CAROL TAYLOR

BROWN SUGAR WANDERLUST THE EX CHRONICLES AND INSIGNIFICANT OTHERS

Carol Taylor, a former Random House book editor, has been in book publishing for over 16 years and has worked with many of today's top black writers. She is a freelance book editor, ghostwriter, and editorial consultant, a bestselling author of 7 books and an award-winning book editor. You can reach her at Carol@​BrownSugarBooks.com


PRAISE FOR
THE EX CHRONICLES

"It's a familiar premise—four 30-ish New York City friends ... navigating the perils of single life. Thankfully, Taylor makes it fresh again in her delicious debut novel."
— Publisher's Weekly


The [Ex Chronicles] is everything you think it would be, but nothing you’d expect. Yes, it’s steamy and sexy, but it’s also about love."
— UptownLife.net


"The Ex-Chronicles reaches a literary plateau that all of the three, or four sista-girlfriend premise based books should have achieved years ago; evolving from having caricatures of the successful, upward mobile, black women looking for love, to stories that feature characters who have both feet firmly rooted in reality." — AALBC.com


"The Ex Chronicles is a good story about four women living very complicated lives. All of these women have problems with men, but it goes much deeper than that. Self-worth, depression, alcoholism are just some of the issues that were addressed in this story. Strong characters and an interesting storyline makes The Ex Chronicles a wonderful debut novel for Carol Taylor."
— Urban Reviews



PRAISE FOR BROWN SUGAR

"Audaciously refreshing."
—Essence
"A stylish anthology."
—Publishers Weekly
"As smart as it is sexy."
—Honey




CONTRIBUTORS


BROWN SUGAR
Sapphire, Pamela Sneed, Natasha Tarpley, Jabari Asim, Tony Medina, RM Johnson, Leone Ross, Reginald Harris, Marci Blackman, Kwame Dawes, Lisa Teasley, Michael Gonzales, Lois Griffith, Chris Benson, Diane Patrick.


WANDERLUST



CONTRIBUTORS

Glenville Lovell
Deep Bronze
Miles Marshall Lewis
Nina Foxx
SekouWrites
Sandra Kitt
Preston L. Allen
Carol Amorosa
Jervey Tervalon
Nalo Hopkinson
Brandon Massey
Tracy Price-Thompson
Sandra Jackson-Opoku
Melvin E. Lewis



CONTRIBUTORS


BROWN SUGAR 2
Tananarive Due, Nelson George, Zane, Bernice McFadden, Timmothy McCann, Shay Youngblood, Sandra Kitt, Willie Perdomo, Jenoyne Adams, Preston Allen, Yolanda Joe, Leone Ross, Nicole Bailey-Williams, Michael Gonzales, Kathleen Morris, Rebecca Carroll, Shawne Johnson, Reginald Harris



CONTRIBUTORS


BROWN SUGAR 3
Wanda Coleman, Patricia Elam, E. Ethelbert Miller, Lolita Files, Karen E. Quinones Miller, Trisha R. Thomas, Michael Datcher, Sharrif Simmons, Denene Millner and Nick Chiles, Lisa Teasley, Preston Allen, Tracy Price-Thompson, Lori Bryant-Woolridge, Michael Gonzales, Raquel Cepeda, John Keene, Leone Ross, Miles Marshall Lewis


BROWN SUGAR 4



CONTRIBUTORS

Preston Allen
asha bandele
Kalisha Buckhanon
Angie Cruz
Edwidge Danticat
Darrell Dawsey
Trey Ellis
Reggie Harris
Gar Anthony Haywood
Kenji Jasper
Tyehimba Jess
Brandon Massey
jessica Care moore
Sandra Jackson-Opoku
Mike Phillips
Greg Tate
Lisa Teasley
Jervey Tervalon


PRAISE FOR BROWN SUGAR

"Audaciously refreshing. From Taylor's insightful and provocative introduction to the last sentence, each story not only pushes the envelope but also shatters taboos of African American love and sexuality."
—Essence

"Brown Sugar is as smart as it is sexy."
—Honey

"Particularly intelligent, varied and sexy. A stylish anthology."
—Publishers Weekly

"Brown Sugar portrays sex as it is rather than how others envision it to be."
—The Boston Globe

"A sleekly-edited collection. It sets a noble standard for collections that follow."
—Black Issues Book Review (starred review)

"This provocative anthology is as entertaining and original as it is seductive."
—Heart and Soul

"Whether subtle, romantic, or graphic, the tales in Brown Sugar represent some of contemporary African American literature's best voices."
—Library Journal

"This collection of erotic stories is a celebration of sex and sensuality. The stories demonstrate an incredible diversity of settings, characters, and sensibilities reflecting the diversity of the African diaspora experience. The collection ranges from the romantic to the somewhat raunchy as it liberates black sensuality from stereotypes and typical American standards of love and beauty."
—Booklist


EXCERPTS & INTERVIEWS

INSIGNIFICANT OTHERS
In Insignificant Others, Carol Taylor's The Ex Chronicles 2: Plan B and Pynk’s Erotic City II: Miami, pick up where their bestselling novels The Ex Chronicles, and Erotic City ended. Lust is a central character in these steamy novellas, which feature the ongoing plights of real women seeking love and sex in the city, sometimes in all the wrong places and with all the wrong men. Focusing on the sadly universal theme of infidelity, Insignificant Others will continue to draw urban fiction and erotica readers, as well as fans of both Pynk’s and Taylor’s bestselling books.

