Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jennifer Hudson Taylor ~ Guest Blogger

Jennifer Hudson Taylor has numerous articles published locally and nationally through such publications as Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Helper and The Military Trader. Jennifer co-authored a business book entitled, Ensuring Maximum Restaurant Profits: 365 Secrets Revealed through Atlantic Publishing Group. Most recently Jennifer's Scottish Medieval, Promised Blessings, and her first contemporary novel, By His Plan were finalists in the 2007 Genesis Contests, hosted by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Also, in the summer of 2007 she signed a literary contract with Agent Terry Burns at Hartline Literary Agency. He will be representing her fiction to prospective publishers.

It’s More Than a Contest
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger on Seekerville.

I started out writing romance in 1995 and submitted to agents before I entered contests, received critiques, or attended a writing conference. In fact, I didn't do any of the things I was supposed to do in the right order. I didn’t enter a writing contest until three years later in 1998, which was the RWA Golden Heart. After that humiliating experience I entered other RWA chapter contests.

Like most new writers I was creamed. The comments stung, hurt, and I cried. How would I ever achieve my dream of becoming a published author? I shied away from contests for a while. I was angry at myself, God, and whole publishing world. When my husband decided to start a business that spiraled my family into a difficult season, I stopped writing all together. What was the point? I wasn't getting anywhere and my family needed me.

I didn't write for three, long, grueling years (2003-2006). I changed a lot during those three years. I grew closer in my walk with God. One day a friend prayed that God would bring the desire to write for Him back into my heart. That's when it clicked. I had been writing for ME not HIM. I repented. I prayed. And God did indeed bring the desire to write back into my heart. But this time I would be writing for Him and that's when I discovered Christian fiction.

In 2006 I converted two manuscripts to Christian fiction and wrote two new manuscripts. Within a month of sending out queries, I had an agent representing me. I discovered ACFW and joined, but not in time to enter the Genesis. A year later my agent dumped me in March 2007. I was so depressed. After writing for over ten years, I started to wonder if I was wasting my time, taking money from my family for conferences, contest fees, writing group fees, not to mention the time I stole from my daughter after being at work all day to write in the evenings. I asked God for a sign. I NEEDED direction. Did he want me to keep writing?

A month later I received my sign. I had entered four manuscripts in the 2007 Genesis, my first time in this contest, and not one, but two finaled. I placed second in historical romance, and third in contemporary romance. I can't explain what a thrill this was for me! It was more than just a contest. To me, it was a sign from God. He wanted me to keep going and not give up. I now have a new agent, and an editor requested the complete from the Genesis.

While I had never done well with contests in the past, I knew why, I wasn't writing what I was supposed to be writing, and God was waiting for the right moment to inspire me when I needed it most. He knew where I would be at the end of my tenth writing year. I'm still praying and waiting for THE CALL. In the meantime I plan to enter more contests--especially the ones with editors I want to target. And I’ll keep writing.
President, Carolina Christian Writers


Tina M. Russo said...

Let's form the Veteran Writers Club.

I toast your courage and honesty.

It took me ten years to break into Woman's World with the same story that was rejected at first submission (different editor)

And, wow I just checked my records. I had the guts to send in my first subbed partial and full in 2002.

All in good time, eh? :)

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.

Janet Dean said...

Jennifer, I also wrote for the secular market. It took me a while to realize that's not where God wanted me. Like you, once I was in His will things changed dramatically. Hoping you'll soon receive The Call! Thanks for visiting Seekerville! I enjoyed reading your journey.

Mary Connealy said...

Congratulations on the TWO genesis finals. And in different categories too, that's great.

So are you writing more now? Coming up with more books as you wait for the molasses in winter process that goes into submitting to a publisher?
Don't just sit and chew your fingernails, girl. On to the next manuscript.
Thanks for being here today.

Mary Connealy said...

And one more thing, take note of the nifty WORKING links in Jennifer's post. I did that.
All by my self.
I am so proud. And yes, Tina explained to me how to do it about a month ago, but she used really BIG SCARY WORDS.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I like the sound of that - the Veteran Writers Club. Let's go for it!

A lot of Christian writers think of their writing as a ministry, but we tend to think that it isn't a ministry until that first book is in print and out on the bookstore shelves, that it's on the stories he can use. But God is showing me through my (long) journey to publication that our ministry is part of the journey in getting there. We are witness through the process not just after publication. This is why I feel compelled to share so much.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


Actually I'm writing more because I am starting to think of my writing as a career instead of just writing to be writing and hoping to get published. I'm using a strategy plan, I think.

