Coming Soon: Paperbacks!

Both The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales and Please Give are available now as ebooks. Soon, you’ll be able to order paperback copies!

Paperbacks were a format I considered as I readied both books for publication, and finally had the time to set up through CreateSpace. Doug Puller, who designed the covers and formatted the ebooks, formatted the paperback copies and also designed the back covers. I’m very grateful for his work, and am lucky to be able to work with someone so talented.

Receiving my proofs in the mail made me very giddy. While an ebook is still a book, there’s something special about holding these works in my hands as bound books, with covers and pages to turn. When I saw All the Pieces Coming Together — the first short story I wrote when I got back into writing in 2016 — in print, I felt very happy.

I am reviewing the proofs now, and will let you all know when they’re available to order. For now, you can order both The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales and Please Give on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And if you’ve read either (or both), I’d like to ask you to please leave an honest review online. Thank you for reading!

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!

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.

Conferencing (Beer Edition)

This week, I am attending the Craft Brewer’s Conference on behalf of Stouts and Stilettos, the women’s beer blog that I contribute to. Given the panels, talks, and copious amounts of beer flowing, my fiction writing is slowing down a little through Thursday.

It’s slowing, but it hasn’t ceased. I’m still trying to work on Please Give each day, even if it’s something fast, like the 104 words I wrote yesterday while waiting for a taxi. Hey, it’s 104 more words towards completing it – and as of this weekend, I’m 4/5 done with a full, complete, bracket-free draft. It’s pretty exciting!

The conference is also serving as “research” for my next book. I have a couple ideas floating around, but one that’s sticking with me is a story about two women taking a  road trip to buy a rare beer, and stopping at breweries along the way. As such, my notes from the conference are interspersed with notes for the story, mostly making up names for the fictional beers that Kim and Lily (current protagonist names) will be drinking. My personal favorite so far is Male Tears Gose.

My non-novel notes will find their way into blog posts on Stouts and Stilettos over the next couple weeks. Be sure to check it out, even throughout the year. I mostly contribute beer reviews and venue reviews, and the blog has many talented women contributing their thoughts on our favorite beverage. You can also follow my live conference thoughts on Twitter, under #CBC17.

Upcoming Project: “Please Give”

I’d been writing short stories for several months when a small idea popped up in my head. It wasn’t an idea so much as it was a title.

I work for a nonprofit, and for every aspect that’s rewarding, there are others that are stressful, aggravating, and mind-boggling. One of my coworkers and I had a running joke that we’d start our own nonprofit, but for people who worked at them. We called it Recovering Nonprofit Workers, shortened to RNW (pronounced “Renew”); and it would work tirelessly to save nonprofit workers from the crazier aspects of the nonprofit office life.

The joke ran its course, but earlier last summer, I found myself reflecting on it as an idea for a story. I created a folder called RNW, as a reminder to consider it. I considered it while I wrote other pieces, but had a hard time coming up with the story.

To have a story, one must have characters; and I finally got one. Her name is Beth. Working in service is her dream — a dream she’s happy to see take root in a full-time job, albeit in an office that tests her patience. She has a lot of trouble opening up to people — myself included. As such, she and her story simply flickered in and out of my mind as I worked on other things.

However, she kept showing up — and so did another character. He wavered in and out of the flashes of the story I’d have in my mind. He was obviously important, but I wasn’t sure why. Finally, in September, as I took a walk around the National Mall and daydreamed about my stories, Beth told me: “I’m sleeping with him.”

I didn’t believe her at first, because it seemed so out there, given what I knew about him. But, she assured me it was true. I believed her. And, I went home and wrote both their first date and the first time he opened up to her about something in his past.

That was in September. It is March. I’ve created 30 characters (including major and periphery), devised each major plot point, and written over 120,000 words (it will be edited). It’s gone through many changes, and will go through many more. All of them, though, follow the same premise: what is it like to be someone who works in service, yet can’t open up and allow others to help her? That premise is currently under the title of Please Give. It’s the first novel I’ve ever come close to completing, and I’m excited to see how it — both the story, and the process of writing it — ends.

I’ll share more of the plot, thoughts on writing I’ve developed during the process, and perhaps some passages over the next several weeks. I am very excited for this project, as I like the characters and really enjoy their interactions. It’s taken up a lot of my thoughts since that fateful walk in September, and I look forward to sharing some of those thoughts with you — once, like Beth, I am ready to do so.