BellaOnline Interviews Carol Taylor 1/2012
Conclusion of Interview with Carol Taylor


Do you have any advice for writers who are striving to be published?

Never give up, never surrender; always be true to your style and aesthetic.

I always tell writers to write what they know, and then elaborate on that. The stories will then be convincing without them having to try too hard or to make up too many things. In my stories I combine details of my own life with fiction and that's often just the starting point I need.

Travel outside the country and outside of your regular circles. It's important to mix it up, to network and to practice the social arts. You'll meet new people and be inspired in ways you could never imagine.

As a writer—trying to be published or about to be published—you should have a clear idea of your book because the process of selling a book and delivering that book to the publisher for publication can take many, many months. It can be two years between contract and finished book. Many things can change in that time, editors leave houses and the marketplace changes. If you don't have a firm grasp on your book—its look, concept and package—it can be changed for the worse.

Be prepared to promote your book, whether you’re self-published or if you have a traditional publisher. With a publisher, don't expect the publicity department to take care of your publicity or promotions. Nurture and utilize all your contacts, pitch your book to magazines, producers and newspapers and network with other writers and always return favors so you can keep going back to the well. “Quid pro quo” loosely translated means “something for something.” Getting something of value in return for giving something of value is very important in the publishing industry and in life.

It’s also important to keep tabs on the production of your upcoming book: closely review your copyedited manuscript and galleys, the cover, the book specs, and the final book as well as any promotional materials such as press releases, postcard mock-ups and the like to make sure it looks exactly how you want it to look, or something close enough.

Pick your battles. This is an important lesson. Know when to fight and when to concede.

As a writer you should be able to write in any genre about any topic. Edit yourself and research the material and the market. Try to work organically and systematically no matter what you are writing. When you have an idea, think about the best way to conceptualize and package that idea so that there is a possibility of turning it into a series. That way you sell a few books and not just one, which makes for a longer writing career.

Always take pride in your work, deliver clean copy to your editor or agent, be grateful for suggestions to your work whether you take them or not, be open to revisions and be easy to work with or people won’t want to work with you. Publishers, agents and editors talk to each other; if you are difficult your career will be short lived, unless you are a best-selling author. Even then, it doesn’t pay to burn bridges because what goes up must come down and it’s wise to not have alienated anyone in the industry. I can’t tell you how many times referrals have come to me from the most unlikely of places because I treat everyone with deference and respect, from publishers to people just starting in the industry.

To the readers: Please keep buying books because you determine the direction of the publishing industry by what you buy. So please, take chances on new writers. They need your help most of all, or only the same 20 writers will continue to be published.

Most important of all: Writers give back when you make it. Teach, mentor, network, and give free advice. It’ll reward you in ways too numerous to detail here.

Hire a book editor, they will make your book, read better, and be more marketable and salable and they will make you a better writer during the process of editing your work.

With the advances in e-book publishing and marketing your chances of being published have increased significantly. Writers can now publish directly to an e-book and find readers and maybe even find a publisher in doing so. This is another reason why a book editor is so important in helping the writer publish his best work.

Last but not least, don’t take yourself too seriously, and don't forget to have fun. I know the book business and writing can be a grind but you don’t write because you want to, you write because you have to. Be thankful that you can.


Carol Taylor

Thank you, Carol, for such a wonderful interview. I look forward to your next book.

BellaOnline Interviews Carol Taylor 1/2012
How do you manage to balance your time between family, friends, and writing?
That’s an easy question to answer, because all these things are connected. My family, friends and my writing are all together; each thing contributes to the other. Everything I do relates back to my writing, so it’s not something that I do for only 6 or 8 hours a day. I do it all the time, conceptualizing ideas and stories or characters, or sorting out emotional issues or my personal relationships. Or I hang out with, meet, talk to, and brainstorm with creative people. Everything I do, my teaching, freelancing, editing, speaking engagements, all relate back and feed into my writing. So there is never a separation of my day job and my dream job; my dream job is my day job. Now remember a dream job is not an easy job, it’s just a job you love to do that you can support yourself doing. To be successful as a writer you have to live the creative, writing lifestyle. You should know and network with writers, attend writing functions, participate, network, socialize in the writing and creative worlds and you have to do it all the time. It’s easy to do this when it’s your world because it’s always happening around you.


If you could spend one hour with just one person, whom would you choose?
Since I can’t choose one, I’m going to choose four, but I’ve chosen them for the same reason. They are all brilliant strategists.

Michelle Obama is a brilliant strategist who is doing everything the President is doing, except she is doing it in high heels and quietly. She is his advisor, his wife, a mother and a public figure, and a brilliant professional who is doing it all so flawlessly.

Anna Wintour is a brilliant strategist who understands the idea of branding and brand identity and exclusivity within a commercial agenda. She is a woman in a position of power who manages to balance being a mother, a woman and a powerful person. She always has a clear vision that she sticks to regardless of what anyone else seems to think. That’s a gift.

Mark Zuckerberg is a brilliant strategist, and forward thinker who understands the idea of having the right people in the right places. He also understands that we’re all connected and knows that it’s not just about creating things but also figuring out how to make the thing you’ve created function better.

Niccolo Machiavelli was another brilliant strategist. He always saw the big picture, and he understood the game of power, identifying those who have it, utilizing it, creating it, and strategically making it work for him, but quietly and behind the scenes.

