James Taylor

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Three


I should have titled this series “The Year to Living Minimally.” (Can you tell I’m doing revisions on my seventh novel?!)

Last week I cleaned out some drawers. This week I cleaned out some more. Don’t worry, though, I have plenty more!


Utensil drawer and gadget drawer. What I tossed out from the top left photo is not really visible, but there were packets of salt, pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, etc. all in the back. Old. Ugh.

I used to love collecting kitchen gadgets. Some things I never even used – vegetable curlers and brown sugar softeners. A cheap little microplane and a spreader with a chipped handle. I’m keeping the Pampered Chef turkey lifters, even if I only cook one turkey a year. 😉


I hate these drawers! Truly the junk drawers, filled with screws and tape and batteries and tools. They’re really my husband’s domain, but I fixed them up, and put a pile of operating manuals (for small appliances we no longer possess) into the recycle bin.

This next one was more emotional…



I donated my piano last year, and was happy to see it find a new home. It wasn’t the piano I’d grown up with, so I didn’t have an attachment to the instrument. And I hadn’t played in a very long time. But I still have an antique sheet music cabinet (my mom was so happy when she found it for me!), and it was filled with music. Look at the close-up at the bottom left of this collage – my sister and I took weekly piano lessons from Mrs. Bowser, and in April 1969 (I was 10), she rewarded us with the musical score to Oliver!


My sheet music collection includes pop favorites from my high school years, hardcover, spiral-bound books (Great Songs of the Sixties, Big Bands, Timeless Classics), as well as all the classical music I practiced so hard to get right. “Rhapsody in Blue” – I never mastered it. Now I’ll listen to it on CD or through my iPod or Pandora, and I’ll enjoy it.

My friend Lila is accepting the sheet music. She’s the Music Director at Providence College, so I’m glad it’s going somewhere good. There is one book of music I can’t part with, though.


I mean, I tattooed my name on his chest! 🎶💙🎶

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Days of Auld Lang Syne


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I wanted to write one more post, in this busy, blurry time between holidays. What words will sum up 2015 for you? In spite of the precarious state of our world (climate, terror, finances, politics), I will offer these:

  • Hope. Without hope, we live in a world full of despair. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. ” (Emily Dickinson)
  • Remembrance. Many of my friends lost loved ones this year, and whether death was expected or not, there is a loss. Fill it with fond memories. “There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” (Aeschylus)
  • Words. Written or spoken, read or heard, words are powerful. Choose them carefully. “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” (Yehuda Berg)
  • Challenge. Life is hard! Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, it’s simply right. “My greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people. Mindsets play strange tricks on us. We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see.” (Muhammad Yunus)
  • Warmth. Yes, our planet is heating up. Ice is melting, winter is warm. Do your little part. “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” (John Muir)

And, as I do each year, here is my favorite performer singing a beautiful song for year’s end. Peace.

Old Long Since


I lost a friend about twenty years ago. It was because I gave unsolicited advice. No matter if I was right or not, it didn’t matter. I gave unsolicited advice and it broke apart our friendship for years. We mended it about eight years ago, patched it up as best we could, made peace, offered forgiveness. I showed up to her father’s funeral, she attended my mother’s wake. But so much time had passed. Her children grew up. Our lives changed and matured. The seas between us have roared and swelled. For her, my “trusty friend,” I raise a cup of kindness. For you, too.

It’s the best version of a song sung at the end of the year.

“Auld Lang Syne”  Kate Taylor
A new translation of the ballad “Old Long Since,” a poem by National Poet Robert (“Robbie”) Burns written in 1792 from a Scottish folk song of the 1680s.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne
for auld lang syne
should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne

We two have run about the hills
and gathered flowers fine
we wandered many a weary foot
since auld lang syne

We two have sported in the brook
from morning sun til dine
but seas between us have roared and swelled
since auld lang syne

For auld lang syne
for auld lang syne
the seas between us have roared and swelled
since auld lang syne

And here’s a hand my trusty friend
and give a hand of thine
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet
for auld lang syne

For auld lang syne
for auld lang syne
we’ll take a cup of kindness
for auld lang syne

Credits:

