/Jan 2011
Virginia Romance Writers
Submit 4 books

Golden Quill Award
Jan 10, 2011
Desert Rose RWA
Submit 5 copies

Write Touch Readers' Choice Awards
Jan 11, 2011
Wisconsin Romance Writers
Submit 3 copies

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
Jan 15, 2010
Southern Magic Romance Writers (Birmingham, AL)
Submit 3 books

Bookseller's Best Award
Jan 15, 2011
Greater Detroit Romance Writers
$27, plus $6 for Best First Book by Feb 20, 2011
Submit 4 copies
Winter Rose Contest
Jan 2011
Yellow Rose RWA
Submit 4 books

Carol Awards (ACFW)
Jan-March 2011
American Christian Fiction Writers
$35, an additional $35 for debut category
Submit 3 copies, 3 extra for debut category

Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards (FHL)
March 2011 $25
Faith, Hope & Love Chapter of RWA
Submit 4 books
Finalists 3 more books

Beacon Contest for Published Authors

March/April 2011
First Coast Romance Writers
Submit 3 books

Maggie Awards for Excellence for Published
May 2011
Georgia Romance Writers
Submit 4 copies

Laurel Wreath Award
Aug 2011
Volusia County Romance Writers
Submit 3 copies

Friday, November 12, 2010

Old Salem's First Printing Press

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The J. Blum House was built in 1815 and served as Salem's first printing press and bank. In 1827, John Christian Blum and his two sons brought a wood and metal hand-operated printing press from Philadelphia to Salem, NC. The Blums set up and prospered a viable printing business. Prior to the Blums' arrival, printing took place in Salisbury, Hilllsborough and Raleigh.

Printed materials include some newspapers, as well as documents for schools, churches and business in both English and German. The historical printing press is one of a few of its kind left in the US. Unlike the others printing presses that have been recovered and restored, the Blum Printing Press is still in its original location.

The Blums had to make their own paper and ink, set type by hand, manually operate their printing press, which required three people. One person had to ink the type, another pulled paper through, and a third to hang the freshly inked paper to dry. The display includes two ink balls, devices with thick wooden handles topped with circles of leather, which were used to apply ink to the type. Also, a type case or compartment holds metal type in various sizes and fonts with capital letters in the upper drawers and small letters in the lower drawers.

In 1828, Blum printed the first Blum's Farmer's and Planter's Almanac for 10 cents per copy. This Almanac is still printed today--a magnificent 182 year history.

Personal Visit

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day--And Thank You!

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day on November 11th, declaring,
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
 As with many things, one person will come up with a great idea, and years later another person will develop an even better idea to expand the original thought into something even more. In 1953, Alfred King, a shoe store owner in Kansas began a campaign to expand Armistice Day to not only include those who served in WWI, but ALL veterans. As a result, in 1954 Congress amended the Act to replace "Armistice" with "Veterans". November 11th has been known as Veterans Day ever since!

To all who now serve and have ever served our country, THANK YOU for making this nation a much better home of the land of free and brave. Your hard work and sacrifice is not in vain nor is it ever forgotten. May God bless you and your children a hundredfold!

To the Veterans in my Family Tree, THANK YOU for risking your life to travel to an unknown world, for building a new home in the wild wilderness, and for fighting to keep it and protect it. I appreciate your making this nation a republic for the people by the people--and one nation under God with individual liberty and justice for all!