BellaOnline Interviews Carol Taylor 1/2012
Continuation of Interview with Carol Taylor by Lisa Binion.


Did you plan out the entire book before you wrote it? Or do you just write?
No I don’t plan out the entire book before I start writing, but I always have a finished outline of a beginning a middle and an end. For The Ex Chronicles I had the story idea, the concept (Sex and the City meets Waiting to Exhale) and an outline of the characters; but I always have a basic idea in my head for the finished book or story.

Unless I’m writing a magazine piece where I’m given the topic, I always have an idea that propels me to jot it down. So I have notebooks or copy with stories or story ideas. Then when I’m ready to write a story or a book, I take one of my ideas and create characters and an outline, and then I fill in that outline with chapters or sections. Then I fill in those chapters or sections with story, dialogue, drama and conflict, narration, scenery. Then when I’m finished writing, I go back and edit the book. This is important: when you’re writing, just write. Don’t try to edit yourself. When you’re done writing then edit your work. Then rewrite then re-edit. But never at the same time, it’s too distracting for one and because your writer self, is different than your editor self. Your writer self writes, and your editing self, edits. If you try to do both at the same time you’ll confuse yourself and lose your focus.


Do you have a set time that you write each day? Or do you wait to be inspired?
That depends on my deadlines. I usually have things that have to get done on a daily basis and things that have to get done on a weekly or monthly basis, such as book deadlines for my clients whom I am editing. So I am super-organized. But generally I am most energized in the morning. I wake up ,drink my coffee, go online to check out what’s going on, then I check my schedule and get to work on what needs to be done that day. With longer projects, such as line-editing a manuscript for a client, I have a set schedule of what needs to be done by what date so I know I’ll be finished by the deadline. This is imperative because I usually have about five or six projects going on at one time, easily stretching out over a six-month time frame. Being organized allows me to be in control of the various workloads and to successfully manage and multitask. This is where my background as a book editor is invaluable.


How long did it take you to complete this book?
Because I’m a professional writer and a book editor I usually write quickly. My Brown Sugar books were written basically a year from start to finish, then I finished and had published a book a year for 6 years. I scheduled The Ex Chronicles to be written in a year, but it took longer because my father passed away and my mother became very sick during the writing process and that threw me totally off schedule. Funny enough, it was my experiences taking care of my mother and getting over my father’s death that gave me the material, the structure, and the drive to finish the novel, because in it I deal with these issues, loss, love, death, dying, forgiveness, which are all universal. This not only allowed me to mine a deeper and far richer vein of emotions within the book, but it allowed me to work out my feelings about these issues while writing the book.


Did you have to do any research at all for this book?
Everything I write: stories, characters, locale, has some basis in fact; even my fiction. I write a lot about my own experiences, which are universal, dealing with death, love, relationships, insecurities, emotions, aspirations, my work with the people around me, and the places I’ve been to. I love to travel and have traveled extensively in America and around the world. I always jot down details from my travels and keep mementos so that when I write I have concrete details, not just memories to use. So I always have a wealth of material to draw from. But I do research, every writer should. The Ex Chronicles is set mostly in New York, where I live, but we do travel to London, Paris and Amsterdam, where I’ve traveled. Since I’ve been to all these places, I get the details right. This is what we call verisimilitude: getting the details right about cities, locales, people what they are wearing, the nuances of the language, and what’s going on at that time in that place.


How did you choose your characters' names?
Funny enough the names are secondary, what is most important to me is my characters’ ethnicity, which is what really makes them who they are. Having traveled so much I’m cosmopolitan, I have a lot of people around me who are also well traveled and are usually from other countries. I started traveling early in life, leaving Jamaica and coming to the States. Since my life features heavily in my writing, the characters in my work are a reflection of the people who are around me or who I’ve met in my travels. My characters are always multi-ethnic; they are Asian, biracial, white, Latino, black, West Indian, British, European, African, or some combination of all of those. After I’ve sorted out their ethnicities I move on to the names that match them, names that feel real and true. Sometimes, since many of my characters are based on people in my life and have some of the attributes of those people, I modify their real names for my characters' names.

BellaOnline Interviews Carol Taylor 1/2012
Continuation of Interview with Carol Taylor


What Hope and Portia were going through affected me more deeply than what the other characters were experiencing. Were there any of their problems that affected you deeply?
Funny, their problems were my problems... I was sorting them out on the page, as I do with so many of my other issues. Hope’s father had just died and she was taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer’s and Dementia. This is something I was definitely going through with my mom and trying to work out. Portia was dealing with issues that many of us experience: feeling powerless and trapped. I was going through all of this when I had all these new responsibilities. Writing about it allowed me to put it on paper and get it out of my head and even to work it out on the page. This is what I love about writing, this sense of introspection and problem solving. And although there are many correlations between my life and what goes onto the page, they are not direct correlations. It’s a look into my life, but not a direct reflection of what’s going on.


Do you know people who have experienced problems like theirs?
Absolutely. As I was dealing with being a caregiver and having your parent die, it became clear that many other people were doing so as well and no one was really talking about how hard it is and how unprepared you will always be when it happens.