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.

Asides on Crows

When I write a story, I have a very hard time letting it go. When it’s in my head, it’s all mine – mine to love, mine to mold, and mine to protect. However, stories are at their best when shared, and as the stories I’ve written come to greater form, I’ve made it a point to talk about them more with others (one of the reasons I started this blog was to increase my comfort in sharing my writing).

My initial hesitance with sharing is admittedly rooted in fear, fear that the stories I love so much won’t be quite as loved by others. I don’t expect every word I write to be read with steadfast devotion, but I have the fear every writer has of something that means so much to them being outright rejected by everyone else. My rational side knows this isn’t true, but fear is not rooted in the rational.

Still, it is a fear I must face, and one that ultimately subsided in favor of wanting to share things that mean a lot to me with others. As I’ve shared my work over the past couple years, I’ve happily found most of my fears to be unfounded. Further, I find great satisfaction in discussing these stories with people, getting their ideas and seeing how the stories are interpreted by others.

What, however, does any of this have to do with crows? Well, one of my favorite things to come from sharing my writing is receiving asides from my friends that relate to the stories I’ve shared. They saw something, and they thought of the story and/or me, and sent it my way. This has happened a few times with The Crow’s Gift. The cover artist I’m working with told me that as he finished up his email discussing our work, a crow flew by his window; and we joked about that moment of kismet. Another friend of mine, the first friend I shared the story with, sent me the following tweet with no other message:

My friend and editor also sent me the following story from Reddit user pinball_schminball:

“I used to live near a crow-hangout and occasionally smoke cigarettes on the balcony. I would put my pack on the railing while I did. In the meantime I would hand the cellophane and gum wrappers and sometimes snacks to the crows that would come sit on the balcony with me.

One day I went on vacation for 3 days and when I came back there were multiple empty packs of cigarettes on the balcony. I assumed that maybe the neighbor that was watching the house was just hanging out on our nicer balcony or something but turns out no, he wasn’t. They kept appearing, too.

Turns out I caught one of the crows bringing them. They didn’t know what they were but they knew that I often had one on the railing while being out there and I was their friend so they would bring them to the porch.

I was trying to quit. The less often I went out, the more packs appeared. I feel bad for whoever moved in after i left.”

“By the way,” my editor said when she sent it, “I came across this post on Reddit and thought of your first story. Thought you might enjoy that.”

I did enjoy it, and very much. Such asides make me happy because, in a small way, they show the story living with others the way it lives with me – something all of us can share.

Upcoming Project: All the Pieces Coming Together

Stories usually come to me in lines. I’ll think of a title, or a one-sentence plot point, and it will nest in my head while various creative birds build upon it with characters, plot points, and quotes. One short story began with a single line that popped in my head over two years ago:

“It’s the perfect place to hide the bodies. The trouble is, there aren’t any bodies to hide.”

I have a macabre sense of humor, and it made me laugh to think of the conundrum of a killer finding a perfect place to hide someone, a place so perfect that no one was around to hide. I pictured him in his cabin, all alone and not a soul to steal in sight, wasting his days hunting animals and wondering how the hell he was going to live his desired life of murderous splendor when there was no one around to kill.

In May of 2016, I decided to help him try to find the answer. I started writing his story, under a really bad working title: “Killing Time.” It came from an even worse line: “The only thing to kill out here is time.” I’ve nixed both from my most recent draft, a draft that is now with an editor and awaiting its latest incarnation.

The story follows a nameless, wannabe serial killer who has found the perfect place to hide a body, and his subsequent quest to add a body to that equation. It is dark and humorous, though as the story progresses, it becomes more of one than the other. This was a story that, like many I’ve written, came to me only as I wrote it. I wrote it in order, with only the basic beginning, middle, and end in mind; and it was exciting to be surprised with the turns it took in between. I hope that readers have the same experience. As I wrote, I also noticed a recurring theme of control, and how setting everything up perfectly doesn’t always yield the intended result. Around the middle of the story, this theme came together, as did my title: All the Pieces Coming Together.

I will be sharing the story in full as part of The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, which I first spoke of last week, and plan to publish over the next few months. As with The Crow’s Gift, I look forward to sharing this story with you down the road.

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.