Alexander Smith, Private-Continental Army, b. May 30, 1747 (my 6th great-grandfather)

Jesse Hudson, Private-War of 1812, b. abt. 1790 (my 4th great-grandfather)

George Washington Hudson, Confederate Army, b. 1846 (my 2nd great-grandfather) 
John Wesley Hudson, Confederate Army, b. 1836 (my 2nd great-grand-uncle)

John Wesley Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1825 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)
Willian Joseph Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1827 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)
Green Berry Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1830 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)
Winston Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1833 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)
Horsely P. Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1837 (my 3rd great-grandfather)
Hiram Smith Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1834 (my 3rd great-grandfather)
Andrew Jackson Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1845 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)
George Washington Watkins, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1845 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)

Thomas Gregory, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1839 (my 3rd great-grandfather)

Calvin Saferight, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1820 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)
Emsley Saferight, Confederate Army, b. abt. 1821 (my 3rd great-grand-uncle)

Peter Judson Hersely Watkins, Private-WWI, b. 1899 (my great-grandfather)
Bennie Thomas Hudson, Private-WWI, b. 1886 (my great-grandfather)

James Carlton Watkins, WWII, b. 1933 (my grand-uncle)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review - "Where Hearts are Free" by Golden Keyes Parsons

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

A story of honor, betrayal, pain and forgiveness--this novel brings you through several emotions that will sweep you away to early colonial America. While Phillipe Clavell tries to do what is right, his lack of action inadvertently causes the downfall of Bridget Barrington who desperately loves him. I like the way Bridget stands up to her family and goes after what she wants. When things don't turn out as she hopes, she doesn't give up, but she makes up her mind to make the best of her circumstances.

Due to his position as the family's indentured servant and their opposing religious denominations, Philippe must resist Bridget. He almost hid his feelings for Bridget too well.

Overall, Where Hearts Are Free is an enjoyable fast read with a sweet faith-based romance that blooms into true love. You get a real sense of how indentured servants were seen by society and treated. Yet, one can see the hope and fresh start these families experienced once their indentured service was over--a chance at the American dream to be free. The characters are memorable, the story realistic and moving, and the faith of the characters is inspiring. Where Hearts are Free is a wonderful conclusion to the Darkness into Light series.

Back Cover Description
Amid the liberty and promise of the new world, Bridget Barrington and Phillipe Clavell fall in love, but nothing about their love seems possible.

To pay for the Clavell family's passage from France, Philippe, a former member of French royalty, worked as an indentured slave to the Barringtons. Bridget is the heiress of the prominent plantation.

When Bridget's parents discover the budding romance between their daughter and their servant, they quickly orchestrate her engagement to an older, more advantageous match. But Edward Moorehead has a secret. And he's anything but a good match for Bridget.

Separated from her true love and in danger from her betrothed, Bridget must rely on God to deliver her from darkness into light. 

Visit the author's website: Golden Keyes Parsons 

By the book on Amazon: Where Hearts are Free

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Plea of Prayer & Support for Sandi Rog

Sandi Rog is a dear writing friend of mine whose debut novel, The Master's Wall, just released. Imagine how it must feel to work so hard for so many years, dreaming of your first published book, and on the VERY day your book is released, you receive the news that you have aggressive brain cancer--Type A Lymphoma.This is what happened to Sandi Rog just last week on Monday, November 1, 2010.

We are rallying behind Sandi, uplifting her with prayers and support. Her publisher, DeWard Publishing Company, has established a campaign for her first novel, hoping to raise funds to help Sandi and her family with some of their medical bills and expenses that will most likely extend into the holiday season. She has 4 children and a very worried husband with so much now on his shoulders. 

DeWard is a small press, but they are committing to donating an additional $1 for every purchased book above and beyond Sandi's contracted royalties. This Fund will be set up in such a way that people can also donate as they feel led beyond the purchase of books. As soon as I have more information on where and how to donate to this fund, I'll post an update.
As most people know, these days authors carry the burden of promoting and marketing their novels as they are released. Sandi cannot do this as she is in the hospital fighting for her life. Several of us in the writing community are hoping to help her promote her novel and assist her publisher with this campaign.  

Please...pray for Sandi and her family, buy a copy of her book, consider a buying extra copies as Christmas gifts for your friends and family. If you have a website, blog, or an account on Facebook, Twitter or some other Social Network, considering sharing Sandi's story with your circle of influence. 

The Master's Wall
He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other.

After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master’s granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.