Were the problems faced by any of the ladies hard for you to write about?
No, none of it was hard to write about because I never think I’m writing about myself. I’m just writing about things that I’m thinking about or curious about or have a connection to or feel need to be addressed. Then my characters take over and I can take a step back. There is a scene with Portia and her mother, Luz, and Luz’s boyfriend Rey that made me cry when I wrote it and makes me cry every time I read it. What is so emotional is that Luz becomes empowered and takes control, something she’s never done before. This affects me because when I was growing up I’d wish that my mother was more forceful and empowered, but I now understand that she was from a different generation and was handling her issues the only way she knew how.


The Ex Chronicles, in your words, is a story about 4 women living in New York and their relationships with each other and themselves. What about Portia? Why did you not consider her one of the main characters?
Portia is one of the four women, Hope, Bella, Precious and Portia are the four main characters. However, when I started writing the book, Portia wasn’t a “main” character. She “appeared” (as characters often do) to solve a problem with a “main” character, but she was so compelling that she stayed and became a very powerful character in the book.


Is Portia going to be in the next book?
Absolutely. Portia grows up in the next book, and Portia’s mom, Luz, has more of a foreground role. We’ll also see if Hope makes it down the altar, if Bella can control her addiction issues and if Precious can continue to navigate corporate America in Ex Chronicles 2.


What new doors has your writing opened up for you? Were there any opportunities that you had never considered before?
Honestly, writing as a career, had never occurred to me until I was successful at it. Editing opened up the doors for me and gave me the background and skills to be a successful, professional writer, who is creative but also commercial, which means my work is salable and finds a broad audience. Being good at writing isn’t enough these days; you have to know how to sell your work. So I’m lucky to know how to do that.


Do you ever become bored with what you are writing? If you do, how do you get past that point?
I never get bored writing for myself, again because I write about things that are relevant to me and to what’s going on in my life and in my world. I don’t work on projects that don’t interest me. For instance, I don’t do investigative pieces because I don’t enjoy the process of interviewing someone, so I stay away from that. But if this is, say a piece for a magazine and I’m not really connecting to the topic or haven’t found my approach to the article then I have to figure it out. When I do find the right approach then I get energized about the piece. Often it’s not what you’re writing but how you approach writing about it that makes all the difference. If what I’m working on starts to feel like “work” then I’m doing something wrong and need to reassess either the work or my approach to it


What do you look for when you buy a book?
As a book editor acquiring books for publication, I’d look for something I hadn’t seen before or a new approach to an old topic. I look for stellar writing, not necessarily the most literary writing, but the most affecting writing. I look for a story that speaks to me personally, but is also universal and is trying to work something out in clarifying our human relationships and our emotional connections. Or I look for amazing characters that are really well-drawn, and well-written, who “speak” to me in an authentic way and ring “true.” I look for these same things when I got to the bookstore to buy a book for myself.

BellaOnline Interviews Carol Taylor 1/2012
My Interview with Carol Taylor by Lisa Binion Fiction Editor BellaOnline


Carol Taylor, bestselling author of Brown Sugar and author of The Ex Chronicles, agreed to answer some questions for me. With her permission, I share those answers with you.

What did you do before you became an author?
I was an acquisitions book editor at Random House, Inc., working at the Crown Publishers Imprint. As an editor, I acquired, or bought books from agents and then worked with the author to write the book and then with all the various departments to publish, promote and market the book.


Could you tell us a bit about your career with the writing and publishing industry?
I’ve been in book publishing for over 16 years now. First as an editor at Random House, and then as an author, freelance editor, ghost writer and editorial consultant. Within those specialties I’ve done a lot of different jobs. Within the last ten years I’ve written seven books of my own: Brown Sugar, a bestselling 4-book fiction anthology series; Wanderlust, a travel fiction anthology; Sacred Fire, a collection of essays on the greatest African American books in history; and my first novel The Ex Chronicles, which was published last February. My publishers are John Wiley, Viking/Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. As a ghostwriter I write books for other people; as a Packager, I work with magazine editors, agents, book editors, and authors to help them conceptualize, create and produce their projects. I’ve also been a book review editor and review writer, a book events coordinator, and I’ve lectured extensively on editing and on writing, and I presently teach an introduction to editing course at City College.


When did you realize that you were meant to write?
I’ve always written. As I child I always had my nose in a book and I’ve kept a journal for as long back as I can remember. But I never really put together my love of books and it actually being a job until I had to decide what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with books, but not in a bookstore. I wanted to create them, not only write them but to physically create them. When I found out that is what book editors do, I knew it was the job for me. The moment when it became clear that I had a gift for writing professionally, not just creatively, but professionally, because these are two different things, I decided it was something I could do for myself and not just for my authors. Oftentimes there is a lot of rewriting that goes on when you’re an editor. Being an editor is in fact drawing out the best work from your author and packaging that work commercially and creatively so everyone is happy, the author creatively and the publisher financially. When I saw how much work I was doing on other people’s books and making them commercially successful, I decided that, not only was it something I could do for myself, since I have all the publishing background and skills, but it became clear that if I wanted to do it for myself and be successful, then I’d have to do it full time.