Lyrical adaptation by Charles H. Witham
Kate Taylor:  vocal and guitar
musical arrangement by James Taylor

© Devil’s Bridge Music BMI, katetaylor.com

My Third Novel


Cover Design by StanzAlone Design

Cover Design by StanzAlone Design

In a departure from the “chocolate” series, my third novel, which I’m releasing this Sunday, is about a high school reunion. Here’s the blurb:

How much really changes in 25 years?  Former classmates are poised to find out as their first-ever high school reunion gets closer. Some lives have improved, some have soured, but all remained connected by their shared West Alton High past…

Once the target of ridicule, one-time “ugly duckling” Kellie has transformed in both beauty and attitude, though her fears and fragility remain as deep scars within. Will facing those who once wronged her help or do even more damage to her delicate psyche? Joe was adored by everyone in school. Well…almost everyone. Being gay in a close-minded small town, he knew he had no future in West Alton, so right after graduation, he traded one ocean for another. Now an Oscar-winning Hollywood director, Joe is ready to return. Except that it means having to face the horrific event that ultimately pushed him away… Former cheerleader Cherry planned this reunion to make peace with those she may have wronged in school. But as she faces cancer and stares down her own mortality, will she really be able to make things right again? And then there’s Scott, the West Alton “lifer,” who’s been collecting a disability pension from the town for a suspicious back injury, among other questionable life choices. Are his reasons for wanting to attend the reunion pure? Or does he have another agenda? As the months count down, long-kept secrets will be revealed as the question ever looms… Can you ever really go home again?

Now, I didn’t graduate from high school in 1988, but I remember 1988 for many things: a milestone birthday, a new job, a new apartment. Also, a bad relationship, escalating debt, and the frustration over not doing what I wanted to do (write books). Fast forward 25 years (really fast, believe me) and I’m set to release my third novel in a little over a year. Yes, I’m writing quickly (you write quickly and edit slowly) – I’m finally doing what I love, and sometimes it seems I can’t write fast enough!

The book is available through Amazon, both in digital and print versions. I would very much like to be featured in my beloved independent bookstores, too – just sayin.’ Anyway, I hope you like the book. I thought it was an important story to tell.

Bits of Broken Glass


Long Ago and Far Away - James Taylor

Long Ago and Far Away – James Taylor

Wow. I’ve written another book. This is my third, and although I don’t expect to release it for at least another month, it’s pretty exciting!

This one is not part of the ‘chocolate’ series, but there’s one more to come, probably around November (I’ve already completed the draft), titled Bittersweet Chocolate. It will finish the series and I’m happy with it.

But this book, Bits of Broken Glass, is different. Many books have been written about high school or college reunions. While I was writing this story, one of my favorite authors, Claire Cook, published Time Flies, about a high school reunion. Now, I’m no Claire Cook, but she’s definitely been an influence, as have Anna Quindlen, Elizabeth Strout, and Catherine Ryan Hyde as storytellers.

Bits of Broken Glass is contemporary women’s fiction. It’s not a lighthearted romp to the past by any means. And when I call it women’s fiction, I don’t mean that it’s just for women. But I do include a strong female character in my books, and, as a woman, I write from a woman’s point of view.

And if you’re wondering about the record at the top, this is the song that inspired the title. My main character grew up listening to the album, hearing her mother sing the song, and it’s been significant to her in her life. At the end of this blog post, I’ve included a You Tube video of James Taylor singing “Long Ago and Far Away.” Have a listen.

I didn’t attend my five-year high school reunion (I was living overseas at the time). I found out about my ten-year reunion after the fact, when I ran into a classmate in the city. Apparently no one knew where I was living. I almost attended my fifteenth. A friend from high school persuaded me to attend a planning session for the reunion, even though I really didn’t want to. Despite the fact that I lived in the same state, I hadn’t kept up with my high school friends. That evening, at the reunion planning meeting, I was greeted effusively by my classmates and promptly asked three questions: ‘Are you married?’ (No.) ‘Oh, sorry, are you divorced?’ (Nope! Never been married!) ‘Well, do you have any kids?’ (Um, no.) And that was it. I had failed their test, apparently, and there was nothing more to discuss. I wanted to say, “Wait! I’ve traveled, I’ve lived in another country, I’ve had some really bad dates that are actually pretty funny.” But they weren’t interested. At least that’s how I perceived it, and I skipped my fifteen-year high school reunion, feeling completely inadequate.

