Out Now: “Please Give”

I’m happy to announce that my first novel, Please Give, is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

please give by sonora taylor
Cover Art by Doug Puller

“Please Give” takes place in Washington, D.C. It tells the story of 28-year-old Beth Harmon, who has made her professional home at the anti-hunger nonprofit Safety Net following an extended job hunt. When Beth is offered a larger role in Safety Net’s biggest fundraiser of the year, she dives headfirst into the new challenge. But such a dive means working against her own anxieties. As Beth navigates challenges both in and out of the office, she must confront the prospect of losing predictable constants in her life — and must decide which ones she wants to save, and which are worth walking away from. You can read more about the book here.

The book features covert art by Doug Puller, and was edited by Evelyn Duffy. Both of them were vital in bringing the final version together, and I thank them for their work on this.

“Please Give” has come a long way from my original idea that came to me last fall. It’s been a long, eye-opening, and enjoyable process. I’m excited to share the book with all of you, and hope you like it! I also hope you’ll provide an honest review after you’ve read it.

“Please Give” is available to purchase on Kindle and Nook. Thank you for reading!

Progress Report: Readying “Please Give”

It’s almost here — publication day! Please Give is in its final stages. It’s with a beta reader, and will soon be with Doug Puller for formatting (you’ll recall that he designed the cover). I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited. I anticipate publishing on Dec. 19. I can’t wait to share it with all of you, especially after talking about it on here for almost a year.

As I put the finishing touches on Please Give, I’m taking some time to write my next pieces. I’m slowly working on my next book — yet another piece I’ve started, but this is one where I have a clear arc in mind. I’m still keeping my unfinished pieces on the table, and adding to them as inspiration comes to me; but I’ve also been trying to focus on this new(er) one so I can get going on it. Even if I write a bare-bones framework that’s more novella length than a novel, I want to get something written down, and something substantial. Please Give took a while to get going too, but it’s easy for me to forget that when, once it took hold, it wouldn’t let me go — and to an extent, it hasn’t yet. But I feel its fingers loosening with each step closer that it gets to publication.

I am also getting ready to submit some short stories to Evelyn, my editor. I’m hoping to put out another collection by mid to late 2018, depending on how edits go. I have five finished pieces of varying length. As of now, their titles are Wither, We Really Shouldn’t, Do Something, Nesting, and Smoke Circles. I may add a sixth story if I can finish another between now and next spring. I’ve created an entry for the collection on Goodreads if you’d like to shelve/follow it.

Thanks for following the blog, and stay tuned for the publication of Please Give!

Cover: Please Give

Over the past month and some change, I’ve been hard at work revising Please Give. I finished my revisions last week, and am almost done with my final reread. It’s really transformed since September 2016, when I wrote the first draft of what would become Chapter 5. I plan to publish the book on Dec. 12, 2017 — so mark your calendars!

While I’m still finishing up the book, the cover is ready; and I’m excited to share it with you below. It once again features amazing artwork from Doug Puller, and I hope you’ll take some time to look at the details he’s included throughout a scene in Beth’s office. Check it out:

please give by sonora taylor
Cover Art by Doug Puller

Once again, the expected release date of Please Give is Dec. 12, 2017. In the meantime, you can check out the book’s new page on the site.

If you want to catch up on Please Give and its progress, you can check out my blog posts on the book.

And, if you want to check out Please Give on Goodreads, you can find it here.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing Please Give with you once it’s finished!

Greetings from Revision Land

I’m still in the depths of revising Please Give. For the past couple weeks, that’s all I’ve worked on. The other projects I’ve begun are all waiting for me — a good thing, because otherwise I won’t finish the current one.

Waiting to work on other things has been an exercise in patience, but the process of revising makes that exercise easier. I’ve enjoyed seeing how the book has changed from when I sent it to my editor to what it looks like now (though I am trying to not read my revisions until I’m done with all of them and can read anew from beginning to end — another exercise in patience). It makes the story feel fresh, new, and most importantly, better.

I hesitate to say it feels complete, because it doesn’t. It doesn’t due to the simple fact that I still have a few chapters left. But more so, it doesn’t feel that way because I don’t know if it will ever feel 100% complete.

Many authors say that a book is done when one accepts that what’s there is enough. I understand that feeling, more so with the book than my short stories. With the short stories, their brevity helped me know when each was done. I have flashes of that with the book. For instance, in the first draft, I intended to write another section after what became the closing line. However, I felt an urge to just stop there once I wrote it. And sure enough, my editor said it was a great closing line.

But there are moments in between the beginning and end where I still wonder if there’s another way to word a scene, or a way to expand a scene further, or even change it a little to set some other pieces in place. Revising the book has been an exercise in knowing when those changes are warranted, and when those changes are just me keeping myself enmeshed in a story I absolutely love writing. It’s crucial to know the difference, because as much fun as it is to write a story, it will feel even better when it’s done.

One of my favorite movies is Wonder Boys. There’s a scene towards the end where Grady’s book-in-progress, a typed 1000+ page tome that he’s spent years working on, goes flying into the wind and the water, lost forever because it was his only copy (a testament to the importance of backing up your files). He’s asked what the story was about, and he says he doesn’t know. He’s asked why he spent so many years writing the story when he didn’t even know the plot. He says, “I couldn’t stop.”