Are you successful enough to write full time?
I’ve made my living as a full time writer, editor and editorial consultant for the last 15 years. Although I do many jobs, as many consultants/freelancers do, all those jobs relate to writing, editing and publishing. Also, being an editor has helped me to have a successful writing career. I not only have the contacts in the publishing world, but I already have a reputation so people know my name and what I do. Being an editor also helps me to successfully manage my projects, get them done on schedule, and make sure they’re clean, well-written, edited and marketable. Most writers write from that place of creativity, not really understanding that when they’re finished writing the book, the work of promotion and marketing starts; the actual business of selling your book. This is what ensures that you have a long life as a writer and have the ability to then write another book and then another. To this end, I always think in series. I want to make sure I can sell another book based on the concept of the book I’ve just sold. In other words, how can I sell 2 books instead of just one or create a series like I did with Brown Sugar. I’m lucky to have both the right and left-brains of the editor and the writer, the business head and the creative head, working for me. This is what has enabled me to write professionally, creatively and successfully.

Read the rest on BellaOnline

BellaOnline Reviews The Ex Chronicles
The Ex Chronicles, written by Carol Taylor, is a character-driven novel that succeeds in emotionally involving the reader in the lives of each of its main characters – Precious, Bella, Zenobia, Hope, and later on, Portia. Each of these ladies has a life full of emotional ups and downs. As friends should do, they help each other handle what life has dealt them.

Of course, most of these ladies are involved with a man that is no good for her, a former beau that is presenting her with all kinds of problems, but that doesn't stop these women from continuing to see their bad ex-boyfriends. They are settling for the one they can get right now instead of searching for the one that will treat them with love, honor, and respect.

Precious is a struggling writer of literotica. When she catches her boyfriend, Darius, in bed with another woman, she kicks him out. That doesn't stop her from seeing him time and time again, though.

Bella is a drug addict and alcoholic who doesn't think that her rich mom and dad care much for her at all. Her musician boyfriend, Julius, takes advantage of the money that mommy and daddy provide Bella with and he keeps her supplied with drugs.

Zenobia, now co-owner of a modeling agency, once had a successful modeling career, She gave it up for Malcolm, an unfaithful and emotionally abusive Dutch-African artist. Their relationship is unpredictable; one moment they are together, the next they are apart. When he is with Zenobia, he contributes nothing to help pay the bills and argues about her working.

Hope is the creative director at Shades, a magazine for black women. Her situation is different from those of the other women. Her father has died and she is trying to care for her mother who has Alzheimer's. Between her job and her mom, she is pretty stressed out. When her regular driver is replaced with Derrick, an attractive single father from Harlem, she is upset at first. But Derrick seems to be so compassionate and so caring that she slowly falls for him.

Portia is beautiful, so beautiful that Zenobia chases her down and asks her to model for her agency. Portia's dad died when she was 10 and she is living with her mother, little sister, and her mom's live-in boyfriend. There is no bad boyfriend that Portia is stil linvolved with, her problem is Rey, her mom's live-in boyfriend. He does absolutely nothing except lay around on the couch and make a mess. Until one day Portia walks in and catches him doing something so much worse. . .

I found this book to be extremely well-written. The story didn't pull me in at first, but the more I read, the more I began to care about what was going on with each of these women. Despite the fact that my life is completely different from any of the main characters in the book, Ms. Taylor succeeded in causing this reader to become emotionally involved with their lives. My favorite characters were Portia and Hope. All of these ladies showed incredible strength and determination, but the traumas that were in the lives of Portia and Hope touched me the most. The friendship they all show to each other is amazing. The way they help each other out through all of their different crises show what true friendship is all about.

For those of you who like drama, this book is a must. Issues such as depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and self-worth are what these women face and help each other through. This is an erotic fiction book, so it does contain sexual situations, as well as a good amount of language.

Right Back Where I started From, Dwell Magazine, 2001
In America, Canada and England, many West Indians grow up in houses filled with pseudo French Provincial furniture wrapped up tightly in a protective plastic skin that clings to the body in summer like a wet tongue kiss. West Indians love to live in a faux world: Faux mahogany dining sets, nestled comfortably in retro Edwardian living rooms. Implausible ornaments crowded ten deep on a side table. Elaborate wicker displays and fake-flower arrangements. Wall-to-wall carpeting protected by plastic runners, crisscrossing every possible walkway.

In my West Indian family, I was definitely the apple that had fallen far from the tree. Actually, I'd fallen and rolled all the way down the hill. For me, plastic was for storing food, not covering furniture. Inconceivably, I was born a minimalist into a family of ceramic figurine collectors. My childhood bedroom, incongruous in my parents' overstuffed world, was a monastic, whitewashed space embellished only by the black-and-white Ansel Adams photographs I'd cut out from a wall calendar. My wooden floor, polished to a high gloss, was a natural oasis in a world of wall-to-wall. I lived "less is more" long before I knew who to attribute the quote to. I was eight years old.

Today I am an unrepentant aesthete. I can tell an Eames from a Saarinen. I can discern the curvature of a Jacobsen fro the sharp lines of a Mies van der Rohe. And these pieces would all go well in my place, for I am a loft dweller in Manhattan, at a time when only the rich can afford to live this way.

Yes, I live alone in a loft on Millionaire Island. I am decadent, important, powerful, like a media mogul, a dot-com maven, or a trust-fund baby. But I am none of these things. In fact, I am as far from them as you can get. I am a writer, who somehow lives alone in a 2,000 square foot loft in the East Village, which now seems to be the most expensive neighborhood in New York. Three floors above Avenue A and Second Street, at the crossroads of affluence and apathy, I live and work under 14-foot ceilings and windows that are six feet tall, the light flooding in from three exposures.

I have a bathroom about the size of most Manhattan studios, a bedroom the size of most apartments, a dining room, an open kitchen, a walk-in closet, a guest room, two separate offices, and not one but two living rooms, one at either end of the loft, which runs for a quarter of a block.

