Check Out Three New Pieces From Me, and an Excerpt from “Without Condition,” in Issue 46 of The Sirens Call! [reblog]

I’m honored and proud to be the featured author in this month’s issue of Sirens Call Publications’ The Sirens Call, “Summer Nightscares!” In Issue 46, you’ll find an essay from yours truly called “Fear, Sadness, and the Horror of Pain;” along with the first two chapters of Without Condition. I also have two other pieces in the issue: “Petal, Page, Piel,” a flash story; and “I Walked Beneath a Shining Moon,” a poem. Check out the issue for FREE below! Thanks for reading.

The Sirens Song

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of

The Sirens Call

The 46th issue of The Sirens Call eZine features one hundred and five pieces of dark fiction and horror prose from seventy two different authors and poets. It also features an interview with, and dark imagery by artist, Jessica F Holt. This month’s featured author, Sonora Taylor, talks to us about ‘Fear, Sadness and the Horror of Pain’ and also offers an excerpt from her novel, Without Condition!

Click on the cover for your #FREE download!

eZine46_cover

Visit the web site to check out the other The Sirens Call issues!
www.sirenscallpub.com

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Stray Passage: Sea of Green

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! I love this holiday, even though I skip the crazier parts of celebrating it. My husband and I prefer going to a local bar, getting a Guinness and some soda bread, and listening to two men who play live Irish folk music there each year. It’s how that bar celebrates until roughly 9 PM, when the musicians are swapped for a DJ and patrons like myself are swapped for recent college grads wearing the traditional St. Paddy’s garb of Party City.

I wanted to write an impromptu story about St. Patrick’s Day today, but found myself writing of the ocean instead. I then wanted to write a short story about the ocean, but found myself unable to finish after the final line. Perhaps I will finish it later, and continue it in another post. Perhaps it will become the opening of another book, once I finish Please Give. For now, it’s a stray passage in need of a home – and for now, that home is here. Enjoy – and if you have ideas for where it should go next, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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Sea of Green

When I first saw the ocean as a child, I was struck by the fact that it was green. Whenever I’d seen a wave crash on television or a boat sail in a book, it had been on an ocean of blue. My mother took me to the beach, and I furrowed my brow and declared, “That’s not the ocean – it’s green.”

She chuckled at my innocence. “That is the ocean, even though it looks green. It’s the way of the Atlantic.”

I wouldn’t see a blue ocean until many years later, as I watched the Pacific crash on some rocks beneath my balcony. I typed on my computer, sipping coffee as the sun rose and brightened the cliffs surrounding the water. Bordered by oceans of blue and green, I smiled at the thought of our hetero-chrome country, its watery eyes gazing at the varied terrains in between them. I trekked across them often, as my mother stayed faithful to the sea of green, and I’d cross any mountain, desert, or plain to see her when she called.

Upcoming Project: “Please Give”

I’d been writing short stories for several months when a small idea popped up in my head. It wasn’t an idea so much as it was a title.

I work for a nonprofit, and for every aspect that’s rewarding, there are others that are stressful, aggravating, and mind-boggling. One of my coworkers and I had a running joke that we’d start our own nonprofit, but for people who worked at them. We called it Recovering Nonprofit Workers, shortened to RNW (pronounced “Renew”); and it would work tirelessly to save nonprofit workers from the crazier aspects of the nonprofit office life.

The joke ran its course, but earlier last summer, I found myself reflecting on it as an idea for a story. I created a folder called RNW, as a reminder to consider it. I considered it while I wrote other pieces, but had a hard time coming up with the story.

To have a story, one must have characters; and I finally got one. Her name is Beth. Working in service is her dream — a dream she’s happy to see take root in a full-time job, albeit in an office that tests her patience. She has a lot of trouble opening up to people — myself included. As such, she and her story simply flickered in and out of my mind as I worked on other things.

However, she kept showing up — and so did another character. He wavered in and out of the flashes of the story I’d have in my mind. He was obviously important, but I wasn’t sure why. Finally, in September, as I took a walk around the National Mall and daydreamed about my stories, Beth told me: “I’m sleeping with him.”

I didn’t believe her at first, because it seemed so out there, given what I knew about him. But, she assured me it was true. I believed her. And, I went home and wrote both their first date and the first time he opened up to her about something in his past.

That was in September. It is March. I’ve created 30 characters (including major and periphery), devised each major plot point, and written over 120,000 words (it will be edited). It’s gone through many changes, and will go through many more. All of them, though, follow the same premise: what is it like to be someone who works in service, yet can’t open up and allow others to help her? That premise is currently under the title of Please Give. It’s the first novel I’ve ever come close to completing, and I’m excited to see how it — both the story, and the process of writing it — ends.