A note from me, Jennifer 
I've already started reading The Master's Wall, and it grips you from the beginning. I haven't had the pleasure of finishing it, but from what I've read, Sandi Rog is a VERY talented author, and I can't wait to finish this book. I'll be writing a full review when I do complete it. 

In the meantime, here are a few places where you can purchase The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog:

DeWard Publishing - Direct from Sandi's publisher.

Amazon - Print Edition

Amazon - Kindle Edition

Barnes & Noble - Print Edition


Friday, November 05, 2010

Old Salem - A Colonial Moravian Village

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Old Salem is an historic district of Winston-Salem, NC. It was settled by a Moravian community in 1766 and intended as the central settlement of five other Moravian settlements consisting of Bethania, Bethabara, Friedberg, Friedland, and Hope. The community was governed by the Moravian Church, a Protestant denomination that began in 1457 in the kingdoms of Bohemia and Moravia, part of present-day Czech Republic. The photo to the right is of one of the churches in Old Salem.

The early Moravians were German-speaking individuals who followed John Hus, the Bohemian martyr who was burned at the stake in 1415. Moravians were persecuted in central Europe for several years and finally sought refuge on the estate of a Lutheran nobleman, Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf. Most people credit the first Moravian settlement to Bethlehem, PA, but it was actually in 1735 in Savannah, GA. When it became clear that the Moravians had irreconcilable differences with the local government, they moved to Bethlehem, PA and established a new settlement in 1742. It wasn't until 1753 that the Moravians purchased the Wachovia tract of land from Lord Granville in NC and first settled Bethabara. The home in the photo to the left is of the church bishop's home.

Old Salem was called "Salem" at this time and the land was owned by the Moravian Church. They leased the land to members of the church. Everyone in the community had to belong to the church and could be expelled from the town if they didn't follow the church rules. For instance, all girls and boys were expected to leave their parents home at the age of 14. The girls moved into the the Single Sisters Home and the Men moved into the Single Brothers Home (photo to right). Even if they had the money to purchase their own home and land, they could not do so if they were not married.

The Moravian Cemetery looks very different from most cemeteries. All the stone markers look like white flat pillars made of square stones about 1-2" thick. Families are not buried together. In other words, a wife wasn't buried beside her husband or children. Instead, Moravians were buried in neat rows, all the men in a group together, the women in a group together, and the children in a group together. The photo to the left is of the Old Salem Cemetery in the distance. Notice all the white stones in rows.
Many of the buildings and homes of Old Salem have survived and been reconstructed as they were in the 18th and 19th centuries. The living museum hires skilled interpreters who dress as the Moravians did in these centuries and tell the stories of the life and work of Old Salem's tinsmiths, blacksmiths, cobblers, gunsmiths, bakers, and carpenters. You can see them making and baking their goods just as they did back then. You can buy their famous Moravian cookies, cakes and honey wheat breads, as well as shop in their historic stores for Moravian custom-made items and gifts.

Other village features include the Salem Tavern (photo on left) where George Washington spent two nights on May 31st and June 1st of 1791, while passing through NC.  You can also tour the Boys' School, Winkler Bakery, and several restored homes, some which are private residences, and shops. A couple of stores include T. Bagge Merchant and the Moravian Book and Gift Shop. You can also visit the beautiful St. Philip's Moravian Church complex. Salem College has a few buildings in the area. 

Old Salem - (the official site)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

By Default, Aging Builds Faith

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

The Bible says that a measure of faith is given to everyone. To me, this means we are born with that measure. Depending on our life's journey and the trials burdening us, some of us will need more faith than others. Some will grow their faith to great levels, others will simply hold what they have and let it grow dormant.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) 

As you are facing difficult challenges in your life, do you often feel as if you don't have enough faith? That you can't possibly handle anything more? Or you're going to fail your loved ones, yourself, and God?

We all face these doubts. It doesn't mean you don't have faith--or you don't have enough faith. What it means is that God is helping you stretch your faith--to grow and strengthen it. That's why it feels like you don't have enough, but God has already provided you enough faith for anything you will need to face. 