Don't hate me because I have square footage. I get up and thank God every day for it, believe me. And no, it wasn't easy. I lived for two years in a construction zone of plaster dust and Sheetrock, paint cans, and joint compound. Two hard years of working 9 to 5 during the day and then 7 to 11 on the loft at night. Years of paint fumes and sawdust, of broken nails and smashed fingers, of putting up walls, painting, and plastering. But it was worth it because I can never take what I have for granted.

When I moved in six years ago, on the cusp of the great East Village makeover, I was struck dumb by the soaring space. Not knowing which end to walk to first, all I could do was stand in the center of the loft and turn slowly around. When I first moved in I kept losing things. I'd put down my toothbrush and it would disappear, or I'd spend half the morning looking for my coffee cup. Now, when I go away on vacation I come back and am struck again by those first moments of space a height. So I understand when people come over and float disbelieving from room to room, repeating, "You live here alone?" My answer is always the same: "I can't believe it either."

Oddly enough when I look around I see that my place, though light-years from my parents' house, is not so much unlike it. I have my father's love of plants and antique rugs, for example, and I've inherited my mother's eye for pictures, which we both frame and arrange in hanging collages. While researching pictures for this piece, I was rocked when I saw, in a new light, the photos of the house I grew up in. The living room was almost the exact same aquamarine blue of my bedroom, and the kitchen the same burnt sienna as my kitchen and bathroom. And so it goes. The further you go away from your origins, the closer you get to finding yourself right back where you started.

And, you know, it's not such a bad place because I now know where I got my style.


RAWSISTAZ INTERVIEW
2008

RAW: Tell us all about you, the author. And then tell us about the person behind the author.

CAT: I'm an author and an editor, sometimes I'm and editor and then an author. My background is as a book editor with Random House for 6 years specializing in books of black interest. For the last 6 years I've been the editor for the BROWN SUGAR, 4 book erotic black fiction series, and most recently the WANDERLUST erotic travel anthology. I've just finished my first novel THE EX CHRONICLES (March 2010).

RAW: How long have you been writing and what has the experience been like for you?

CAT: I've been in book publishing for over 12 years, first as a book editor and then as a freelance editor, writer and anthology editor. The experience has been great for me, probably because I have an inside track. I know agents and book editors from my work as an editor so in most cases the work and the clients come to me. I also know what a book proposal and finished manuscript should look like and have contacts within the industry who knew my work and were willing to take a chance on me as an author when I was just starting out.

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST.

EROTIC WRITING Q&A
Tango Magazine 2009

1. How did you get into the field?

I’ve been in the writing business for over 12 years: As a book editor at Random House, then as an editorial consultant and a writer. My first book was BROWN SUGAR: A COLLECTION OF EROTIC BLACK FICTION published by Viking/Penguin. It became a best seller that spawned a 4-book series. I then published WANDERLUST a travel themed erotic collection. The success of my books have made me a “sexpert,” the go-to person for all things erotic. My first novel, THE EX CHRONICLES will be published March 2010.


2. Have you always thought of yourself as a sexually adventurous/open person? Or does writing erotica come from a different place—-more of a cerebral one?

Before writing erotica, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as overly sexually adventurous, probably average. I’m willing though, to try anything, at least once. I’m a private person but in my writing I’m quite open. Writing in general is cerebral; that’s writers are so internal. Writing erotica, or any fiction, comes from somewhere outside of yourself, or actually somewhere deeper inside. Ultimately, writing gives you the freedom to be anyone or do any thing.

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST.

MARRYING WITHIN YOUR RACE: BIGGER THAN BLACK AND WHITE?
Tango Magazine 2009

Is there a crisis in black relationships? Despite millions of examples of loving couples, do black women and men still have negative perceptions of each other? If so, where did they come from and are they true?

Donna L. Franklin’s 2001 book, What’s Love Got to Do with It? shows that 7 out of 10 black mothers give negative messages to their daughters about black men. Did my mom give me negative messages about black men? No, she didn’t have to. I got them from watching my parents’ relationship.

My father was a “player” proving his manhood through multiple families and women as so many West Indian men of a his generation did. My father’s philandering definitely had an impact on how I viewed men in general and black men in particular: They were duplicitous, cheaters, liars who used black women, really all women for their own needs and egos. I would see this again when my brother cheated repeatedly on his wife and then left her for——you guessed it——a white woman. This is probably why I’m still unmarried, that and because I can’t seem to find any black men to date in my social circle.

As a successful black woman in corporate America I had a very hard time finding black men who understood and weren’t intimidated by my busy lifestyle, weren’t already dating or married to white women and who weren’t gay. When I left the corporate world, and moved to Black-man-friendly Brooklyn, I had a much easier time finding black men, unfortunately far too many of then were players. I’ll admit though, I’d often choose a “bad boy” over a good prospective partner and had a bad experience, which then created a bad perception. That said, it seemed the odds were often stacked against me: 9 out of 10 times, the good-looking, smart, articulate, cultured black men I met were in multiple relationships, or either had a girlfriend or were married and “forgot” to tell me. In fact, had it not been for the tattoo of his wife’s name on his arm, I might not have known that the last man I was out on a date with was married.

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE AND READ THE REST.

