Jennifer Hudson Taylor writes historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest, and her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading. She resides with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte area of NC. Highland Blessings is her debut novel. Learn more about Jennifer at www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com.
When did you decide to be a writer?
I was 12 when I decided I wanted to write the next Gone with the Wind.
How long did you write before you sold your first book?
I wrote seriously for publication for 13 years before I received my first contract on my debut novel, Highland Blessings.
Everyone’s journey to publication is different. Now that you’ve walked that road, what tips can you give to authors still hoping for that first contract?
Never give up. If you keep working at it, learning, and being persistent, something is bound to happen for you. Things began changing for me when I switched from writing secular novels to Christian fiction. I felt God calling me to write for Him, but I was stubborn and wanted to write for me. Now I’m ashamed at how long it took me to make that decision for Him. I don’t think my road would have been quite as long if I hadn’t tried to be a Jonas.
Was there something about the experience of getting published that was a surprise to you?
Not really. I had been hanging around the industry and learning all I could about publication that I haven’t experienced many surprises.
Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
I have to be disciplined or I would never get anything done. My full-time job outside the home is a time consumer and an energy drainer, so discipline is a must for me. Plus, I struggle quite a bit not to complain. I think complaining is one of my weaknesses—although I’ve been praying about it and trying to do better. I’m a work in progress! :-)
What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
To my husband’s frustration, I love to watch historical movies, especially in the time period I’m writing about. He can’t understand how Pride & Prejudice still appeals to me after watching each version twenty times. I like to go for walks, ice skating, visit historical places.
What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?
This is a hard question because I have so many, but I would have to say, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.
How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
It inspires me. Sometimes God will speak to me through their work and give me hope for my work. I’ll think to myself, “I wish I could write like that.” It ignites that flame inside me to rise to the challenge and try to write better.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
Highland Blessings, 1473 Scotland ~ Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. . .Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.
Where did you get your inspiration for Highland Blessings?
From other secular historical romance novels set in Medieval Scotland. I had read them in the early 90’s. Highland Blessings started out in 1998 as a secular novel, Promised Betrayal. I converted it to Christian fiction in 2006.
Which character is most like you?
Akira MacKenzie has my Scots-Irish temper. She also has my compassion. I struggle not to cry when I see others cry. It doesn’t matter if I know them or not. If there is a problem, I want to solve it. She’s also loyal and dependable like me. My husband says I’m there when it really matters. I don’t fold or crumble. I pull on my boots, roll up my sleeves, and work to get through what must be done.
Who is your favorite character and why?
I think my favorite character is Serena Boyd, the heroine in the sequel, Highland Sanctuary. I modeled her after my daughter, Celina. My daughter was born with a life-threatening seizure disorder. She would stop breathing and require CPR. My husband performed CPR on her eight times during her first year of life. I’m so thankful for modern technology, the seizure meds she had, the fact that we understand it is a medical issue. I created a character in 1477 Scotland that has a seizure disorder in a time when the word seizure wasn’t widely used. Modern technology wasn’t available, and people’s reactions would have been much different.
Like my daughter, Serena isn’t a dominant personality. She’s quiet, serene, but strong in her faith. She’s a wonderful mystery to people, but she’d rather hide her gifts and talents than be exposed. She wants to please people and would rather go out of her way to keep peace, even if she isn’t comfortable in what she must do to maintain that peace. Yet, she has dreams and desires hidden deep in her heart, but she would sacrifice them for a loved one’s happiness.
Did you know how Highland Blessings would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
Not really, as I didn’t write it with an outline in mind. I created it as I went. Yes, several plot twists surprised me, especially the mystery part of it.
What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
Regardless of past wrongs and long-held grudges, God can mend any relationship, even clans of people—whole nations.
What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
Of all the social networking sites, I think Facebook is the most useful for building a community of friends and readers who share common interests with you and get to see more into an author’s life, than a static website. Second, I believe a blog is very helpful in finding blog readers who are interested in similar things. For instance, my blog targets readers of historical fiction, people who love history, historical trivia, etc. I’m also working on the traditional blog tours, mail outs to bookstores and churches, giving influencers ARC copies for reviews. I’ve purchased a couple of ads in newsletters, and I’m setting up book signings wherever possible.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
Highland Sanctuary, 1477 Caithness, Scotland ~ Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.
A Season of Atonement, 1808 England ~ Regina Westfall has run out of options and soon will be considered upon the shelf. When Marcus Silverstone returns from South Africa alive, Regina believes her prayers have been answered. But he’s no longer the humble, caring missionary she fell in love with years ago. Marcus believes her brother betrayed him in South Africa, and he wants revenge. She must discover who really betrayed Marcus and left him for dead before he ruins their future. She prays one season will be enough to slip through the thorns in his heart and convince him of her and God's love as atonement for seven years of injustice.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
I’d like to reiterate that if you really want to be published, don’t give up. Keep writing and praying to understand where your writing journey should lead. Everyone’s journey is different. Don’t compare yourself with others.
Jennifer is giving away a copy of her book, Highland Blessings. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!