Think of faith as a scab on your knuckle. Right now you don't need that scab. There isn't a wound and so you don't see it. That doesn't mean your body lacks the ingredients to make a scab when you next cut yourself. Faith is like that in our spiritual body. It has the ingredients to make as much or as little as we need when the time comes. That's why the Bible says we have a measure of faith. God doesn't point out the exact measure. It's not only different for everyone, but different for each circumstance.

You may suffer a cut deep enough to leave a scar, but no matter how much it bleeds, a scab will still grow over it. The scab may feel tight, swollen, and awkward, but somehow you can move your knuckle to type, to write, to hold things--it is still moving and functioning, much like our faith when we are in the midst of a trial. When the scab is gone, even though we no longer see it, we know that if we are cut again, a scab will return. It's called experience.

Faith is our spiritual scab for heart hurts, emotional pain, and spiritual battles. We may not see or feel it when we don't need it, but when the time comes, it miraculously appears. We will keep putting one foot in front of the other and getting up each morning to new mercies. Scars from scabs are reminders of what we've been through--what we've overcome. It's a reminder of our deep well of faith--the never-ending well of Christ and His enduring word.

You may be thinking of the verse that says without faith it is impossible to please God. Don't take this verse out of context thinking you must be strong, powerful, willing to take on your circumstance all on your own. This verse is referring to the belief in Christ and who He is. 

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Lean into Him for strength. Just by not giving up, you are exercising your faith. Even if you have a few doubts, it doesn't mean you don't have enough faith. God gave you enough faith, because He has more than enough to fill your faith well with what you lack.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

A great example is Abraham and Sarah. Abraham is a biblical character known as a Godly man of faith because he was willing to sacrifice his son on an altar for God--a son he had waited years to have as God's promise. Did Abraham start out that way with all that faith? Of course not. In fact, when he was younger, he told his wife Sarah to tell Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, that she was his sister because she was so beautiful. He knew that Pharaoh would want Sarah for himself. A husband would be a problem and Abraham feared for his life. Instead of trusting God, he devised his own plan.

Faith comes by hearing the word of God, but it also comes by experience, which we gain as we age. Have you experienced the stretching of your faith? Feel free to share your story.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Review - "Grace in Thine Eyes" by Liz Curtis Higgs

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Book Description
Davina McKie is a bonny lass of seventeen, as clever as they come and a gifted musician. Unable to speak since childhood, she is doted on by her belligerent younger brothers, Will and Sandy, who vow to protect their silent sister. 

When the lads are forced to depart the glen, Jamie McKie plans to brighten his daughter's summer by escorting Davina to the Isle of Arran. Her cousins make her welcome at the manse, and the parish delights in hearing their talented fiddler.

But when she catches the eye of a handsome young Highlander on Midsummer Eve, sheltered Davina is unprepared for the shocking events that follow.

A timeless story of passion and revenge, of lost innocence and shattered dreams, Grace in Thine Eyes explores the sorrow of unspeakable shame and the gift of unmmeasurable grace. 

My Review
Swept away to 19th century Scotland with characters that seem like I know them, this story made me weep and reflect on life in many ways. The heroine, Davina McKie, experienced an accident in childhood that left her mute. She communicates with with people through gestures, expressions, and writing words in her sketchbook. She has two over-protective brothers who feel guilty for her accident.

When Davina is sent to the island of Arran to visit with distant family, she meets the rogue, Somerled McDonald, a wealthy heir. They share a love of music and an attraction that will forever change Davina's life. Without giving away story, I'll suffice it to say that Davina becomes a victim of the man she loves, a bitter betrayal by her brothers, the whole island, and the village of people where she had grown up--and all the while innocent. She forgives, grieves, forgives, grieves, and finally healing comes--and with it a new love begins.

This book is wonderful, historically accurate, with deep and heart-felt characters, a plot that is thick and ripe with conflict and realistic circumstances. You will really enjoy Grace in Thine Eyes.