Christian fiction, Wednesday Writings, What I've Learned Lately, Writing life

What I’ve learned lately … with Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I was added to an online critique group soon after joining American Christian Fiction Writers a few years ago. Jennifer Hudson Taylor was part of that group, and taught me so much by her comments! She’s now a published novelist with Abingdon Press; her debut novel, Highland Blessings, was released in 2010 and her follow-up, Highland Sanctuary, releases this month. We’ll finally meet in person when she joins the faculty at our local writers’ group conference in November. In the meantime, I’m she’s able to stop by to share with us here today.


Micro Progress is Still Progress

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor


How many times have you heard someone say, “I take two steps forward, and one step back.”

This cliché was born out of frustration. Most of the time we feel like we’re being pushed back. It isn’t a step we’re actually taking with purpose. It’s unplanned and it breeds discouragement.

The good news is even if you feel like you’re back where you started, most of the time you’ve learned something in the process or God may be protecting you from being in a place at the wrong time. There is a reason for everything—even when we can’t see it.

Recently, our family has been going through many things. My father-in-law passed away from cancer a month ago and at the same time my mom was battling a different kind of cancer. We knew he wouldn’t make it, but were assured hers was caught in time. Cancer is a kind of illness that takes a while to overcome or succumb. It not only wears out the ones battling it, but the loved ones trying to surround their loved one with strong support.

I was frustrated that I couldn’t take time off from work for every visit to be with my mom and help her make decisions. I had to rely on the info she relayed to me, hoping she had heard correctly and wasn’t forgetting something important in the midst of her distress. Yes, I may be a published author, but I still have a full-time job with a boss who owns my time during those 40 hours each week. My time is not my own, and I struggle with this concept—especially when I feel like I’m needed elsewhere.

During this time I had to let go of some things such as canceling a trip to a writer’s conference where I was scheduled to present three workshops, took a sabbatical from some blogs, stopped scheduling events and book signings for my new book release. These were temporary setbacks, but my family was much more important. The only thing that nagged me was falling behind on my word count each week because I had signed a contract that I would finish a book by a certain time, and I was already stretching myself to meet this contract obligation in my already limited schedule.

I’ve always been taught to meet my obligations no matter what it takes, so a bit of anxiety began to set in when my word count dropped until there were a few days with no word count. But I didn’t give up, and kept plugging away at what I COULD do. Guess what? By the end of September, I’d written 20,000 words—more than I’d planned by 8,000 words.

I can’t explain it, but what I learned is that if we are faithful in the small things, God will multiply our efforts. Pennies saved can become hundreds saved if we keep adding to it. We have to keep sowing seeds, and let God give the increase.


“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)


Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publishing, an e-publishing/publicist company. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.


Writer's resources

Resource: Pitch & Promote E-book

Welcome to the first post in a new category for my blog — Writer’s Resources. Anyone who tries to write (and wants to do it well) knows you need to keep learning in order to improve and keep taking steps toward publication. Many writers have already helped me tremendously by sharing their knowledge, so I want to do the same for those of you who stop by for a visit. Some resources will be tips I write myself; others will be from various authors, editors, agents, or websites. And, of course, I’ll be sure to give credit where credit’s due.

One of the newest resources I’ve been fortunate enough to read is an e-book by agent Terry Burns of Hartline Literary. Terry taught ACFW‘s online class in April and shared more insights with us than I’ve had time to process. The class was called “Too Shy to Pitch and Promote” and covered topics such as:

  • Creating a ‘writing/conference persona’ to help conquer your nerves
  • Writing a successful 1-line elevator pitch and then extending it to a couple of sentences to introduce your pitch session with an editor or agent
  • Pieces and parts of a one sheet
  • Components of a book proposal (including details about what should go into each section)

The lessons in themselves were a gold mine but then Terry spent oodles of time responding personally to ideas we bounced around and any related questions that cropped up along the way. And here’s the best part — he compiled his lessons, some of our comments, and answers to a lot of our extra questions in an e-book! You can get it through his website as an e-book download (in PDF format) or on a CD. The e-book is $5 and the CD is $8.50 (which includes S/H) . It’s a steal of a deal, especially considering the wealth of information. Be sure to hop over to Terry’s website and check it out — click on the Bookstore link up top and you’ll see the info under the course’s new name, “Pitch and Promote Like a Pro.”

I’m a long way from officially pitching my novel, but know I’ll be much more prepared when that day comes, thanks to this class. I’ve not had the chance to meet Terry, but hope that might change someday. After listening to several CDs of classes he’s taught at Write to Publish or ACFW conferences and then seeing him in action  with the online course, it’s easy to see that he knows the industry and does whatever he can to help clients succeed.

Thanks for a fantastic class, Terry, and for finding a way to help even more people benefit from your knowledge!