In November I attended a writer's retreat with Camy Tang, Cheryl Wyatt, Missy Tippens, Lynette Eason, and Pammer. Through our brainstorming sessions, (and Camy's drilling it into me at the wee morning hours), it really hit home that I need an author brand. So I am writing new stories toward that goal, plus it helps that an editor asked me for a proposal that hits right on with my author branding plan. A little motivation never hurts! Camy and Cheryl, the fruits of your labor are starting to sprout. I've just revamped my website. That retreat was such a blessing from God. Those ladies are awesome!

Mary Connealy said...

I am so jealous of this famed Writer's Retreat. Camy, Cheryl and Missy just keep 'casually' mentioning it to us, using it as a bludgeon.
I'm not fooled. What they're really saying is, "Neener, neener, neener, we got to see each other adn none of YOU got invited to sit at the Cool Kids Table with us.
And now, you've joined them.
Well, FINE! But I almost got Julie killed in downtown Omaha traffic, so beat THAT for a bonding experience.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


Nope, can't beat that. Although, my husband thinks my driving is quite horrendous at times. I kind of have a led foot.

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, did Tina explain the link thing to you in BIG SCARY WORDS like: click on the little paper clip thingy??

Tina, you're so scary!! ;)

Jenn, thanks for being on the blog today! I was so touched by what you said about the journey being our ministry. It's the first time I've thought of it that way, and you're so right.


Mary Connealy said...

Yes, I believe Paper Clip Thingy might have been part of that, but I think that is NOT a paper clip, it's a chain LINK. C'mon.
Plus I've got the computer skills of an autistic chimp (no offense to people with autism who at least have an excuse...no offense to chimps either...oh what the heck, if chimps want to take offense, go ahead and see if I care!) so what good is 'thingy' gonna do me. She might as well have written Thingy in Farsi or...or Zulu or... pig latin.

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, I'm quaking. Chain LINK is even more scary!


Mary, you know we do love you even if you are severely technically challenged.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

A.:I am overwhelmingly impressed that Mary not only knows terms like Farsi and Zulu, she can spell them.

B. I'm totally in agreement with Mary about the 'neener, neener, neener Cool Kids Club' which makes us both jealous twits, but we're jealous twits that can meet in the middle, say, Janet's house come summer and NO WAY do Cheryl, Camy and Missy get invited.

Or Jennifer either, even if she DID guest post for us and did very nicely.

And you haven't lived until you've been in Indiana in the summertime. We'll get to laugh, think, brainstorm (let's plan how to undo Camy's brand and see what she does THEN......... Nya ah ah....)and do all those cool Indiana things that Indianans (Indianonians? Indianites? AmazoniIndianans??? No clue)do in the summer.



Janet, what do you people do in the summer? No football, no basketball.

Do you even have a summer?

Anyway, we'll work out the details later.

This is all okay with you, right, Janet?????


Ruthy (who really didn't want to get invited to their writers' weekend anyway. So there.)

Mary Connealy said...

Indiana has a big lake we could go swimming.......
No, that's Illinois.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Hey, Jennifer! You go, girl!

There are a million if's, but's and maybe's in this business. God gives me a sign just when I need it desperately. He is so faithful. He's the ultimate hero.

Jennifer AlLee said...

I did everything backwards, too. Even though I'd read tons of books on the writer's craft and subscribed to both The Writer and Writer's Digest since they were black & white non-glossies, I was still clueless. I had no idea that contests were such a great learning and growing opportunity. And I don't know why, but I thought if you won, you lost the rights to your manuscript, so I never entered.

Same goes for conferences. Clueless. I thought they were for professional, published writers. Yeesh!

All that changed last April when I joined ACFW. Now I've entered one contest and attended one conference. And I've learned more in the past 10 months than the previous 42 years of my life. And I've got so much more learning to do!

Thanks for sharing today, Jennifer!

Gina Welborn said...

B. I'm totally in agreement with Mary about the 'neener, neener, neener Cool Kids Club' which makes us both jealous twits, but we're jealous twits that can meet in the middle, say, Janet's house come summer and NO WAY do Cheryl, Camy and Missy get invited.

LOL. Too funny, Ruth-meister.

Yet on a serious note, it may be fun to be on the inside out (who wouldn't want to be on the inside?), but being on the outside looking in isn't pleasant...no matter how much we want to joke about jealousy.

I think it's easy to relish the close comraderie we have with a few fellow writers and forget that not everyone has a group like that.