MY LIFE AS AN EROTICA WRITER
Tango Magazine 2009

Writing about sex has always been an honorable tradition. Just like good sex, good sex writing is in the details, the images, the scenario, the melding of reality and fantasy. We read erotica for inspiration, sometimes to lose ourselves, though we often find parts of ourselves within the story. Good sex writing paints a picture; it shows as well as tells, and it connects your mind to your body.

*****

I wake the next morning, sore and satisfied, my muscles aching from all night of lovemaking. I lay naked and sprawled out, the sheets a mess. A smile bright as the morning is on my face as I feel the weight of his body pressing down on mine.
I look longingly into his eyes before dropping my gaze to his firmly muscled chest, narrow waist and the sexy triangle of hair leading down to his…”

*****

Sounds good right, the life of an erotica writer. Can’t you see me in my sexy lingerie, sitting at my laptop, popping bonbons from a heart shaped dish into my mouth, porno playing as I sample sex toys for research. Unfortunately the reality is very, very different.

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST.


A DEBT TO PAY
Bronx Biannual Literary Journal #2 2007

A devilishly handsome man Diamond Don also had the gift of words. Back in the day, the girl’s weren’t above murder to get into his stable. And he’d never been above murder for any reason. He chuckled evilly: This one ‘ho he’d had to beat down almost dead to keep her black ass acquiescent. Hell, back in the day, he’d been the biggest Mack Daddy Pimp uptown. Bitches was standing in line to suck his dick. And he had plenty dick to go ‘round. Diamond chuckled again. Ah those was the days. But now, times they were a changin’. Fewer girls on the stroll. The ones walkin’ wanna work for themselves. Could you imagine, whores pimpin’ themselves? This feminist shit was gettin’ way outta hand.

But that was the least of his problems right now. He had Black on his ass, ‘bout close to a week now. It had to be Black. Diamond could smell him on him. And everybody avoiding him like the fucking Plague. And when Black took your contract it was the muthafucking Black Plague cause somebody was gonna end up dead fo’ sho’. Yeah, the writing was on the wall. His number had come up. But Black had better be man enough to take him. Diamond didn’t become one of the top pimps in Harlem to go out like some bitch. And for some dead ‘ho. Shit, plenty dead ‘ho’s in his past. But this one had to be kin to Black. He laughed, even murdering muthafuckas got family too. Just his dumb luck.

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST.

OFF THE HOOK
1. HE'S GOT WEDDING JITTERS

Dear Carol,

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. Last August he proposed to me. We set the date for 6 months later. The day after Valentine's Day he called the wedding off. He told me that he wasn't ready for marriage and he wasn't sure what his feelings were for me. A week later he came to me and said that although he wasn't ready for marriage he wanted to try and work things out. I have no idea what to do. He is 27 years old and I feel like if he isn't ready now he may never be. Not only that but he keeps flip-flopping from mood to mood. One minute he is all over me and the next minute he seems 20 miles away. Any advice?
-- Lisa



READ THE ANSWER IN MY COLUMN. GO TO THE HEADER AND CLICK ON "COLUMN" THEN ENJOY. GOT A LOVE/LUST DILEMMA OF YOUR OWN SEND IT ON OVER.

THE EX CHRONICLES
Precious, a struggling writer, discovers her fiancé Darius in bed with another woman, though she ends the engagement it doesn’t stop her from wanting him. Bella, the wise-cracking, over-indulged child of an absent diplomat father and pill-popping socialite mother, knows her musician boyfriend Julius is using her, but before she can give him up she has to give up her first love, alcohol. Half-British, half-Jamaican, Zenobia, sacrifices a successful modeling career for Malcolm, her overly critical boyfriend, but when he strays she fears she’s made a terrible mistake. Bourgie Hope, the creative director of a high fashion magazine, is working double time to hide the effects of caring for her dementia-ridden mother and her own debilitating depression, while trying to resist a strong attraction to her new driver Derrick, a single dad from the projects.

Funny and sexy, heartbreaking and inspiring, the Ex Chronicles is a novel about faith in one’s self, trust in one’s friends, and the sacrifices we make in the name of love.

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST.

WANDERLUST EROTIC TRAVEL TALES
Part erotica, part travelogue, these edgy, atmospheric, and sexually charged stories explore the desires that are awakened when we are away from the confines of home. Penned by best-selling and up and coming authors, these contemporary, sexy and sophisticated tales take you on trysts around the globe--from the streets of Paris, to the sun-kissed beaches of Jamaica and Hawaii, from the hidden caverns along the Mediterranean to the forbidden banks of the Nile.

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST

Brown Sugar A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction
Plume, 2001

Silk sheets, jazz playing softly on the stereo, black silk against brown bodies in warm sticky embraces. Brown Sugar brings together eighteen original stories by America's premier black authors. Their stories cover the full spectrum of black experience and identity as they reveal sexuality and sensuality in all their myriad forms. Whether you are male or female, gay or straight, this joyous celebration of erotica will transport you to a realm beyond the limits of your sensual imagination. It is a must have book for every lover, as well as every lover of good fiction.

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST

Brown Sugar 2 Great One Night Stands
Simon & Schuster December 2002

If the first Brown Sugar left you wanting more, then feast your senses on Brown Sugar 2 as 18 bestselling black writers celebrate a great one night stand. Their stories set the stage for seduction with a distinctly new flavor, and they are as insightful as they are sexy.

