BOOK GIVEAWAY and INTERVIEW with Jennifer Hudson Taylor!
Please welcome Jennifer Hudson Taylor! She just published her debut novel that I absolutely recommend! I haven't read all of it yet, because I'm slow, but so far, I'm enthralled. If you like secular romance novels without all the sex, this is for you! I love romance, I love adventure, and what could be better than . . .
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.
Sound like fun? If you like that kind of adventure in your books, then leave a comment and you'll be entered to WIN a signed copy of Highland Blessings! If you also become a follower on my blog, I'll enter your name TWICE! If you're already a follower, then you have it made!
Now, for those that don't win, if you click on her book, it'll take you right to a place where you can buy it! But let's hope you win, right?
Allow me to introduce this talented author. Now, don't be shy, Jennifer. Come out from behind that tree. Isn't she cute? She kind of looks like the girl on her cover, doesn't she?
Jennifer Hudson Taylor is the author of historical and contemporary Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, will be released May 2010. Other works have 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.
If you click on Jennifer's photo, it'll take you directly to her website.
Jennifer, thank you so much for coming! How long have you been writing? What made you decide to become a writer?
By the time I was 12, I was an avid reader. I finished watching Gone with the Wind with my mom and decided I wanted to write the next Civil War bestseller. I started writing my first novel that year. I set it aside during my teenage years, but started working on it again after I married in my early twenties. I finished it and had the nerve to pitch it to a Berkley editor at my first Romance Writers National Conference in Dallas. Needless to say, that manuscript will stay on my computer.
Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day?
I work a full-time job and try very hard to be grateful when I’d rather be home writing. I’m up at 5am. This is when I have private devotions, get my exercise done twice a week, blog and update my Facebook and Twitter pages, and answer email. I have a long commute to and from work, which doesn’t bring me home until 6 or 6:30 in the evening. I greet my husband and daughter, manage some supper, and begin working on my writing or promoting my writing or research for my writing. By this time I’m very tired and weary. I write wherever and whenever I can squeeze it in—in the car on the way to family events, in the doctor’s office, in my bedroom, in my office upstairs, in restaurants on my lunch hour, on family vacations, I have even hid in my closet to keep from waking my hubby to write. A desperate writer will do whatever it takes. I covet your prayers for my sanity!
How'd you come up with this story?
From other secular historical romance novels set in Medieval Scotland. I had read them in the early 90’s. I wanted to write what I enjoyed reading. Highland Blessings started out in 1998 as a secular novel, Promised Betrayal. I converted it to Christian fiction in 2006.
What is your favorite scene in the whole book? If it's a reasonable length (not an entire chapter), feel free to post an excerpt.
There is a scene in the book where Bryce believes Akira is about to take off on his horse after he had kidnapped her. He calls to his horse who rises up on his hind legs and dumps Akira into a puddle of mud. The war is on after that. Here’s a brief excerpt:
She shoved his hands away, determined to dismount on her own. His edgy stallion pranced unsteadily. She turned and reached for the reins to steady his nervous horse.
“Ahern, rise!” he shouted. Without a moment’s hesitation the light gray stallion reared back on his hind legs. Bryce must have thought she was trying to escape.
Akira slid backward, landing with an unexpected slosh in the thick, red mud. She could feel the wetness quickly seeping through her wedding gown. Her hands sank at least two inches deep. She tried to stand, but her sodden gown drew her back down. Determined not to be bested, she propelled herself forward, only to lose her balance once more, this time falling forward on her hands and knees. The mud was so thick and slippery, she failed at every attempt.
She glared at Bryce. He couldn’t hide his amused grin. His men broke into laughter. Faces turned red, more jests were made, and laughter continued to ring throughout the forest. Bryce managed to stop laughing and bent toward her, extending his hand.
Her lips tightened into a thin line as she considered her options.
Bryce made another move toward her.
“Don’t ye dare touch me!”
She might be in an unfavorable position, but she wasn’t witless. Drained of energy for the moment, she sank back into the mud to assess the situation further, completely at the center of attention as Bryce’s men circled around her. Let the lot of them rot!
“Pray tell, what would ye do if I were to touch ye?” Bryce taunted, folding his muscled arms over his broad chest. His men shushed each other to hear her reply.
She smiled sweetly from her mud hole. “The same as ye would,” she answered, as if his question were silly.
“Lass, if ye would do as I would, ye wouldn’t be smiling at the moment.”