I’ll share more of the plot, thoughts on writing I’ve developed during the process, and perhaps some passages over the next several weeks. I am very excited for this project, as I like the characters and really enjoy their interactions. It’s taken up a lot of my thoughts since that fateful walk in September, and I look forward to sharing some of those thoughts with you — once, like Beth, I am ready to do so.

Thirst

I enjoy beer, and I enjoy writing. I combine both at Stouts and Stilettos, a women’s beer blog. I normally stick with beer reviews, beercation travel guides, and ruminations on beer. For Valentine’s Day, though, I had a little fun, and wrote a short love story about a woman finding just what she needed after a break-up. That story, which originally appeared here, is available below. Enjoy!

Thirst

Marissa walked alone on the cobbled streets of Old Town, sighing as her shoes scratched the damp surfaces of the bricks beneath her feet. Winter that year had been particularly cold, with wind chills of ten made all the worse by her boyfriend, Aaron, moving on from her as swiftly as the breeze. “It’s not you,” he’d said. It never was. It always was. And sadly, Marissa discovered that the warmth of a winter coat could not overcome the chill of a broken heart.

No matter. Aaron didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting out of the cold. This mattered more as the gentle drizzle Marissa walked through grew into steady rain. Marissa ducked under an awning, cursing herself for leaving her umbrella at home. She turned around, and saw a window attached to the awning. Through the window, she saw something that dashed all thoughts of Aaron, and all thoughts of loneliness, from her mind. All that filled her thoughts instead was desire.

Marissa walked inside and headed towards a table, where her object of desire lay waiting. Surely it was fate that brought her in, a thought only affirmed by the view outside being washed away by fresh turrets of rain. “What would you like?” a man asked, smiling in her direction.

“That,” she said, pointing. The object of her desire came within reach. She studied its long neck, its wide mouth, a mouth laying open as it begged to meet her lips. The scent of smoke and roasted coffee danced in her nose, and she wished for that dance to move to her tongue.

She gently lay her fingers upon it, wiping away a bead of sweat that rolled down its neck. Her object of desire was cold to the touch, matching her own hand. Both, however, began to warm upon contact. She lifted it to her lips, closing her eyes as she brought its mouth to hers. Smoke and coffee touched her lips, her tongue, and gently coursed through her as she took a long and grateful sip. The coldness, the loneliness, everything around her evaporated, fading into a warmth that spread throughout her body. She slowly pulled her mouth from her desire’s grasp, and an audible sigh escaped from her lips.

“Is it good?” the other man asked.

Marissa smiled. “Yes,” she replied. “Very.”

“Great.” He smiled back. “That’ll be $8 for the beer.”

~February 2017

Upcoming Project: The Campus Coffee Shop

I’ve been out of school for several years, but I still enjoy visiting campus coffee shops. It’s always fun to walk into a substitute study hall filled with espresso machines and scones, the sound of typing interspersed with the hiss of steaming milk and laughing voices. Whenever I’m near my old campus, I try to visit one of the coffee shops for a quick drink.

I visited one of my favorite school haunts, Saxby’s, over Halloween last year. As usual, I was surrounded by students 8-12 years my junior, and while I’m not their mother, there’s still quite a generational divide, especially where pop culture is concerned. So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear pop songs on the stereo from 2008 — 2010, my specific tenure at Georgetown. Not just one or two songs, but several. While the station was likely a ’00s pop selection on Pandora, I chuckled to myself and wondered if I’d perhaps traveled back in time.

I finished my coffee, met my husband at the Exorcist Stairs, then met our friends at The Tombs for burgers and beer. We went home, where we shared one final pumpkin beer, and I started a load of laundry.

Through all of that, I couldn’t shake the idea of someone visiting their favorite campus coffee shop, and having it become the place it was in their past. Between loads of laundry, I typed a story of a woman making a visit like my own, and hearing music like I heard — yet couldn’t be explained away by Pandora. That story is now called The Campus Coffee Shop, and is the fifth story — and final one profiled on this blog — within The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales.

The story begins as I describe above, though her return to the past isn’t nearly as pleasant. The narrator did not find school to be a happy place, and the campus coffee shop was her escape from its stressors — even after graduation, when she should’ve left them all behind. Perhaps she didn’t because she couldn’t — and neither could the others.

I look forward to sharing all five stories with you once they are edited, collected, and published.