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST

Brown Sugar 3 When Opposites Attract
Simon & Schuster December 2003

Focussing on the universal theme of opposites attracting Brown Sugar 3 continues in the tradition of fresh and sexy black fiction written by best selling authors you know and love.

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST

Brown Sugar 4: Secret Desires
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

The Blacker the Berry, the Sweeter the Juice by Carol Taylor

"I'd just finished breakfast and was sitting with my morning paper in Dimitri's Cafe on Prinsenstraat, when I saw the most beautiful man at the window. He was tall and thin, as many Dutch are, with a long face and narrow sloping nose. Stop there and he'd be just one of the many beautiful people I'd seen all over Amsterdam into Rotterdam and in parts of Belgium.

It was the potent mix of African and Dutch blood running through his veins that composed his features into an odd and wonderfully poetic juxtaposition. He had skin the color of rich cream with a sprinkling of nutmeg freckles across his nose. His eyes were the most astounding shade of blue I'd ever seen. His long nose was offset by full, thick lips and above his prominent forehead sat the biggest, most gloriously kinky, dirty-blond Afro I'd ever seen.

He was beautiful, like rain after a drought, the sun after a storm. He was a gift dropped at my feet and he was looking at me as though I was too.

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST

SHORT STORIES


Harlem Homecoming
As I sat in first class, I couldn’t believe I was heading back to the States. I’d been living in Paris for six years, working as a stylist at a fashion magazine when I got my mother’s letter. We’d been in contact since I’d left, but now she wanted me to come home. She didn’t say why, just that she had to see me.
My mother so rarely asked for anything that I knew I’d be on the next flight back. Honestly, I didn’t mind taking a break. My job kept me busy; always packed and ready to leave for a shoot at a moment’s notice. No room for relationships either, but I didn’t mind. If you didn’t care, you didn’t get hurt. I’d been hurt enough. The last time I almost didn’t make it. And here I was heading back to New York, back to Harlem.
***

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE AND READ THE REST.

Roots and Culture
"In America, Canada and England, many West Indians grow up in houses filled with psuedo French Provincial furniture wrapped up tightly in a protective plastic skin that clings to the body in summer like a wet tongue kiss. In my West Indian family, I was definitely the apple that had fallen far from the tree. Actually, I'd fallen and rolled all the way down the hill. For me, plastic was for storing food not covering furniture. Inconceivably I was born a minimalist into a family of ceramic figurine collectors."

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE AND READ THE REST.

Luscious Jones
"I wonder if you taste as good as you look, Luv," He whispered in his rolling cockney accent. Reggie was a Brixton boy, unassuming but full of surprises, I'd met him at a Moshood fashion show: You know the scene: Niggerati and Afrocentric back-to-the-Motherland, Kente cloth-wearing types. And of course plenty of yummy muscled Homeboys, fashionistas, Mack Daddy's in full pimp gear, and music video 'hos with weaves for days on the stroll with their producer pimps."

CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE AND READ THE REST.


Double Dutch
"I’d been in Amsterdam for 2 months and had decided I’d never leave. I’d fallen in love with the delicious ganga, and the even rows of sharply dressed houses pressed up tightly against each other. I loved the glittering canals and the cheery houseboats bobbing on the water, at night, lit from within like fireflies in a jar. I’d also fallen in love with the strange beauty of the Dutch people. Actually, I’d fallen in love with one Dutch in particular. His potent mix of African and Dutch blood had composed his features into an odd and wonderfully poetic juxtaposition. He had café con leché skin and nutmeg freckles. His eyes were light brown and luminescent like molten honey. His long nose was offset by thick lips and above his prominent forehead sat the biggest most gloriously kinky dirty blonde Afro I’d ever seen."

CLICK THE LINK ABOVE TO READ THE REST

SELECTED WORKS

New Four-Book Novella Series
Book 1 coming spring 2013, with a new book published every six months.
BellaOnline Interview Part 5
Carol Taylor shares her 18 years writing and editing experience with BellaOnline.
BellaOnline Interview Part 4
Carol Taylor shares her 18 years of writing and editing experience with BellaOnline.
BellaOnline Interview Part 3
Carol Taylor shares her 18 years writing and editing experience with BellaOnline.
BellaOnline Interview Part 2
Carol Taylor shares her 18 years writing and editing experience with BellaOnline
BellaOnline Interview Part 1
Carol Taylor shares her 18 years writing and publishing experience with BellaOnline.
Book Review
Read the review at BellaOnline http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art174517.asp
Magazine Article
Society Column, Dwell Magazine 2001
Is there a crisis in black relationships? Despite millions of examples of loving couples, do black women and men still have negative perceptions of each other? If so, where did they come from and are they true?
TANGO MAGAZINE 2009
Interview
An Editor on Editing and Writing
The Life of an Erotica Writer
Excerpt
Bronx Biannual Literary Journal #2
Advice Column
Advice on Love and Lust
A novel
In a New York City rife with emotional landmines, four friends search for Mr. Right but often end up settling for Mr. Right Now.
Books
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller and Winner of the 2001 Gold Pen Award for Best Short Story Collection
The second book in the best-selling Brown Sugar series
The third book in the best-selling Brown Sugar series.
The fourth book in the best-selling erotic collection
Read an excerpt from the book
Short Stories
Uptown Magazine September 2005
Dwell Magazine April 2001
Oneworld Magazine Feb/Mar.2002
Oneworld Magazine Sept./October 2003