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!

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!

The In-Between

Last week, I shared one of my short stories for free, All the Pieces Coming Together. Next week, The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales will be released, which contains All the Pieces and three additional stories.

As I sit in the in-between, one week before and after a story release, I find myself both nervous and excited. I’ve written for many years, but I’ve never published anything before — none of my fiction, anyway. I did submit some poems to my high school’s literary journal, and I’m glad for both your sake and mine that there’s no online archive of the issue.

I also converted one of my short stories into a treatment for television for my Electronic Media Writing class at NC State. It was called The Wedding of Bianca West, and the story cross-cut between an innocuous wedding ceremony and an attack the week before on Bianca and her fiance. It’s revealed at the end that her fiance had been turned into a vampire, and their “ceremony” was him converting her into one too. Wildly original, I know; but we all start somewhere. My professor called it “creepy, but effective.”

None of the stories in The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales feature vampires, and I kept all of them in the present day (oh yeah, Bianca West was set in 19th century England, which I knew almost nothing about except for what I read in fiction. Research? Pish-posh, I had a vampire bride to create). However, it’s my hope that when you read the collection, that you find the stories both creepy and effective; and more so, that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. I look forward to hearing what you think.

In the meantime, here’s one final reminder that you can read one of the stories, All the Pieces Coming Together, both now and for free. It’s available in EPUB (zip) and PDF (please bear in mind when you open it that pieces — heh — are NSFW). Thank you for reading!

Free Story: “All the Pieces Coming Together”

The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales will be released on September 5th, 2017. It has four stories, and ahead of the collection’s release, I’m offering one of them, All the Pieces Coming Together, for free! It’s available in EPUB (as a zipped file) and PDF. (Please note that parts of this story are NSFW)

Art by Doug Puller
Cover art by Doug Puller

A man with grisly aspirations finds the perfect place to make his murderous dreams come true. The trouble is, he picked a place so perfect to hide the bodies, that there isn’t anybody to hide. He decides to venture from his isolated cabin to a bar, where he can find the final piece of his murderous puzzle: a victim. All the pieces he’s constructed will be complete with just one person. But even he cannot anticipate what the puzzle will show when that piece is found.

Download for FREE: EPUB (zip) | PDF

All the Pieces Coming Together features excellent artwork from Doug Puller. He illustrated both the cover and the page breaks you’ll see throughout the story. He also formatted the story for publication. I owe him many thanks for bringing this all together. So, thank you!

I am especially excited to share this story because, if you recall, it was the first short story I completed when I got back into writing last year. It started with a single line, and when I sat down to write it, I only imagined expanding on that line. Now it’s become a story, made more complete with Doug’s artwork and excellent editing work from Evelyn Duffy, my editor. I’ve loved watching this story grow, and now I look forward to sharing it with all of you.

I welcome your feedback and reviews in the comments. I hope you like it, and I hope you’ll be back in September, when the full collection is released. 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.

Progress Report: Hello, August

July just seemed to vanish, didn’t it? Time has flown this summer, but that time has been filled with good things overall.

I’m still working away on the projects I mentioned before. Most of the work has been what is getting closer and closer to being my next novel. It’s over 60,000 words now, and still doesn’t include half of what I think should be in there. That’s where self-editing comes in, of course — as well as the knowledge that something can always be cut.

The hardest thing for me to remember is to wait to do that cutting until after the writing’s done. I’ve made some cuts, but true to advice I see all over the writing universe, bogging myself down in cuts, edits, and perfection while still writing only makes it more difficult to finish. I find myself having to repeat this mantra: Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. 

It’s a good mantra for both writing and publishing. As I prepare to publish my short stories, I find myself getting bogged down in the details, proofing over and over and trying to account for every way it could be viewed so that it will only look perfect. However, as most articles on self-publishing will tell you, there’s only so much that can be done, especially once the file is in an individual e-reader. I suppose this is why writers prefer to let their pieces go once published. They can’t think about all those details if they want to accomplish their main goal: writing and sharing a good story.

I do look forward to sharing stories with you, especially The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. It’s still on track to be published on September 5th. I leave you with a picture of a fitting group that has taken up residence near my apartment complex over the past summer. I hear them every morning, and while they’re simply looking for shelter and food, I use their presence as a reminder to keep moving forward on The Crow’s Gift.

Progress Report: Short Stories on the Way!

It’s been a hot and busy week. The humidity makes me want to sit inside with the AC, listen to music, and type all day. Good thing a writing hobby is conducive to all those things!

The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales is getting all the closer to publication. Right now it’s getting formatted, and there are pieces being added that make the collection feel so much more real than it did in Microsoft Word, like a table of contents and a title page. Check out the illustration that will go on the title page:

The Crow's Gift and Other Tales. Art by Doug Puller
Art by Doug Puller

Like the cover for The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, the artwork was done by artist and friend Doug Puller. You’ll also see his work on the covers for Please Give and All the Pieces Coming Together in the coming weeks.

On that note, I’m excited to announce that All the Pieces Coming Together will be released as a standalone short story. I anticipate having it ready by the beginning of August. You’ll be the first to know when it’s available. I look forward to sharing it, and hope you all enjoy it!

Have a good weekend, everyone. Stay cool — and if writing, stay productive!