She didn’t take the bait, and her smile remained plastered across her face. “Ye belittle my intentions. Don’t think like a man, but have a wee wit about ye and think like a woman.” His men laughed. A few barbed comments reached her ears, but she ignored them, keeping her attention focused on Bryce.
Grinning with interest, Bryce took a step forward and bent. His eyes sparkled. “I believe a lass such as yerself would have the misfortune to imagine herself capable of pulling me down in the mud with her.”
Akira’s bravery never faltered. She lifted her chin a notch higher for emphasis and looked him straight in the eye. “And I believe a man such as yerself might overestimate his own ability.”
His men inched closer, as if straining to hear what Bryce would say next. They would have a while to wait. Before Bryce could come up with a fitting reply, a small fistful of red mud splattered across his face. It hit him so hard his head jerked back to the side.
Amazed at her own reflexes, Akira reached up and covered her mouth, unconsciously smearing a patch of mud on her face. She sat very still, waiting to die. Surely she had pushed him too far?
Fierce gray eyes scorched her. If it were possible, she would have run from him, but she couldn’t, so she thought hard to come up with a creative plan. Bryce lunged for her. She scrambled to her knees, pretending to cower before him, bending as low as she could.
Bryce hesitated, surprised by her actions. A second later, he no longer stood.
Akira had sensed his hesitation and chose that moment to lunge at his feet. She pulled and tugged on one of his legs until he came sliding down upon her. She twisted, grabbing two more fistfuls of mud. Knowing time was of the essence and that she might not live to gain any more favors, Akira shoved the mud into his face.
He sat up, trying to wipe the mud away, but his efforts were futile when his hands and every other inch of his body was covered in mud.
“Nay, I didn’t use brutal strength to pull ye in. I outwitted ye with yer own conceit, and if that hadn’t worked, my gown would surely weigh enough to pull us both in had ye tried to drag me out.”
Akira was so engrossed in her pleasure at having bested him in at least one thing that she did not yet realize she was now at his mercy.
“Is that so?”
“Aye, it is.” Her smile slowly faded with warranted concern.
“Well, I now have ye right where I want ye.”
“Aye,” she gulped, acknowledging the truth of his words. His dark eyes peered through his mud-soaked face, roaming over her equally mud-clad features. Her heart started beating rapidly, and she could not calm her racing pulse as he stared at her.
He reached down and smashed a handful of mud in her face. Laughing, he crawled away, watching as she sputtered and spit the gritty mud from her mouth. His men clapped and laughed. They were obviously pleased by his actions.
“Aye, she’s a spirited lass. She has a temper to match our Evan’s,” said a man above the other hearty voices. Akira had heard Bryce call him Kian during their ride.
Bryce glanced over at Akira still sitting in the mud beside him. He held out his hand to her in a gesture that suggested a momentary truce.
Akira hesitated. Should she trust him? If she didn’t, she might never get out of this mess. Deciding she could trust him in at least this one thing, Akira placed her hand in his.
He assisted her up. “Reach out to Balloch,” Bryce directed. She reached up and strong hands gripped her under the arms, lifting her out of the mud as if she were a small child.
Bryce followed suit on his own, but at a much slower pace.
She stood shivering in the cold rain, blinking as water rushed over her lashes and into her eyes. The rest of the pouring drops washed away some of the mud. Her gown hugged her figure, and she could only imagine the disgraceful sight she must be at the moment. Bryce stopped beside her, allowing his gaze to travel over her. She stiffened, knowing she was being scrutinized once again.
“I wonder if I look as sorry as ye?” Bryce raised a black eyebrow. He cleared his throat and wiped away a thick wad of mud that was about to drop from his ear.
“Aye, ye do,” Akira assured him.
Love it! So, what do you hope people will get out of reading your book? What's the "take home" factor?
Regardless of past wrongs and long-held grudges, God can mend any relationship, even clans of people—whole nations.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a sequel, Highland Sanctuary. It will be released in October 2011. It is set in 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.
Thank you so much for coming, Jennifer! I'm looking forward to that next book! We'll be keeping our eyes open for it. Thank you for letting us get to know you and for sharing your work with us.
So Readers, if you want to WIN a SIGNED copy of Highland Blessings, be sure to leave a comment. If you want your name put in twice, then become a follower of my blog. And if you're already a follower, then you're already in the drawing twice!