Upcoming Project: I Love Your Work

One of the many blessings I count in my life is getting to meet several of my heroes. My godmother and I used to spend every spring break in New York City, and we’d see Broadway shows, then wait outside to meet the cast. I got to meet several of my idols this way, including Will Ferrell and my longtime celebrity crush, Topher Grace. I’ve also been able to attend several book signings in the area, signings where I’ve met Bernadette Peters, Moby, Patton Oswalt, and Toni Morrison. I’ve been grateful not just for the sheer excitement of meeting them, but because I’ve been able to tell them in person how much I love their work.

While I’ve been very lucky to meet these people, I have not met all of my heroes. This is admittedly not possible, but in some instances, it seems as if a meeting them is specifically not in the cards. They’ll come to the area, they’ll be at a signing, they’ll visit my former school, but for whatever reason — travels, event cancellation, a lack of funds — I am unable to go. One day last year, when I noticed that one of my heroes was once again coming to town while I would be away, I laughed to myself and wondered if fate was intervening to make sure we didn’t meet.

The laughter dissipated, but the idea did not. I removed myself from it and began to formulate a fictional story in its place. What if someone wanted to meet her hero, yet kept missing him because that meeting wouldn’t be what she hoped? What would happen to her if she tried her damndest to defy that fate?

Those questions formed my third short story completed last year, currently titled I Love Your Work. The story follows a young woman named Ann, an avid bookworm whose favorite author, Samuel Miller, has written many words which have touched her. However, she’s never heard him speak those words, as she’s never been able to meet him in person. She’s presented with another chance when he comes to a local bookstore for a signing. I Love Your Work details her attempt to make it to the signing, even when it seems everything is working against her arrival. Ultimately, it’s a battle between Ann and fate — though the victor may be neither.

Like All the Pieces Coming Together, this story will be part of The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. Right now, I plan to include five pieces in the collection, one of which I shared last week (though the version shared may change by the time I add it to the collection). The fifth and, as of this writing, final piece will be detailed in the coming weeks.

I Never Knew Your Name

My daily commute includes many familiar faces, all of them strangers. Being so familiar with people I will never know inspired me to write the following short story, about a woman who sees one person every day, yet only wonders about them, saying nothing more to them than “Hello.” Is she supposed to know them? Was she ever supposed to? Was it better that she didn’t?

**

I Never Knew Your Name

Cities are unique in that they’re filled with familiar strangers. There are enough people that you can sift through them anonymously, yet also enough people doing the same thing as you, or going the same way you’re going, that you recognize them in everything but name.

That is how I knew you. For while I saw you every day, I never knew your name.

I saw you on my way to work, as I see many. We surely all recognize each other, but only you made eye contact with me. Only you smiled. Only you said, “Good morning, ma’am.”

And though I normally find comfort in familiar strangers keeping their distance, I too smiled at you. I too waved. And I too said, “Good morning.”

Thus began our friendship, and that is where it stayed. We’d pass each other, smile, wave, and say “Good morning.” No more, no less.

No one else spoke to you, and you spoke to no one. I wondered what connected us apart from all the others. I’d never seen you anywhere but that sidewalk. I’d never seen anyone else speak to you. I’d never seen you speak to them.

Perhaps you didn’t want them to see you. Perhaps I saw you by accident.

You appeared very suddenly. I saw you on the way to work, then promptly forgot you. I only thought of my morning paper, with its distraught headline: a child was missing. Children had gone missing before. I turned the page and read the comics.

I continued to see you. We would say good morning. You’d walk by others in silence. I would read my paper. Two children went missing. I read the comics, but thought of the three children who were now gone. Where did they go?

I began to think of you even when we didn’t share a sidewalk. I’d seen you so often, you were almost my friend. One whose name I didn’t know. As we passed each other, I’d wonder things about you. Where were you from? Why were you walking opposite the workflow? Did you work at night?

One child missing. The other three had yet to be found.

No one else spoke to you. No one else even waved to you. Could they see you? Were you a ghost? A spirit? A floating friend to greet me hello each morning?

Three more children missing. One of the first to go missing had been found. She’d been by a riverbank and she looked … empty. Like the life had been vacuumed from her. Or, I thought as I read the paper, like her soul had been drained.

Were you responsible?

Like many familiar strangers, you began to flicker out of my routine. Days would go by where I wouldn’t see you, and I thought you’d left. But then you’d reappear. We’d smile, and wave, and say, “Good morning.” You never said anything more. Maybe you knew better.

More children were found. They all looked like the drained girl. A few more disappeared, but now people were on to the attacker. Less children went missing.

I saw you less and less.

Soon no children went missing. The news moved on to celebrities and politicians.

Soon you were gone forever. And I never knew your name.

Fin