Cover: The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales

I’ve been putting together The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. All four stories have been edited, and I’ve sent them and other pieces — acknowledgments, etc. — to be formatted and prepped for publishing on Kindle. I plan to publish the collection on September 5, 2017, just ahead of the Fall/Halloween season.

One of the pieces that’s done, though, is the cover. Check it out:

the crow's gift and other tales by sonora taylor
Art by Doug Puller

The cover was illustrated by Doug Puller, who is an excellent graphic designer and artist. I love the cover, particularly the look of the crow, and the colors of dusk behind the trees. He completed this work as I was finishing up my revisions, and seeing the cover made the collection feel real to me in a way that writing and reading the text alone did not.

I’ve also created a page on Facebook for the collection. Feel free to like, follow, and share the page if you wish. While I will continue to post updates here, the Facebook page will strictly focus on the collection, including when it’s published, and when a story from the collection will be available for download ahead of publication.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing the full collection soon!

Monarch

It’s a rainy, gloomy Friday morning. We need the rain, and truth be told, it’s nice to listen to in my pajamas. Still, I can’t help but crave a little brightness. I wrote this short piece yesterday, a quick story about a girl and a butterfly taking a walk together. Imagining the butterfly’s wings is a nice bright spot on a cloudy morning. I hope you enjoy it. Have a good weekend, everyone.

**

Monarch

The sun shone over the Pacific on a cold morning. Meghan pulled her sweater close as she exited her cabin, walking towards the main lodge for breakfast. How could a morning look so warm and feel so frigid?

It was a mystery that occupied Meghan’s mind to the point where she almost missed a flash of orange on the ground — one that was dangerously close to disappearing under her shoe.

“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry!” she exclaimed, even though she knew the butterfly couldn’t understand her. The butterfly’s wings trembled as it tottered on its legs, twitching for sunlight.

Meghan looked up at the trees. What she’d thought was a blanket of dead leaves was actually a cluster of monarchs, all sleeping on the tree they’d chosen as a pit stop for their annual migration. All were still, waiting for the afternoon sun.

One hadn’t waited long enough. Meghan crouched towards the ground, moving her hand towards the butterfly. It leapt into the air, then fell with a thud on the grass. It was still too cold to fly. Meghan tried again, but more gently. She laid her fingertip in its path.

The butterfly stayed still, then wove one leg across Meghan’s finger. Another, and another still, until all were threaded over her skin. Meghan slowly, carefully lifted her hand. The butterfly stayed put.

They walked together, meandering up the hill in the shade. Meghan waited for the butterfly to take flight. It didn’t. It soared via Meghan’s hand, its orange wings a bright contrast to the cold of the ocean and the dark of the mountain.

Soon, they approached the garden, where flowers were waking in time with the sun creeping over the dirt. While Meghan enjoyed her companion’s company, she knew a flower was a better home for a butterfly than her hand. “Here you go,” she said, stooping towards a marigold.

The butterfly paused. Meghan moved her hand closer to the petals.

One leg upon the petal. Then another.

The butterfly stood on the marigold. Slowly, its wings unfolded. The sun landed on its citrus wings, and the dots upon its night-sky border sparkled like stars.

Meghan smiled. “You’re welcome.”

5.4.17

Spotted

She sat in the center, pristine and painted. The others watched her from their shared mound, lying on green grass. The sun shone through wicker branches, casting its light upon them all. The light shone brightest upon her, her cloak of red into orange into yellow burning like a flame cut loose from a fire and skittering across the woods.

That flame caught the eye of someone who was hungry. They moved towards the woods, the grass, and snatched her up, the flame dying as their fingers cracked through her cloak. It shattered into pieces, embers which fell into a pit below the woods. She watched as the cloak disintegrated, and wished to be back on the mound with the others. The others merely watched. That was all they could do as their painted, pristine friend extinguished like a flame under water.

“Thanks for the egg, Mom,” the little girl said, grinning as she grabbed her basket from the table.

“You’re welcome,” her mother said, throwing the remainder of the egg shells in the trash. “Happy Easter.”

4.14.17

A Few More Crows

I’ve talked a lot about my novel in my past several posts, because that’s what I’ve been working on every day. My short story collection, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, has not been forgotten. I’ve revised all of the stories which will appear in the collection, and once my novel is with my editor, I’m going to focus my attention on getting the collection formatted and published. This will likely happen over the summer, and while I’m happily swimming in Please Give, I look forward to diving back into The Crow’s Gift.

My friends have not forgotten The Crow’s Gift either. Over the past few weeks, I’ve received a couple more asides on crows, which I wanted to share with you all. One aside was too cute to not share:

My friend sent me the adorable tweet above with the following: “Gonna send you all the crow things now. #sorrynotsorry.” Never be sorry, and please send me all the crow things.

Another friend of mine said she thought of my story when she had her own gift exchange with a crow:

[I] thought of your crow story the other day when I went to check the mail and there was a crow on top of my mailbox with something and when I got closer, he flew to a tree close by and I saw it was red blow pop he was working on, so got my mail and left it there for him and it was gone when I looked later. I kept imagining a very happy crow flying off with this red lollipop clutched in his claws or beak. My mailbox is weird, it’s a big square rock thing with a stone top and the actual box is bolted on the side, so he had a table top up there to enjoy his treat and I’m thinking about leaving some little treats up there to see if they take them. I’ll let you know if they do. 🙂

I hope she will. I also wonder if leaving gifts for her crow will have the same results Tabitha finds when she leaves gifts for Timothy.

The final aside isn’t quite an aside. It’s from my friend, artist and illustrator Doug Puller:

timothy-cropped

It’s a beautiful portrait of a crow. But not just a crow – it’s a portrait of Timothy. One he drew when I asked him to draw the cover for The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales.

Stay tuned for more.

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.