Out Now: “The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales”

I’m happy to announce that The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

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

The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales features four stories of connections and their consequences. It includes “The Crow’s Gift,” “I Love Your Work,” “I Never Knew Your Name,” and “All the Pieces Coming Together” (note — you can still read “All the Pieces Coming Together” for free on the blog).

The collection came together with a lot of help. It features gorgeous artwork from Doug Puller, who drew the cover, title page illustration, and page breaks. The stories were also edited by Evelyn Duffy, who did an excellent job to help complete the stories with her edits, notes, and work. I thank them both for their amazing work.

I’m very excited to share this collection with you. You can purchase the collection on Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook). I hope you enjoy it, and I also hope you’ll leave a review once you’ve finished it. Thank you all for reading!

Progress Report: Various Scribbles

My day-to-day writing is a bit more scattered than it’s been in months — not in terms of getting things written, but in all the different things I’m working on. As I wait to revisit Please Give, I’ve picked up projects that were waiting in the eaves, and started a few new ones.

I’ve worked the most on a new short story. Right now, it’s called Wither. It’s an end-of-days tale with a focus on nature, told from the perspective of a young girl named Katie who forages for food the way her parents taught her. As she looks for food, she remembers her parents bringing her to the woods to live, and everything they taught her about the earth sustaining those who sustain it (or her, as Katie’s parents would adamantly say). Her parents’ extremities reveal themselves in time with the earth’s shifting health, and Katie remains trapped in the middle.

It’s a shift from both Please Give and my usual chillers in terms of tone, but that’s made it all the more interesting to write. In its current form, the past and present are broken up by a poem; so both my fiction and poetry sides are at play. I’m a better fiction writer than poet, but I do enjoy writing verses every now and then.

I’m approaching the final third of Wither, and trying not to get distracted by the next short story I plan to start once Wither is done. Currently titled We Really Shouldn’t, it details a reunion between two lovers with conflicting ideas on whether or not they should do what they do when they meet. It is a romance, but in the way I would write a romance, which in my short stories at least, isn’t always so romantic. I’ve outlined the story to help scratch the itch I have to start writing it, as I have trouble writing two or more pieces in tandem and want to at least complete a first draft of Wither before moving on.

I’m also putting together pieces for The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. Once Please Give is with my editor, I plan to focus my time on getting the collection … well, collected; and ready for self-publishing as an ebook. I’m excited to get ever-closer to sharing these four tales, especially since I’ve talked about them so much over the past several weeks. I also look forward to hearing what you all think of them.

Finito

It’s done. The first full draft of Please Give is done.

It’s not complete. I’m going to let it sit for a few weeks, so I can approach it with fresh eyes as I read it through from beginning to end and polish it into a second draft.

But for now, there are no bracket notes. No gaping holes in the narrative. No fixes prickling my fingertips and bringing me back to my keyboard. No missing characters, no characters I need to remove, no questions stirring over and over in my head, nothing. Nothing but a finished first draft. A finished first draft of a book.

It feels good.

And because I’ve written so many words over the past several months, I leave you with the following to express my feelings on the first draft’s completion.

hot-rod

annie-dance

work-hard

shoulder.gif

kimmy-hands

oshie-stick

The Final Countdown

275 pages. 124,000+ words. Thus far.

This, my friends, is the final countdown.

I’m chugging along on Please Give, and feeling both scared and excited with each bracket note erased and each page added. It’s close to done. This may actually get done! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

Being done with a full draft won’t mean being completely done, of course. Once I have a finished draft, I plan to do a quick formatting edit, then leave it be for at least two weeks. That may seem like a short amount of time, and it’s certainly shorter than the six weeks that Stephen King recommends in On Writing (which I just finished). But, considering how much a part of my life this book has been, leaving it for two to three weeks will already require a great deal of discipline. Working on this every day for the past seven months hasn’t happened because I’ve felt like I had to. This book has been fun to work on.

But even fun needs to wait, and so do stories. During those two to three weeks, I’m going to work on things that have nothing to do with Please Give — though they’ll bring their own fun to the table. I have a few projects in mind. One is revising The Campus Coffee Shop. This was originally scheduled to appear in The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. However, my editor and I both agreed that it not only needed more revisions, but that it needed a different collection to call home. So, that story is still in progress, and will appear at a later date.

I also have a couple ideas for my next novel, and plan to spend the next two to three weeks getting one started. I plan to start small, in the form of notes, an outline, character lists, and the like. I may also start writing if I feel so compelled, perhaps in short bursts, as I did with Please Give. I’ve already done this, truth be told, with two different novels I’ve had swimming in my head over the past few months.

Finally, the timing of completing a first draft of Please Give is coinciding nicely with a writing contest I may enter. The 30 Day Collective will present a theme on April 21st, and participants in the contest must write a story that fits that theme within 30 days. Regardless of when I complete a first draft of Please Give, I plan to wait until at least May 16th to pick it back up and read from beginning to end. That’s almost 30 days from April 21st. A happy coincidence, and one that seems too good to ignore.

It’s an exciting time for writing, and I look forward to working on all of these projects in the days to come — and even more so, I look forward to sharing it all with you.

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.

Snow Day: Weather and Novel Excerpt

It’s March 14th. It’s also a snow day. Our cherry tree is surrounded by sleet, our superintendent is shoveling the walk, and my husband and I are working remotely — all after the start of Daylight Savings Time.

March has brought unexpected winter weather for the past few years, but I thought we’d escape that trend this year, given we barely had a winter. One dusting, a couple bone-cold days that made my jeans freeze to my legs, but overall, nothing remarkable — and many days where I was fine with a light jacket.

Today’s snow is the equivalent of someone who blew you off when you tried to ask them out, then called you the minute you moved on to someone else. “Hey, remember me?” “I’d rather not.” “Well, I’m calling you anyway. Surprise!”

I do enjoy snow days (though I enjoy them more in their proper season). One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to bury myself sides-deep in snow, stare at the sky, and listen to my breath. Snow has a muting effect, one that’s very useful for a brain that moves in a thousand directions at most given moments.

A snowstorm makes an appearance in Please Give, albeit in January, when one would expect it. Below is a quick excerpt of Beth enjoying the snow with a very close friend. Enjoy, and afterward, enjoy your day, whichever season it’s encapsulating.

I fell asleep looking out his balcony door, the sky overcast but not yet open. When I awoke the next morning, the view outside was completely white. Several inches of snow were piled against the window, and I could see flakes swirling rapidly in the air. All the buildings in view had neat layers of snow on top of them.

It looked lovely. And even better, it meant that the office wasn’t open. I grabbed my phone, and saw that it was still way too early to be awake for a remote day. I guess my internal alarm didn’t get the memo that it was a snow day.

Neither did his. I felt him stirring next to me, and turned to face him. He opened his eyes and smiled at me. An actual smile, not one that was hiding something. I felt better.

“Look outside,” I said, scooting back so he could see.

His eyes widened, and he sat upright. “Wow, it’s really coming down.”

We watched the snow for a while. “I love snow,” I said, placing my hands over my knees and my chin over my hands. “It’s so peaceful. It just washes everything away, makes everything quiet and new. It’s soothing.”

I felt his hand begin to stroke my back. I turned back to him, and saw him looking at me kindly. “I’m glad you’re sharing it with me.”

I gave a small smile. “Me too.”