When the twentieth rolled around, I couldn’t go. All the talk about children would have been too painful for the girl who’d just learned she’d likely never be able to have children. I didn’t have the inner strength to attend.

So, when the twenty-fifth loomed, I told my husband that I wanted to go, only because I didn’t want to regret not going. And it was really a lot of fun. Many of the ghosts from twenty-five years previous had evaporated, or were simply forgotten.

Where are you on the high-school reunion circuit? Do you love them? Loathe them? Avoid them like the plague?

Bits of Broken Glass will be released in the fall. Don’t worry, I’ll be publicizing the heck out of it as the release date gets closer!

A Cup o’ Kindness


Reflections on 2012:

  • I became a published author! Finally realized a dream, one that followed me for decades through jobs that weren’t suited to my abilities (but jobs I did well anyway). It was after the lowest point in my professional life, one that still hurts to revisit, that I learned to follow my passion. And I learned a lot about the state of publishing today: I made mistakes, but along the way I also connected with some wonderfully thoughtful and supportive writers. Independent authors understand other indies. They provide words of encouragement. They cheerlead. They get it. Sadly, a few traditionally published authors let me down, big time. They may do well to recall the times when they were just starting out.
  • We made some major adjustments in the way we live. As a couple with no children and nearly zero debt, my husband and I had lived well when I was employed. We saved a lot but enjoyed what was left. I no longer receive a hefty paycheck every other week. And the economy is, well, precarious to say the least. Sharing a cup of coffee on the promontory of rocks at Beavertail Lighthouse, watching the Atlantic Ocean rush in as the sun lowers itself to the horizon, is a priceless indulgence.
  • Mended a fence or two with estranged friends. Sometimes a misunderstanding or miscommunication (especially through e-mail) can create a crack. That crack can turn into an abyss over time. Some friendships are worth saving – reach out and make the first move if it matters less who is right or wrong. That being said, let some relationships go. Moving on occasionally means releasing those who can’t move with you, and anyone who simply brings you down isn’t worth the trouble.
  • I read a lot of books. You want to be a better writer? Keep reading. Get an e-reader or stick with printed books, or choose both. Read whatever you like. Just read.
  • So much violence, so many heartbreakingly sad news stories. Nothing will change without meaningful discussion, and it’s not just about guns. It’s also about mental health and how we treat it. It’s about the desensitization of violence through movies and video games. And, of course, it’s about money.
  • I’d still love to retire to Switzerland. A couple of women I know have married and moved there, and yes, I know it’s not Utopia. Either way, I’ll keep dreaming about a return visit.
  • I’m going to stop at 400 words, because someone once told me to keep my blog at 400. Wishing you peace, warmth, love, and health for 2013. I raise my cup o’ kindness to you with this beautiful rendition by my favorite singer:

T is for James Taylor


Photo from jamestaylor.com

John Mayer has called him “the blueprint” for singer/songwriters.  “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon” was the first album I ever owned, and I’m sure I played the grooves off the vinyl.  A lot has been written about the five-time Grammy Award winner: the drug addiction, his marriage to Carly Simon, the house on the Vineyard, summers at Tanglewood.

On growing up in North Carolina (Morgan Creek), Taylor said, “I tell my kids that we were pre-TV and there was a lot of empty time there, slow weekends when you just walked into the woods and found whatever you could to kill time.  There was this long, uninterrupted time to let your imagination grow.  I believe that was an important part of whatever creative life I’ve had.”

About his drug addiction, he said, “I’m lucky to be here.  I’m lucky that I didn’t die, or that I didn’t hurt somebody else more than I did or do more damage than I did.  I should have died about five times.  Overdoses, mostly.  Or traffic accidents, or being at risk because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

You know the hits: “Fire and Rain,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Shower the People.”  So many good songs.  It’s hard to choose a favorite, but this one is at the top for me (backed by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, you’ll see Taylor’s wife Kim Smedvig, the blonde in the light blue sweater):