Last February, my three of my CPs met me in Florida at another CP's house where we stayed for her chapter's conference. I think I got tipsy just watching them drink their glasses of wine, but that's not here nor there. Plus I had a cold and was in loopyland anyway. The bonding time we shared was even more awesome than the brainstorming time and conference sessions.

I treasure my CPs dearly even though they aren't inspy writers. Yet I also yearn to have a group of inspy chicks to bond with over chocolate and silly movies. And I don't think I'm the only one.

What I do realize that the path to a great crit group, to finding sister-writers in Christ, is a journey, not a lightswitch.

Contests are one stone in the path. Conferences another. A great group blog even another. But they all have one thing in common: time and effort. Not to mention an acceptance that THE group we may want to get into may not be THE group we find a place.

Just like you can't wait for an editor/agent to hunt you down and say, "Your writing is brilliant. I want to publish/represent you," you can't wait for those fabulous crit/brainstorming partners to hunt you down. You have to get out and interact. In time, relationships will build.

Of course, I'm a firm believer three's company, but more three is a party. Anyone have the chips 'cause I've got the cheese dip?

Mary Connealy said...

Gina, are you in an inspy critique group? Because Myra is the critique group coordinator for FHL and she's hook you up if you were a member.
And anyway, you hang around here, adn mostly write smarter stuff than any of the Seekers so we're you community.
And Cheryl, Missy and Camy can't come unless they want to.
Which is a long shot.

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, now. We weren't the ones in charge of the trip. We just knew the right people and got invited! LOL


Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Whew! Mention the word retreat around here, and my goodness, no telling what might happen - or fly!

You ladies have a great blog. I've enjoyed it today. Thank you for having me as a guest.

Camy Tang said...

Hey Jennifer, I'm glad that retreat was helpful to you. And we'd have invited the other Seekers to come except Pam couldn't bring her chickens and Mary and Ruthy probably had a couple weddings to plan.

Gina Welborn said...

Mary, thanks for asking. :-)

I rambled as I did not for my sake, but because I got to thinkin' about how some seeker-posters might feel left out by the "group" talk.

I absolutely love my crit group so I'm not exactly looking for an inspy one. For years I prayed for a fabu inspy group of gals to connect with, but things happened that drew me with my critty witty friends. And God has brought inspy writers into my life to mentor me or provide inspy reads for my ms. In fact, I'm thinking of two gals who, without their inside, my current WIP wouldn't be anything like it now is.

But that happened because 1) I joined a writing group, 2) one gal reached out to me, and 3) because overcame my wimpness and asked for read. Which I why I say if you are a pubbed author or a more experienced unpubbie, the be sensitive to reaching out to an unpubbie wanting guidence. When you've never been a wallflower, you don't know what it feels like.

On the flip side, I totally understand pubbed authors and more experienced writers keeping closer to their own. Critting a weaker-written story is okay for a contest or what not. Critting the entire ms and not seeing any significant improvement in the quality can be...well, wearisome. In my last crit group, I wept as I endured one gal's chapters, and finally another CP an I left the group and started a new one, which has been a godsend.

I think I'm talking in circles so I better shut up. ;-)

Missy Tippens said...

Gina, that's a great point. There have been many times that I wished so badly that I could ask a published author to take a look at my work (Still do!) but was always afraid to. Then one day Rita Herron very generously offered to read a proposal. I was ecstatic! And she was so helpful.

Also, our local chapter, Georgia Romance Writers, has a yearly workshop in March (now in April) where the pubbed authors critique a proposal of several writers, then we meet in a group to discuss the critiques. It's always held in time for the writers to get their entries ready for the Maggie. I did the event several times, and it was such a huge help to me.

I remember the first time I submitted work, though, that I was so nervous I was almost sick! LOL Ann Howard White met with me and Anna Adams. Anna went on to sell soon after that. The workshop has been an amazing benefit to unpublished writers.

Local RWA and ACFW chapters really are a fantastic resource--especially if you have an amazing chapter like GRW and my ACFW chapter (W.O.R.D.).


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Jennifer...great to see you over here! WONDERFUL post...

and here's to praying you all join the ranks of the enlisted for contract deadline SOON!

Can't wait to celebrate your joy when it happens!

Cheryl Wyatt

Ausjenny said...

You ladies really do crack me up.
its so fun reading the comardorie (ok where is the spell check!)
Mary I dont need to be in a car to almost get run over by a car in vancouver could be im an aussie and looked right instead of left and stepped into traffic but my friends scream stopped me and the tooting of a horn.
I would love to be a fly on the wall at your conferences.

Oh please dont enter me for this weeks prize.