Halloween Sale: Get “The Crow’s Gift” for $1

Halloween is fast approaching, and I’m offering The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales for $1.00 on Kindle. The collection will be on sale through Oct. 31!

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

The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales features four chilling short stories that are perfect for Halloween weekend (because let’s be real, Halloween is a multi-day celebration). You can read more about the collection here.

The collection is only $1.00 through Oct. 31, so don’t miss out!

Happy Halloween, everyone.

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.


Upcoming Project: The Crow’s Gift

While this blog is still finding its footing, I do have a tentative schedule in mind. I plan to update it twice a week, both to space out my posts and also ensure myself time to work on the projects I want to share with you. At the beginning of the week, I will post an update on a project currently in the works. This could be a project being edited, being written, or being considered; but none are finished. At the end of the week, I will share finished pieces with you. Some could be up for revision or a future incarnation as a longer story, but all will be beyond the production stage.

Last Thursday, I shared an essay called The Park is Gone. Today, I’m excited to share some information on one of my upcoming stories.

A few years ago, I was charmed by a story about a little girl who made some unlikely friends: crows. She’d dropped a chicken nugget on the ground, and while the feeding was an accident, the crows remembered her generosity. They started to bring her gifts — mostly found objects, like tools and beads, but she kept them all. It was a testament to a crow’s impeccable memory, something proved across other studies, including the fact that crows remember who is kind to them and who mistreats them.

I started imagining a story that took all of those concepts into consideration. What if the little girl deliberately reached out to the crows? What if they became her friends? What if they remembered the people who were unkind to her? That story unfolded itself into The Crow’s Gift.

After a long hiatus, I picked up my hobby of writing fiction last spring. The Crow’s Gift was the second story I finished. It follows a young girl named Tabitha, a lonely girl who has trouble making, and keeping, friends. This changes when she befriends a murder of crows, who she waves at every day on her way to school. One crow in particular acknowledges her presence by cawing at her and flapping his wings. She names him Timothy. One day after school, she feeds him a cracker. The next day, he brings her three stones.

That is where the resemblance to the true life story ends. The Crow’s Gift dives deeper into Tabitha’s loneliness, which is amplified by a lack of friends at school, a mother who tends to disappear from her emotionally, and a bully who only offers her insults and fear. It examines her friendship with Timothy as both solace and protection. It’s a tale of friendship, though I’d hesitate to call it heartwarming.

The Crow’s Gift will be the title tale in a small collection of short stories that I’m currently putting together. I look forward to sharing more of it with you down the road.