While I have not typed 1000+ pages, nor spent years doing it, nor did so without a plot in mind, I know how that feels — and how that feeling can ultimately be a trap. Don’t let your stories fly into the figurative wind and water under the guise of fine-tuning and making it perfect. Write your story, revise your story, and then complete it — by stopping. There are people out there waiting to read your book who’ll be glad that you did.

Progress Report: Decisions and Revisions

Fall is upon us. Last fall, I got the first idea for what became my first novel. It’s fitting, then, that one year later I’m in the midst of revising it.

I’ve never revised a novel after receiving copy-edits. I of course revised chapters as I wrote the book, and made revisions as I went back and read it from beginning to end. But my revision experience based on edits from my editor has only been with short stories. I can usually go through these in a few hours, and read from beginning to end with ease (and multiple times at that).

Understandably, it’s a different process altogether to try and do this with a novel — and a somewhat long one at that.

It’s an experience, though, that I’m glad to take on. I’m finding a balance between making edits as I think of them, no matter the order they fall in the narrative; and working from beginning to end. I’m in the latter stage now, as I’ve found it’s easier and better for the edits to read from one chapter to the next at this point (though I’ve made notes to myself for later changes to make when I reach where they’ll go in the story).

It’s a longer process than I had with the short stories, but I’m grateful for the length. I’m usually anxious to write it all and write it now. As such, I can sometimes write rather haphazardly. It comes together in final drafts — it calms down, if you will — but for a novel, I need to exercise that patience sooner. I need to write the revisions as a note, and let them settle before putting them into the manuscript. It makes for a calmer process — and one, I hope, that leads to a more rewarding finish.

I still anticipate publishing Please Give by November 28. I’m still writing notes and passages for other projects, but the novel revisions are my focus. There’s time for everything. “In a minute there is time/For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.” (Side note: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is my favorite poem)

I look forward to sharing the book in its finished form with all of you. Thank you for reading!

And as a quick reminder, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Progress Report: Circling Back

First, I want to do two things up top …

  1. Say thanks to all who’ve purchased, read, and left nice comments for The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. Seeing the initial feedback helped make my first publishing endeavor a little less scary. So, thank you!
  2. Remind you all that The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! I hope you enjoy it.

The past couple months have mostly been focused on preparing The Crow’s Gift for release, as well as various writing projects. Most of them have either been new stories or continuing ones I started and didn’t finish. Some of them still remain unfinished, but I believe that stories worth finishing find a way to get done, in due time. Sometimes they just need to percolate.

I did start and finish one long story. I started it in Canada (and on my phone, since my laptop was on its own Canadian adventure), and started it on a random story thought: what if someone was friends with a married couple — friends with both the husband and wife independently — and when he met the wife for lunch one day, he did so with the knowledge that the husband was cheating on her? It morphed into a rather long short story that’s currently called Do Something. It’s a simple premise on the surface, but the choices Peter makes about what to say and not say to his friends take some interesting turns, ones I didn’t fully expect as I wrote. I started with a set idea of what would happen, but the story went pretty far from that idea by the time it reached the end. I like when that happens, though; and it’s one of the reasons I prefer to avoid outlining when I can. The characters tell me what happens as I write their story, and I become surprised by the results — it’s more fun that way. (I admit that works better for short stories than novels)

With the exception of Do Something, though, my writing has been a bit scattered — a revision here, an added page or two to an unfinished project there. I am used to working on one thing at a time, but I suppose as I write more, it’s to be expected that I’d be juggling a few projects at a time. I am still used to what it was like when writing became ingrained in my day-to-day — which was when I honed in on Please Give and almost nothing else for several months.

Please Give will be back for revisions soon. I’d shelved it while working on other pieces, though not entirely — I’d still think about some lines, or the characters, or a possible revision (though I’m not making any until I get it back from my editor and see what she says). It was around this time last year, though, that the story first came alive in my mind. What started as a title and a basic premise based on a shared joke with my colleague (now, sadly, my former colleague; though I’m happy he’s found a new job) morphed into a story I had no idea I’d get so involved with — and one I loved engaging with. I find it fitting, then, that it’s coming back for Phase 2 of its novel life around the time it became a story to begin with.

I look forward to sharing Please Give in its finished form later this fall, and the next batch of completed short stories in 2018. Thank you for reading!

Progress Report: Northward Bound

August has been a little quieter on the blog. As I’ve worked at my day job, worked on my next writing projects, and worked on preparing The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales for publication, I’ve had a little less time for blog updates. I anticipate a return to my normal twice-weekly schedule in the coming weeks.

I wanted to drop in with a quick hello, and a quicker progress report. My novella is still moving along. It’s moving very slowly, and I think it’s because it’s more serious than most of what I write. I always feel like I’m taking a deep dive when I write it, and hitting Save is like resurfacing and taking a big gulp of air. I can only write like that for so long a stretch.

On the lighter side, I have started working on Suds, which I first mentioned when I attended the Craft Brewers Conference back in March. It took me awhile to get going on it, as I was having trouble connecting to the characters and getting into their story the way I’d connected to the characters in Please Give. I’m still not quite there, but I find myself wanting to write, and subsequently learn, more about Kim and Laurel, and how their brewery road trip will go.

It’s fitting, as I myself am about to go on a trip. I’ll be in Halifax and Price Edward Island for the next few days. I’ve never been, and look forward to spending time on the water, drinking some Canadian craft beer, and spending time with my friends. If you have any recommendations for things to do there, please leave them in the comments!

Have a good week, everyone.